When I was drinking I lived in a cloud of shame. I had no idea how heavy that cloud was until I stopped drinking. I self-medicated stress, and anger, and loneliness, and simple boredom with alcohol. I drank to celebrate and drank to socialize and felt shame that I lost control of how much I drank. I think that the reason that I felt ashamed, was that I thought I was choosing to get drunk. I thought that I was choosing to be an occasionally irresponsible parent, impatient wife, and 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. In the process of slowly losing control over years of how much, and how often, I drank – I began to feel like the situation was hopeless. So I felt stupid and guilty and ashamed.
If you spend any time on social media you’ll most likely notice that people see alcohol as a panacea for stress. Especially now, during the lockdowns and economic turmoil that have followed the pandemic, people are using alcohol to self-medicate depression, anxiety, boredom, and loneliness.
During periods that are more stressful, or when there’s a sudden relief of stress, you tend to see [alcohol] consumption go up,
Compared to a year ago, we’re seeing astronomical growth for all [alcoholic] beverages
There is no shame in talking about getting drunk on social media. If you lament your massive hangover people will commiserate. They’ll congratulate you for toughing it out and they’ll offer their favorite home remedies. They will almost never ever suggest that maybe you should stop drinking. If on the other hand, you brag about being sober on social media or attend an event and politely refuse the drinks because you are sober, suddenly people are concerned that there is something wrong with you. They might even suggest that you try to drink moderately. Alcohol-Free ? How? WHY!
The word alcoholic is often used as a slur. There should be no shame in being sober!
I often think I need to put on my big girl pants when talking about my sobriety with family and friends. Luckily I have a couple of very close friends, that I know are also sober. One of my friends was a tow truck driver when he was in his teenage years, and the sights he saw as a young boy convinced him to never drink a drop. He knows that over the last 5 years, I have struggled between moderation and sobriety. Once I had 6 weeks of being sober under my belt, I made sure I had my big girl pants on, and I told him my deep dark secret.
His response was
“I am so proud of you.”
That simple response from someone I admire and love meant more to me than the Facebook friends who would give me grief because I chose to kick the drink .
It takes a very adult sort of courage to talk openly about my sobriety. But when I could not control my drinking, the shame I felt took me back to simpler sensibilities from my childhood. Sin, shame, and redemption. I remember as a child taking the idea of sin very seriously. If I sinned I was terribly ashamed and knew that redemption would most likely come after a sound spanking. As an adult, I remember praying to God to help me stop drinking so destructively. My drinking felt like a sin but praying for redemption did not solve my problem.
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, I could bypass and re-route it by consistently saying no, is what finally helped me stop drinking and stay stopped. Because part of understanding that 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.
No one can do this for you. It is very hard work for a while to stay focused absolutely on not drinking when your addict voice calls. You really do need to make staying sober your first priority and say that no matter what happens, you will not “ medicate” or celebrate with alcohol, something that you know has become poison to you.
If you have figured out that alcohol is the problem rather than the solution for you and have committed to stop drinking stay focused and BE PROUD ! You are on to some serious truth there! I listened to a Podcast last night from the Naked Mind, where Annie Grace was interviewing Laura McKowen. They discussed the word alcoholic, and how it is often used as a slur. It was a very interesting discussion to listen to, because I realized last night that there should be no shame in being sober!
Self-medicating with alcohol, as we are often encouraged to do, leads to addiction for far more people than fit under the umbrella of what we normally think of as alcoholic. The life of a drinker, even a drinker who would be considered High Functioning, is taken up with regret, shame, hiding, feeling guilty, feeling bad. Taking care of ourselves–REALLY taking care of ourselves and not rushing for the odd mani-pedi or hairstyle, or cramming down another drink because we deserve it, or eating something we know is “bad for us”–is very different.
Self-care does NOT come in a bottle that is beautifully packaged and seductively sold. Self-care comes in truly paying attention to what your mind and body are needing at the moment. That freedom to just sit, if that’s what’s needed. Or to walk and enjoy nature, if that’s what’s needed. Or eat something high-carb and delicious, and really appreciating it before, during, and after. Or going to bed early, if that’s what’s needed. Eating dinner at 4 in the afternoon, if that’s what’s needed. I don’t know that I’ve ever truly checked in with myself to see what I NEED at that moment. It’s been a huge revelation to me. Even today, when I’m going 100 mph, it’s a choice and not something I’m being drug backward into.
It’s a whole new way of thinking.
A beginning, and not an end.
Did you know that alcohol related deaths have risen 100% in the last 20 years? If you are drinking too much don’t feel ashamed! Stop and feel PROUD to be sober. We’ll help. BOOM Community Rethink the Drink
We need to stop romanticising alcohol I think, let’s romanticise sobriety instead.
The lies we tell ourselves as we continue to hide
The nauseating rollercoaster we continue to ride
Our mind melds with a toxin so damaging
But lots drink it with pride
What chance do we stand against it?
Alcohol lies worldwide!
This endless cycle of drink, drunk, repeat,
Tell ourselves that our promises we’ll keep
But what if we just had to believe
That it’s possible to be fine without wine?
What if going sober isn’t a loss but a gain
That should be celebrated not concealed in shame
Sober what’s in a name:
O Offers a
B Beautiful alternative to just
E Existing in a
R Rinse, drink, repeat cycle
I was lost for a while
Now I’m finding my smile
And to Alcohol I’ll say
You’re no longer my style
Life is full of peaks and troughs
So don’t drown in booze when it all kicks off
Face your stuff
Don’t stuff your face with wine
You can sit in the uncomfortable feelings
And be fine over time
Don’t listen to the alcohol voice
That tells you to have a drink or five
It pretends you’re in control
It’s a clever trick
But you might not make it out alive
There’s nothing hauntingly romantic about oblivion or self destruct
When your brain and your internal organs are completely fcuk’d
Rethink the Drink
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Don’t let the shame of the stigma keep you from saying
“I think I have a problem with drinking”
Guilty Pleasure ?
That terrorist web was hard to leave
Insisting that I had to believe
That one won’t hurt
You earned this treat
Food on the table
Plenty to eat
I functioned fine
No one knew
All seemed well
This was my game
No room for two
Leave me alone with my hidden shame
I’ll deal with it later
When things are more calm
Not today though
Crack open a can
Muffle the sound .
I’m all alone
Checking the window
Glancing at the door
Only 1 , just one more
Bottle is done
I’ll drive to the shop
A quick errand I’ll run
I’ll lie through my teeth
Say we need some more bread
I’ll choose a new store
Can bare the looks
The paranoid thoughts
Does she remember me from before
This was my life of lying & guilt
No way to live
I was starting to wilt
I promise you now
It’s not too late to start
If I can do this
Believe me you can
Ignore that terrorist
Change the plan
Just for today I know I am free
Tomorrow will be as I intend it to be
With me in control
No more guilt , no more shame
It’s poison , it’s lies
Always the same
Making life unsteady
I’m telling you this
But you know it already
Life can be bliss ✨✨✨