Several times in the past few years, I made a resolution to stop drinking alcohol and to work hard at staying sober. I put my foot down with myself and said “Just Don’t Drink!” But after a few weeks or even days, I gave in to the call of the alcohol. I had worked very hard to stay sober but I just couldn’t seem to stick with it. So, I started again, and I worked even harder.
Nope. Another slip.
Just don’t drink?
It sounds so simple but for those of us who drink daily, it is a momentous decision to take action. It’s not just momentous to take action but momentous to stick to the decision.
It was becoming clear to me that no matter how hard I worked at it, staying sober wouldn’t stick. Working hard wasn’t working. What I needed was to work smarter! I needed to look at quitting drinking differently, so I decided at that point that I would get help in learning everything I could about staying sober. I read everything I could find on alcohol, the brain, addiction, and autobiographies of others who had gone through getting sober already. I signed up for an outpatient program and learned lots of coping skills and how to counter that call of alcohol.
That is what helped me get through my first 90 days sober and has carried me through to today.
You may have heard the quote, “If you love your job you never have to work.” I can relate it to staying sober. “If I love and enjoy learning how to stay sober, I don’t have to work hard at it.” Rather than “Work,” I prefer “Learn”. I can learn what needs to be done to get through it.
Learning is simple. We do it naturally. Babies do it. We all do it without even trying. There is no comparison to finally grasping what seemed like a difficult concept. That aha moment. That is learning. We learn through the doing. Through learning, we grow.
If you decide right now that you’ve had your last drink (last night, yesterday, last week, or even last month), what will tomorrow look like? Will you be happier? Will it be difficult? Will you have cravings? It’s highly likely it will be ‘yes’ to all of the above.
Think about it. Be prepared to struggle. Allow yourself to imagine.
What will the next few months look like? Will you start feeling much better physically, emotionally, and mentally? Will you think about drinking sometimes, and wish you could still drink? Will you get frustrated and think hard about possibly drinking again? Probably ‘yes’ to some or all of the above.
Let’s say you continue with your momentous decision, and you get past all of those challenges and so you are still sober after a year! What will the next year or two look like?
Will you feel healthier? Will you start feeling much more confident in your sobriety? Will you know you will be okay around others who are drinking without feeling like you are missing out? Most likely. I’d honestly say it’s nearly certain!
Will life be perfect? Hah! Sorry. Definitely not. In the immortal words of Forrest Gump, “…life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get” 😉🤭
Life will continue to be imperfect. But isn’t that what makes life interesting? Aren’t challenges what make us learn and grow?
Just don’t drink. Will life be greatly improved? I can’t say what life has in store, but I can say that whatever happens in life, it will be a better experience than if you were still drinking. If you are thinking about quitting drinking, there are no guarantees in life, but I can tell you this; if you make this momentous decision yours, your physical mental and emotional health will improve.
I recently read Alcohol Explained 2 by William Porter. I liked most of the book, and one thing, in particular, jumped out at me, the idea of our Self Image, how we have to change how we see ourselves after we stop drinking.
When I was a drinker, being a drinker was part of my identity. It was part of how I saw myself. I always figured that drinkers were the “fun” people and made a point of seeking them out in social and work situations. I gave out birthday cards with jokes about wine and other booze, made boozy jokes, and almost always gave a bottle of wine or spirits, or a case of beer for gifts or to show my appreciation.
Now that I’ve been a non-drinker for just over a year, most people that I’ve seen know that I no longer drink alcohol. I’m learning that I am still chatty, outgoing, and can still swear like a sailor if I choose to, all while being “sunshine warm sober” (to quote Catherine Gray’s new book). Before I thought the good feelings from being with friends were largely due to the drinks consumed. Now I know that those good feelings come anyways, they just take a bit longer when they are not helped by chemicals. It’s good to feel genuinely engaged with other people, rather than artificially oversharing and then regretting it or not remembering conversations.
I enjoy seeing people now, but I find a couple of hours is long enough for me. If my friends are drinking, they are starting to get drunk and I no longer like being around that. My game plan is to politely excuse myself, or slip silently away if that seems more appropriate. I’m no longer the one who wants to stay up all night, opening more bottles of wine, pouring more drinks, and trying to keep the “good times” going as long as possible.
Now I value my sober REAL connections with others. And I also value my time to myself and my rest, my mental and physical health. I suspect that the changes may not be very apparent to others, but to me, they feel monumental. A big shift away from “fitting in” with the drinking crowd, and toward doing what’s right for me. I’m still working on the new self-image piece, but I feel like it’s coming into focus on its own.
Everyone is different. There is no one-size-fits-all solution, but the instructions are the same. The instructions are simple.
1. Don’t drink
2. That’s it. Just don’t drink
Never stop learning. Never stop growing.
Join me Alcohol-Free today! A better life is standing by, waiting for you!
YOUR FUTURE SELF WILL THANK YOU.
If you are thinking about quitting drinking, about setting yourself free from alcohol, let’s give it a go. I’ve managed to be alcohol-free for 17 months now. That’s longer than I ever thought possible. I’m grateful and I don’t miss alcohol anymore. Not even a little. As with most of life, quitting booze can be hard, and that is why our Boom Rethink the Drink community is around. You don’t have to go through this alone.
Just Don’t Drink?!
What if I fail?