I’ve been sober for almost 6 years now, and I’m loving it.
You can come up with a whole load of reasons why it’s better to be sober than it is to be pissed, but I can only adhere to one.
I can tell you a load of stuff about how hard it is to
But you know all that. That’s why you’re here.
Some of you will get sober and stay sober, some of you will get sober for a while and then get drunk again. Rinse and repeat. And that’s life, your choice.
I have a little theory about why this is, and it’s not about weakness and strength, happy hormones and sad ones, good genes and bad genes, neuroplasticity, monkey brains, wine witches or any other theory you’ve ever heard. It’s about one thing and one thing alone which is: The ability to call time on your bullshit and take responsibility.
Yes, you read me right. I said that whether you drink or not is down to whether you take responsibility for your own bs or not.
So, I suppose I owe you some form of explanation for this undoubtedly unpopular statement.
Most of us have a whole host of reasons why we drink. I’m not going to give any here to illustrate my point, because you are capable of doing that for yourself. Those of you who know me know that I have little truck with ‘truths’ so I’ll cut to the chase.
I may be wrong, but I believe the common denominator between all the drunks and the addicts of other sorts on this planet is PAIN. Visceral mental pain.
If you take your recovery seriously and get to about the 18-month mark when you’ve stopped bullshitting yourself (not drinking does that, it calls time on BS), but are still lying to other people, you have a pretty good chance of pushing through the boredom and social ostracisation and arriving at the point when you know that you need to do some SERIOUS work on yourself, which means you have to learn how to take responsibility. And believe me, that is not as easy as it sounds. Calling yourself out on your own stuff takes serious balls.
What I’m suggesting is not a neat digest of the tenets of AA, a do it yourself 12 steps. No, what I am suggesting is far more profound and takes more than a bit of psychotherapy and a touch of mindfulness. Taking responsibility means going through the painful process of letting go of all of your stuff in order that you can arrive at a place of emotional freedom.
Taking responsibility means learning a new ‘language’, a new way of relating to yourself and other people. Taking responsibility means being brave enough to dig deep into your past, and recognising that you hurt so bad for so long because you simply could not let go of the hurts, slights, insults, the wrongs done to you that made you cry blood.
Taking responsibility means forgiving yourself.
Now, I’m not saying that I’m there by any stretch of the imagination, as I believe that in the same way that we don’t arrive fully formed on this planet but are given the gift of a lifetime to learn all sorts of stuff and about ourselves; neither do we arrive as fully formed sober people. Which is beautiful, because we can then spend the rest of our lives learning new stuff about ourselves, others and the world around us. Stuff that is inaccessible if we are drugged-up, pissed-up or addicted in any other way.
So if you find yourself in a place where you want to start drinking again for whatever reason,
If you find that although you have stopped drinking for a while, but you are stuck in the twilight zone not wanting to go back and not able to move forward, take a step back, walk 360 degrees around yourself, spot the bullshit and call it out.
Then, sit back on your haunches, figure out who you want to be and how you want to be regarded, then stand up and get on with it.
I failed to do this and the universe took over, and believe me you really do not want to go there. It took staring death in the face for me to understand the meaning of the word responsibility and that I only have one life and as such, I am duty-bound to live it the best way I can. Not live either in hell or purgatory of my own making when I could be creating my own heaven.
Because doing otherwise is bullshit, aka a slow and painful death by suicide for yourself and the murder of those who love you most who have to sit there and watch you die.
I can no longer help those who are trying to beat addiction.
You see, I am not one of those good souls who dedicate themselves to helping others. Who listen without judgement, who encourage and cajole tirelessly. Who are unfailingly kind and positive. I can only help those who have determined to help themselves.
So, here is the final digest of what I have learnt. I hope it helps.
Not only do you have to want to give up, but you have to be scared of losing something that is more precious than words can tell. For some it will be family, for some it will be your life. For others, it will be both.
You have to be under no illusion whatsoever that because you haven’t taken a drink for a month, three months, six months, a year, two years that you are ‘cured’ enough to risk taking a drink again. As AA people are so fond of saying ‘first you take a drink and then the drink takes you’.
Physical health recovers quickly. Mental health is another matter.
Many think that doing and achieving is the way to beat the wine witch. These things help in building self-esteem whilst bringing some sense of confidence, but they are a distraction, they do not cure the pain that lies at the heart of why you drank in the first place.
Take time to find out what it is that causes your pain and address it. If you need to take anti-depressants, take them. If you feel the need to seek psychotherapy, seek it. Do whatever it takes to make sure that you never fall back into the trap of the booze. Your resilience or lack of it could prove to be the difference between success and failure, as your ability to really get to know yourself as the person that you were meant to be.
Learn the skills that will help you to relax your mind and bring you closer to your true purpose.
Understand that your happiness is in your own hands and nobody else’s and open and honest communication is the road to true salvation.
To my mind, guilt and fear are two of the biggest barriers to recovery.
Own your problem. There are many clever ways of denying its depth: If you have a problem with alcohol, say so. Talk about it, because it is the sharing of your story with others that will loosen the grip of shame and set you free. This may sound like I’m advocating AA. I’m not, I’m just saying that the basic tenet of the ‘share’ is healthy the ‘anonymous’ bit is no longer fit for purpose because hiding behind the word and only sharing your secret with AA/recovery makes it difficult to face the world without fear of judgement. In fact, it makes re-entry into the real world more challenging than it should be.
Recovery from alcoholism is exhausting and can lead one to become stuck in a comfortable furrow, which eventually causes discomfort of its own. Take good care not to exchange the prison of drunkenness for the prison of sobriety; neither is good for your mental health.
So, in a nutshell, my message to you is you are human. Apologise when you need to but do not carry your past on your back. Be loud, be proud: in doing so you will not only be helping yourself, but you will be doing an immense service to others.
I chose emotionally freedom and heaven on earth.
What do you choose?
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