I’ll be 7 years sober in March, and I owe that to something I never imagined I would find myself doing, actively participating in an online community for support to stop drinking. The informal private blogging that we do together has encouraged me to keep track of exactly how I’ve felt along the way. Not just thinking it through but writing my own narrative away from the endless drama of addiction which was the story that had me trapped. Every pivotal moment in my alcohol-free days since my last day one back in 2015 has been written down by me, shared, and chewed over a bit.
Aside from keeping track of where I came from and where I am going, there is a simple and very practical goal in joining a community to help you stop drinking and that is accountability. Accountability, in and of itself, can be a very helpful tool. Simply pledging not to drink each day encourages you to follow through with that promise. If it weren’t for this accountability and “record-keeping” that we do in our community it would be all too easy for me to slip back into the idea that I wasn’t that bad – and allow myself an “innocent drink or two”. I have found through many years of life experience that even if I could control or moderate my drinking when I was younger, it is best to keep that door closed now. It’s non-negotiable. I Don’t Drink. But in the day-to-day, year-to-year reality of life, I avoid the complacency that causes many people to forget how hard it was to stop drinking at first, by talking it through quite routinely. If I hadn’t written it down and shared it and talked it through with many of the same people I started this journey with, it would be all too easy to forget how serious my drinking problem was.
When I was drinking I was afraid. I was afraid that I was destroying my health. I was afraid that the whites of my eyes were turning yellow. I was afraid that I was an alcoholic. I was afraid that I couldn’t stop drinking. I was afraid of Sobriety. Afraid I’d be dull. Afraid I’d lose my friends. Afraid I couldn’t do it. Afraid that if I stopped drinking, everyone would know my secret.
When I was drinking I lived in a cloud of shame and I had no idea how heavy that cloud was until I stopped. I think that the reason that I felt ashamed, was that I thought I was choosing to get drunk every night. I thought that I was choosing to be an irresponsible parent, an impatient wife, and an unsympathetic daughter. I thought that I was choosing to put everything that I’ve worked for and everything that I’ve been blessed with at risk. So I felt stupid and guilty and ashamed.
What finally did solve my problem was understanding that I did not want a drink because I was tired or stressed or weak-willed I wanted a drink because I was addicted. Understanding how my addict brain worked and that I could change it by consistently saying no to the idea of “one glass won’t hurt” is what finally helped me stop drinking and stay stopped. Because part of understanding my addict brain was understanding that if I did drink again I would be right back on the front lines of the battle and I might not make it the next time.
It’s like a Siren’s song. The song of the Siren enslaves its listener. If you listen to the Siren her voice will hypnotize you and draw you to crash against the rock. She seduces you with her song so that she can have company at the bottom of the sea.
When you get to the point with alcohol where you begin to hear that Siren song it is time to stop.
That Siren song is a voice that I heard in my last few months of drinking. It was kind of magical and very seductive and beautiful, but it was dark and terrifying and that voice was near the end of the second bottle of wine drunk alone on an empty stomach and that voice said, “you are mine” “we are a team” “we are beautiful together” “we are powerful together” “everything is us” “nothing else matters” “nothing else matters” “nothing else matters” ….
And that Siren Song will still be there if I drink again. I can quite literally feel her there on the tip of my tongue, waiting, waiting…. for a chance to sing again…. “nothing else matters” “nothing else matters” “nothing else….
I have to turn away from that song. I turn away by NOT drinking. And my reward for turning away from that beautiful, seductive voice? EVERYTHING. My reward is everything!
EVERYTHING except oblivion
That’s where the siren lives
She lives in oblivion and will try to lure me there if I drink again. She can have it. I prefer to be awake – alive – present.
I remember feeling that my bottle of wine was like a friend. A calm harbor at the end of the day. A lover who understood me and would soothe me. I remember the feeling of loss when I left my friend behind. The mourning for my lover. I remember it being so hard to imagine NEVER DRINKING AGAIN. I remember that very clearly even after two and a half years happily sober and I KNOW if I drink again I’ll be back to that place in a flash.
When I stopped drinking one day at a time I began to lose that fear. I began to KNOW that I could hold on.I began to trust myself. I began to think for myself and write what I was thinking and read it and LEARN from myself. I stopped buying a lifestyle that was Killing my soul. I stopped making excuses for behavior I despised. I worked hard to hold onto my freedom and now I revel in that Freedom every day because Sober I OWN MYSELF!
The blogging format used by the online community to stop drinking that I joined back in 2015, and the one that I have since created – has a whole other purpose than simple accountability. Blogging encourages you to take your voice back. Blogging is all about self-expression and self-examination. It’s about reflection and it’s a deeply personal style of writing.
The addiction will always be there. But as long as I work my program a bit every day; write, read, listen, respond, feel, think, grow. As long as I continue to feed my soul with pride and dignity I will never give in to the desire to drown my spirit again.
The Siren Song is gone for me now for the most part and I have got to tell you that sailing through life without the constant worry that I’m going to crash into the rocks because I acknowledged the “beauty ” of the siren’s voice – I S F R E E D O M.
Freedom is good – I like freedom – I used to think that I drank to feel free and now I have learned that the only way for me to be free is to NOT drink But at first – maybe in the first year and a bit AF – that Siren song can be relentless and it is frightening to think that it will never go away. I could not have shut her down without the community support to stop drinking all around me in the early days.
The Siren song for me was this
My brain would wander to the wine rack and sing
You NEED me
You NEED me because you are lonely and I will engage you
You NEED me because you are Stressed and I will calm you
You NEED me because you are angry and I will stop the fire
You NEED me because you are bored and I will entertain you
I make you BEAUTIFUL
I make you SPECIAL
I make you VIBRANT
I AM your CREATIVE ENERGY
I AM your SENSUALITY
I FILL THE VOID
The Siren sings
Don’t Lose me because if you let me go you will lose YOU!
THOSE WERE LIES!!! Alcohol Lies!
I wish that those of us who are playing Russian Roulette when we drink had some sort of tattoo or something hidden away on our inner arm that would turn red when it was time to stop. Some identifier that would make it clear to us and everyone else that we should not be encouraged to drink or pressured to drink or even sold alcohol actually because that alcohol elevator is only going down for us – There is a bullet in the chamber. Put the gun down now.
There is a certain point at which nothing and no one can pull you back from the edge
We all have to choose to stop if that is not going to happen to us.
Turn right instead of left — it just takes a single decision to steer the boat away from the rocks rather than blindly crashing into them.
It is tremendously difficult to tell that Siren NO in the early days because it knows your weak spots, it knows your insecurities, it knows the very things that you are afraid of because that Siren song is you.
You have to Blindly Say NO no matter what the reason is that the Siren gives you to drink today by understanding that the reasons are coming from YOU and only YOU can change the course of your ship and move it away from the rocks
Your life is Precious!
Call out the Siren! Tell us what it sings to you! I bet that it’ll help you turn your ship away from the Siren song if you share its lies with us – because we all have heard it too!
Don’t passively slip away into oblivion- come talk to us
Call out the Siren! Tell us what it sings to you! I bet that it’ll help you turn your ship away from the rocks if you share the Siren’s lies with us –
because we all have heard them too!
Understanding Fading Affect Bias Helps
This poem was written by another member of our community today and it inspired this post
Beyond the guilt and the shame.
Beyond the sorrow and the pain.
Beyond the forgetful nights and regretful days.
Beyond the sickness and the constant haze.
Beyond all the tears and the wasted years.
Beyond the darkness and despair.
Beyond…I found myself there.
Beyond the addiction, I am finally free.
Free to feel, to dream and to just be me.
Beyond is truly a great place to be.~
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Don’t let the shame of the stigma of addiction keep you from saying
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