I’m 7 months sober today and I was thinking about any wisdom I could pass on to those trying to stop drinking or those who are alcohol-free already but in early days. To be honest, what comes to mind, is really just about doing the work.
No one wants to go through a tunnel of pain … So we hang around near the entrance of the tunnel surrounded by empty bottles. Often, for years.
Booze is a bit of a catch-all. Some of us drink too much out of boredom or from habit. It’s an addictive substance in and of itself. Booze can appear to make life more interesting and creative and fun. Like some sort of energising tonic.
Some of us drink because life can be disappointing and we drink to numb our feelings. Sometimes it’s old trauma from our childhoods that draws us to that numbing quality. Sometimes we model our parents drinking habits. Booze can appear to make life and our feelings or disappointments feel more manageable. Like a calming tonic. That almost feels like well-being.
I used booze for both. To regulate my emotions, to energise and numb depending on what I needed at the time.
boozing too much, whether it’s out of habit or something deeper, is avoiding doing the work.
So why doesn’t drinking really work when it feels so good? Because it only works on the surface. Like all addictions. It can be so nice in the moment but seriously it doesn’t address what’s really going on. When I think back to drinking a few sharpeners before going out with friends, it would all make me funnier and chattier, but it was all surface-level. Like a character I was creating. Not truly me.
And now I’ve been sober for 7 months, it kinda blows my mind, that the surface level of ‘help’ booze provided seemed good enough for so long. It wasn’t good enough!! It isn’t good enough!! And that it included putting up with the hangover bullshit it comes with. The awful dry mouth, headache, anxiety, yuk. We deserve better!!
There is a lot of research about how we as humans do a lot to avoid pain. Avoid awareness and the real work. And boozing too much, whether it’s out of habit or something deeper, is avoiding doing the work.
No one wants to go through a tunnel of pain. We don’t know what’s in there, bats and whatnot. So we hang around near the entrance of the tunnel surrounded by empty bottles. Often, for years.
Whereas if we be brave little soldiers and get into the tunnel and start working through the dark obstacle course in there, the light at the other end gets brighter and closer than where we started. We learn how to deal with the stuff in there as we go.
And there is no promise of a field of bunnies at the other end of the tunnel, and there will likely be more tunnels in the future to go through. But we will know what to expect and have the tools and be ready to face any crap in there.
And the idea is once we are out the other side, we can go about our lives in a more authentic way. Not just applying a booze bandaid that doesn’t actually help you. It doesn’t help you.
Pain is ok.
Sitting with the discomfort of quitting booze is ok.
Face your fears and look at them head-on. We often avoid change based on fear. Going booze-free can feel scary but it is also an adventure. We should all feel hugely proud of ourselves for wanting to do this. By putting down the booze, we are taking the first step into the tunnel. People say growth is painful. And it is. But the rinse and repeat of boozing and avoidance is more painful long term.
That expression, we get one shot at life, to me is the kind of bullshit that keeps us in a self-limited place. Also, life is short. Hopefully that is bullshit too.
It’s never too late to choose to live differently.
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