From I Can’t to I Won’t to I Don’t Drink -Celebrating 6 Months Sober

My therapist said last week, “There are three phases of addiction recovery… I can’t drink, I won’t drink, and I don’t drink.” I sat there, kind of proud for a moment, knowing for sure that I wasn’t in the “I can’t drink” phase… and maybe, at 6 months sober, I’m on the edge of the “I don’t drink” phase.

Until he said, “you’re not near the I don’t drink phase.”

He said, “you haven’t made it through all the seasons yet but you’ve made it through a lot.”

He’s right.

Doing well. Not “there yet”.

It’s getting warm now, edging toward summer. Last summer I spent every night watching my chickens and drinking a glass of wine. Because that’s classy drinking right!?!

Work hard and enjoy a sophisticated ladie’s reward!

My reward today is a day of hard work and that is enough. The accomplishment is my reward. And I’m sitting watching my chickens a bit with a cold Pellegrino. They’ll put themselves to bed shortly. Fascinating really. And I’ll remember in the morning I locked their gate, too, because I don’t drink.

Can’t, won’t, or don’t… words for thought.

Today is my birthday and I am 6 months sober! On my six-month sober anniversary, what can I say to help if you are trying to stop drinking? I can tell you alcohol lied to me. It told me it was helping me. I believed it for way too long. Then I started to listen to my truth-telling inner voice which said…

you have to quit

it’s too much

why are you doing this?

check google…it will tell you you have a problem.

I was in the begining of the “I can’t drink?” phase

And I’d commit to stop drinking and I’d make it one day. I’d tell my husband, who really thought I was drinking too much but also was kind of clueless because I’m was so sneaky

don’t buy me any wine I’m trying to not drink

But then the next day I’d stock up at the grocery thinking I could let it just sit in the wine rack looking pretty.

Silly me.

And then that night I’d drink a bottle…or more…or include a shot of something else because my husband was having a little something. And I’d feel so relaxed or so I thought..until I fell into bed only to wake in a sweat. Then I lied to myself…man your hormones are out of whack I would say…. menopause I’d say. And I kept believing the alcohol’s lies and running on its hamster wheel continuing to feel ashamed of everything…afraid to feel all the hurts.

And my sweet husband would come home with more wine so he wouldn’t have to go out if I ran out. Yes, he was a helpful fella, huh? And the alcohol would tell me…you have to drink it because he bought it for you. Okay, maybe that last one was just me lying to me…. but who really knows who is saying what because with alcohol everything gets confused and fuzzy. Right?

I didn’t know alcohol doesn’t distinguish between feelings. It takes them all. It squashes all the good feelings right along with the bad ones. But we are human and born to feel and have emotions. And now six months later I am feeling all the feels and emotions and …while some are tough…

WOW, am I loving it! Because the good ones feel really good….for real!

I have been seeing my therapist for two years…for childhood issues and an abusive relationship. He did not know how much I was drinking until six months ago because I didn’t tell anyone it was my drug of choice. I didn’t know it was my drug of choice because it was just wine, right? and a bottle is just two glasses, right?  My mom told me from the time I was born to stop showing my emotions. She couldn’t handle hers so she certainly couldn’t handle helping me with mine. My therapist sure is seeing all kinds of emotions coming out of me now! He gave me some wonderful wisdom about feelings.

These four steps have helped me a lot and combined with HALT

    1) Emotions are meant to be felt

    2) Emotions are meant to be expressed

    3) Emotions are meant to be sourced (often this is where HALT helps)

    4) Emotions are meant to be understood (hopefully by yourself and those around you)

But unless I actually get the opportunity to feel them I can never work through them. And feelings change. Sit with them a bit and they will go away or evolve or get forgotten. When I medicated with alcohol, I prolonged my emotions and never resolved them. ( More on HALT – HALT 4 Triggers That Slip People Up When They Stop Drinking – Understanding HALT )

Here are some things I’ve gained in 6 months sober.

    1) I am finally making progress in therapy.

    2) I have a smile that won’t quit combined with genuine happiness.

    3) The oddities happening with my brain are reversing.

    4) My creativity and ability as an artist has returned! (I could not pick up a paint brush..frozen with fear of failure)

    5) I’m remembering conversations and able to take care of my job with our business!!

    6) I’m waking up fairly early in a fairly good mood.

    7) I am getting things done without this crazy, moody, procrastination argument in my head.

    8) My husband seems much happier and we are no longer nit-picking at each other.

    9) I realized by allowing myself to feel grief I found out it is actually love! 

    10) And no more lies…to myself, to my family and friends about how much I was drinking, and most importantly I’m not listening to alcohol’s lies. 

I have always shied away from celebrating my birthday. My entire life has been ruled by shame and grief and hidden emotions. I was resolving nothing by drinking away all of the anxieties and I couldn’t even see what I was drinking away. Most of them weren’t even real. At 6 months sober I am gaining momentum as I sit with my feelings and they show me their identity. Some are good and some are really really hard but all are helping me to grow. Alcohol’s lies have been squashed and that is making my life worth celebrating!

 I am worth celebrating and so are all of you! 

Reading from 6 more perspectives on celebrating 6 months sober:

Finding Balance at 6 Months Sober

6 Months Sober – Self Discipline as Self Care

6 Months Sober – Flying Away from the Drinking Obsession

6 Reasons I’m Staying Sober – Perspective from 6 months Alcohol Free

Resonating Harmoniously at 6 Months Alcohol-Free

Jealousy of Slips at 6 Months Sober

If you’re “sober curious” …If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break… Talk to Us

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

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