Not so long ago, my life was full of “if onlys.” If only my life wasn’t such a mess. If only I had more money. If only I weren’t so lonely. If only I could find a better job. If only, if only, if only. The biggest “if only” of all was, “If only I could quit drinking.”
By 2011, I was uncomfortable with my drinking and started trying to take nights off and moderate. By 2014, I knew, unequivocally, that I had a serious problem with alcohol and thought about trying to quit all the time. By 2017, I was making serious attempts to stop. No matter what I did, though, I could never seem to get a solid grip on the sober rope. I knew booze was ruining my life. I knew that it was going to keep getting worse. I knew that I had to quit. I was desperate and discouraged and willing to do absolutely anything in my power to quit drinking.
Except, that is, to actually quit drinking.
I know. Bear with me here.
The first and most important thing is that I was a MESS. My drinking was negatively affecting absolutely every aspect of my life. I was messing up at work. I was messing up with friends and family. I was messing up financially. I was messing up as a mother. I was completely unbalanced emotionally. My whole life seemed to be crashing down around me and I felt suffocated under the burden of it all. The only thing that ever provided any relief at all was drinking, and as desperate as I was to get sober, I was just as desperate to escape all the other problems in my life.
I was stuck in a vicious cycle in which all I could think was, “If only I could get sober (I could solve all the problems in my life)” but also felt, absolutely desperately, that I could not quit drinking until those problems had been solved. The “if onlys” went both ways, you see.
“If only I could find a less stressful job,” (I could quit drinking).
“If only I could get out from under all this debt,” (I could quit drinking).
“If only I had more supportive friends,” (I could quit drinking).
“If only I could get a break from parenting,” (I could quit drinking).
After every failed attempt at sobriety I would beat myself up for being weak, for not being able to hang on, for messing up yet again. Then I would get drunk and start rationalizing – of course I couldn’t quit drinking – look at how messed up my life was! Then I would fall into my old pattern of drinking my life away.
Ultimately, I had become the victim in my own story. I felt like I could dream about the things I wanted, but that I had very little power to do anything to make those dreams a reality. Every effort seemed futile. Every choice seemed incorrect. Every goal seemed out of reach.
And so I drank.
My last Day One came on the tail end of a two-week bender, which had been preceded by two additional weeks of some pretty heavy drinking. There had been many, many Day Ones in my past, but that one was different. I was so, so tired of drinking. I had been going so hard for so long that I didn’t even miss alcohol for six solid days. I was actually glad I wasn’t drinking. My body was exhausted. I was emotionally numb. I simply didn’t have the energy to try to sneak a drink, or to dream “if only” scenarios. Mostly I tried to sleep, I played video games, and I spent a lot of time sitting in the shower.
By the time an actual craving hit on day seven, I had six alcohol free days behind me. Even though Snidely was screaming at me that it was time to head to the liquor store, the memory of my last worst time drinking was still so fresh that I was willing to do absolutely ANYTHING to avoid picking up a drink. So I chain smoked cigarettes, ate about a metric ton of chocolate, and scrolled through BOOM for about two hours. That was also the day I wrote my very first post.
Finding this community helped me let go of the “if onlys.” It allowed me to work through my stuff in a safe place, and helped me find a way to stop focusing on a vague future and start focusing on today. After all, today is all I have. And I will not drink today.
Won’t you join me?
More From this Author on How She Quit Drinking:
TOOLS FOR YOUR SOBER TOOLBOX
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