So you decided that you want to stop drinking. Great! Yet you haven’t had the success with staying sober that you had hoped for. Have you been wondering why you keep coming back to day one? Why do you keep caving? Is it because you are weak, or do others (those who seem to effortlessly add up sober day after day) know something you don’t know? Is there a secret sauce or magic bullet? What’s holding you back?
I think for many, you need to ask this: do I really want to stop drinking? Am I convinced that I need to stop drinking? Or, have you decided that you’re really not that bad, that you just need to cut back a bit? Who do you negotiate with?
Maybe you said, “I need to quit drinking.”, but after a week or two of abstinence, you’ve changed your mind and you’re missing the drink. Maybe you’ve forgotten the last hangover. But you’re still going to cut back. And maybe you do…for a few days. Or maybe you don’t.
You go out with friends who order drinks, and, what the hell…I think I’ll have just one. And the next morning you realize that one turned into too many and you’ve got a monster hangover. So you swear you’re going to stop drinking again. And you do…for another week or so. But now it’s the weekend and everyone else is drinking. What are you going to do?
Maybe you make it through a white knuckle weekend, but you didn’t cave. And you make it another week. I think I can handle it this time…no more drinking too much, no more hangovers. But then you have a bad day at work and come home and have a drink (but only one). So you think you’ll just have one drink every day now, and a few days later, you say, I’m doing great with one, but I’d love to have another, and two isn’t so bad. The weekend arrives and you’re hanging out with friends, and everyone is drinking and having a blast. And the next morning… another monster hangover. Jeez, how many did I have?
You say, I guess I really do need to stop drinking, and the cycle begins anew. Why is this happening?
I cannot tell you why this happens for every person here, but I can tell you why it happened to me, and I do believe this applies to many. First, I wasn’t sure I wanted to stop drinking. I knew I wanted change…knew I was drinking too much, and was unable to even make a start before I found Boom. After I had a few AF days, I began to get a little comfortable with a day without a drink, and I was reading daily on Boom (but not posting). After a month or so, I was ready to drink again, and thought somehow I had become rewired. I didn’t have a plan, other than drink less. Being accustomed to daily drinking, I guess I thought stopping after one or two drinks would be easy, but that was a lie.
So began my cycle of wash, rinse and repeat. And all the while, I was still unsure I truly wanted to stop drinking. I began posting a little, and engaging. There were many comments about making AF (alcohol-free) non-negotiable. But I was still negotiating (with myself). The thought of never drinking again was something I could not commit to. But I was able to commit to short periods being AF (but still willing to negotiate). And after many (longer and longer) cycles alcohol-free, there was no epiphany, but a slow realization that a life without alcohol was not a bad thing, and that rather than missing out, I was gaining freedom and a clarity of mind, all the time.
If there is a secret sauce, it is in your willingness to make a commitment to become and remain alcohol-free, to stop negotiating with yourself about whether or not you need to stop drinking. You are either AF or you are not. If you are not committed to being AF, you are still a drinker because it is only a matter of time before the next drink. We all have our triggers to drink, and the thing that keeps me from caving to a trigger is the ability to say to myself, I do not drink, I do not want to drink, I will not drink. The biggest barrier is your attitude and commitment. Do you want to stop drinking? Then stop negotiating.
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