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The Trick To Quit Drinking is to Never Quit Quitting
Once alcohol got its claws in me, I definitely drank compulsively. I knew I didn’t want to drink. I thought all the time about how much I didn’t want to drink. I swore I would never, ever drink again. Then I drank and drank and drank like all the booze in the world was somehow going to disappear out from under my nose. I did this over and over and over again for years, caught in a wash, rinse, repeat cycle of absolute misery. By the end, it got to the point where I would sometimes cry about how much I didn’t want to drink WHILE I WAS DRINKING. I hated it. I didn’t want to do it. My rational mind fought with everything it had to prevent me from doing it. Still, I just could not seem to stop.
I’ve cried about how much I didn’t want to drink while drinking at the same time. That compulsive behavior is the hardest thing to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it themselves. I’ve found myself years sober trying to explain that horrible, infuriating feeling of your brain and body being hijacked, that obsessive-compulsive wash-rinse-repeat cycle, to non-problem drinker friends and they really want to understand, but they can’t. Never quit quitting is the best and truest advice there is.
For me, that kind of compulsive behavior was the most frightening part of struggling with addiction. It is also one of the hardest things to explain to people who have never experienced it. In her book, Laura McKowen wrote that at one point, her husband yelled at her to, “just f*cking STOP!” That was such a relatable moment for me, because I also had friends and family members tell me, “Just stop,” and I had no real way to explain to them that no matter how much I wanted to, I could not physically make myself do it. I would think about how fed up they all were with me and wish I could somehow make them understand how much more fed up I was with myself. Ultimately, most people just saw it as an excuse, or as some kind of cop-out because I “wanted” to keep drinking, or I just wasn’t “committed enough.” Nothing could have been further from the truth.
Standing at the fridge with a bottle in my hand , looking at it and KNOWING I DID NOT WANT to drink… and yet I did it! Again and again! And again! The person who wrote in her diary in the mornings – of desperation, of regret, of shame- seemed to be a completely different person from the one who picked up the bottle in the afternoon.
Posting here for one.
Not believing the voice in my head. Separating the voice who urged me on, who screamed at me, from the real me!
Not believing the voice that told me I wanted to drink was the biggest hurdle.
I had to make that leap of faith , believing ( pretending to believe in the beginning) that the real me truly would be better off without drink.
I did not believe it . I did not believe others. I pretended , until it was true.
Minute by minute I allowed myself anything and everything… except drink. No negotiations! Once I engaged with the voice in my head I was lost. So I didn’t. I ate, I distracted myself, I danced, I cried, I was grumpy, I wrote in my diary, I knitted until my joints hurt….
I do not want to ever have to do this over again! ( Heading for 9 months AF for the first time in my life)
I have seen so many posts on BOOM in which someone has slipped and says something along the lines of, “What’s wrong with me?” The answer is “Nothing.” At least, not in the way you’re thinking. The truth is, if you’re struggling with addiction, you’re struggling at least in part with compulsive behavior, and that is very, very normal. It took me a long time to understand that my inability to stop drinking wasn’t some kind of failure of willpower or morality on my part; rather, it was a cycle of obsessing about alcohol and then compulsively drinking it that I had to address. It took me a long time. Years of stopping and starting and stopping again. Years of slipping and sliding and beating myself up. Years of grabbing the rope and then either letting go or losing my grip on it. Every day I thank my lucky stars that I’m so gosh darn stubborn, because if I lacked that quality I don’t know if I’d have ever managed to stop.
I was trying and failing for years. I’ve cried while drinking cause I just couldn’t stop myself. I’ve screamed at myself in the mirror. Asking myself. What the fuck is wrong with you. Why do I keep doing it? But this time has been different. I just stopped. I don’t question the decision. It’s non-negotiable
The only trick that I know to quit drinking is to never, ever, quit quitting. I quit over and over and over again. Every time I quit, I gained a little more space between my rational self and the compulsion to drink. I gained a little more time between the compulsion to drink and the act of drinking. Inch by painstaking inch, I learned how to separate the urge to act from the action itself. I learned how to put cravings off for 5, 10, 15 minutes at a time until they passed. I learned how to outlast days when I thought of nothing but how much I wanted a drink. I finally gained enough space that I was able to stop for nearly three months before I backslid. It took me another sixteen months to get myself back on the wagon after that, but I did it, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna fall back off.
This is my first sober journey in many years, but I’m really at peace with it this time. I’m not mad about not drinking, I made the choice to be AF and I intend to stay that way forever. Not sure why it’s different this time…maybe just the fact that I never want to go through any of the aforementioned things again. And I know the easiest way to do that is just to not do it. Just like in the book I’m reading now, “I’d rather have none than one” cuz I know, one won’t do..
Never again do I want to experience the feeling of not wanting to do something but being completely unable to stop myself from doing it, and I know that if I pick up a drink, I will be right back in it. I much prefer being on this side of that experience. On this side, I actually have a choice. On this side, I make the decisions. On this side, I don’t feel like something else is in control of me. Snidely is still there, and I’m sure he always will be to some extent, but he is no longer the puppet master. These days he’s relegated to a small corner of my brain where I keep a close eye on him. He likes to try to hatch nefarious plots to bring me back into his clutches, but I’m wise to his tricks. If he tries to poke me with a stick, I take it off him and whack him with it until he goes back where he belongs. This is MY world, not his, and as long as I’m calling the shots, he is going to lose. Every single time.
Related Reading :
The Art of Living Sober is a Skill that Takes Practice
But I can’t be an alcoholic! I didn’t hit rock bottom!
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More from our Blog :
Guide to your First Month Sober: Why and How to Quit Drinking
Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying
“I think I have a problem with drinking”
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[…] we have a couple of sayings that are repeated often to people who are struggling to stay sober. The Trick To Quit Drinking is to Never Quit Quitting and The Art of Living Sober is a Skill that Takes Practice. These are not just catchy phrases […]
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