When you decide to stop drinking you’re opening your mind up to the choice that is actually more about freedom than restriction. The freedom to never need to drink again.
Everything we do in life is a choice. But our choices reflect MUCH more than just saying yes or no to something. Our childhoods, our personalities, our lifestyles, our ability to cope with stress, our openness to address our feelings/emotions… all these things affect our choices. Sometimes in life and especially with addiction, it’s not a matter of a conscious choice…. it’s a deeply ingrained survival mechanism that tells us we NEED something or else we won’t survive another minute.
Whether it’s feeling desperately in need of love and connection (such as cheating) or having a drink (alcohol addiction) or smoking etc… addiction feels like your brain shows you absolutely no other option and so really where is the choice in that?!
Recovering from any addiction or making any major change in your life means slips. It may take many people time to see the choices and be able to choose a different way, whereas others may see the options right away and be able to choose a different path as soon as their mind opens up to it—- everyone’s experience is different.
Guilt, shame, embarrassment, self-hatred and logical reasoning have NEVER and will never help anyone make better choices… in fact, they fuel the NEED for the addiction. Education, empathy, love, compassion, and acceptance of others’ experiences is what supports someone to move from surviving to really seeing their own power and ability to choose a new path.
But words have power. The story that we tell ourselves defines who we are. Those words determine whether we see ourselves as in control or as victims. They determine whether we see ourselves as liberated or caged.
Sober has always been a powerful word to me. Sober. Alcoholic. Abstinence. Addicted. All powerful words that have always made me think more of subjugation than liberation.
When I was trying for years to stop drinking I often berated myself for failing with the words …
“Why can I not just stop…”
By saying I cannot, I had already determined that I couldn’t and was left to battle that created reality. And so I changed my words to shed light on the struggle and face it.
I can stop drinking.
I will stop drinking.
I have stopped drinking.
Once you have stopped drinking what about staying sober? What about the phrase I slipped. When people talk about slipping after they stop drinking, for me the phrase “I slipped”, sounds like it was not my fault or was out of my control. If I were to drink again I would not say “I slipped” because I do not want to accept that as reality. If I slipped I am not in control. It was an accident. I cannot take action to address it.
When I say
I chose to drink again, damnit. Why did I make that choice and what led me to it?
I feel that I can then begin to take things apart and address them. Likely, I will not have all the answers or the strength to get from here to there right now but I know I have brought my reality into the light and can own it.
Words have power. The words I choose in life directly affect me and those around me.
Before I started this journey to change my habits of drinking, I knew for a long time that I needed to make a change. I would wake up Monday (or sometimes Tuesday or Wednesday) after a stretch of drinking telling myself that this was not the way I wanted to live and I NEEDED to change. I felt that if I could get through the weekend, I would have enough momentum to roll along to a new way of being. Sadly, I would get to Thursday evening and feel tired, stressed, happy, “healed”, bored, lonely, nothing, everything, anything, and I would head to the bar, only to start the cycle again the next week.
I clearly recall thinking “Why can I not just stop for the weekend and give myself that jump start?” There were even times when I would feel such shame, fear, failure, grief, and “poor me” that I would not wait a few days. I would keep the “painless train” rolling. Until of course, I found myself curled up around the toilet after an hour of straight vomiting, nothing left but bile, and still my body convulsing, sweating, shivering… I would cry, promise, commit to not slipping again… and would make it a couple of days.
Then I would find a reason to go back to my folly.
On November 18, 2019, I decided THIS WAS IT. I was DONE!!! No More. That afternoon, I went to the bar and then to the liquor store on my way home. Sitting in my chair that night, drink in hand, listening to the familiar “clink, clink”, I wondered how I had gotten here again. “DAMNIT, I FUCKING SLIPPED AGAIN…!!!” But a voice inside clearly and quietly said “No Fred, you did not slip. You got up, got in your car, drove to the bar, ordered a drink, sucked it down like it was the last one on earth, and then asked for another.” Once done, all thoughts of the morning promises were gone and I was ‘free’.
That realization hit me like an angry gorilla whose banana I just stepped on. I was left naked in the light of my personal reality and the truth of my situation. I was accepting a place where I was not in control of my choices (I understand I cannot control all things in my life). I wanted to, nay needed to, make a change in my thinking and that started with changing my wording. And so, by the grace and mercy of God, I chose to speak words of power into my life.
I can NOT drink.
This is something I can do.
And so I put that to the test. I went AF until that Friday, when I had a trip planned to the coast to see a friend – I drank there. When I returned on Sunday, I restarted my AF journey with the mindset that I choose not to drink.
Something “clicked” and drinking as an activity or panacea was not even a consideration for me any longer. It seemed my vision cleared and I looked for other things to do. I know I could choose to drink any time I wanted. That realization, however, was coupled with the commitment that I did not want that choice.
So here I am, ~90 days later.
Please pay special attention to the words you use, especially when talking to yourself. Words have power, to create and destroy. To build up and to tear down. Use them wisely.
We are an independent, anonymous and private community who share resources, support and talk it through every day. It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using
How do you go Sober?
B Be accountable Talk to Us We Understand
A Avoid alcohol like the plague Ideas Here
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats Ideas Here
A Allow yourself to cry when needed Ideas Here
N Nourish your body with good food Ideas Here
C Create happy & fun memories Ideas Here
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day Ideas Here
W Work hard to get what you want Ideas Here
O Organise things for less stress Ideas Here
R Realise you can’t control it all Ideas Here
K Keep going & prepare for success Ideas Here
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest Sleep Solutions