All throughout the day yesterday I reflected on what an awful place I was a year ago. It was the end of a week long binge, that would carry until my last sip at a bar in downtown Boston around 11 PM. I have patchy memories of it and the next several hours until my memory fully kicked in and the full horror of what I’d done to myself became revealed. I was violently ill for days, bruises, nails split. I didn’t feel ‘good’ again until day 21 sober. I was so miserable, I didn’t really deal with cravings for a few weeks because I felt so terrible and I knew why I felt that way. I made a deep covenant with myself that I would never drink again. THAT commitment, made with me, by me, and only for me, I knew could *never be revisited*.
I began by writing with a large black sharpie the number of days that I was alcohol free on my wrist, starting with day 1. When I reached day 8, and saw the 8 on my wrist, I realized that my commitment was Infinity because the eight looked just like Infinity. Three days later, I had an Infinity sign tattooed on my left wrist as a symbol of that covenant that would never go away. (I have no other tattoos, so this was a big deal.)
For me, anyway, this–I VOWED to NEVER drink again in all its brutality and simplicity–has been the single, simple reason I have successfully stayed alcohol free. And I drank for every reason in the book. Stress, anxiety, not sleeping, everyone else drank, drinking was a rite of passage, PTSD, celebration, grieving, boredom, over-excitement, thinking it was the only way to enjoy or survive certain events, availability, means, unwinding, my job, my friends, habit, culture, cravings, I deserved it, I loved it, I hated it, I couldn’t have fun without it, I am an introvert, I am socially awkward, you name it, I had a serious, long-term relationship with alcohol that dated back to my childhood. I never lacked a justifiable reason to drink.
Here’s the thing.
I don’t struggle anymore.
Yes, the first few months were tough. I skipped business travel for two months. I had to learn how to do everything, all over again, from scratch. I had fear of how I could even do things anymore (concerts? movies? work mingles?). Even going to bed at night, alcohol was such a habit. Personal growth was hard. I cried. A lot. I was frustrated. A lot. My problems didn’t go away.
But, *I* got better. And better. And more present. And more fully who I was meant to be. I learned to control myself. And then, I learned to control my circumstances. And, a year later, in some cases my ‘problems’ are even worse. BUT! I am so much more capable of dealing with them and have such a greater desire to get up and ‘fight’ another day. My problems (while bigger) actually seem smaller. I am capable of experiencing pleasure and beauty in ways I never had before. A simple walk can make my heart soar at the beauty of something that catches my eye in nature. My creativity–rather than waning without alcohol–has flourished!
The key here is–I don’t struggle with the decision. I have never–not even once–revisited the decision to be alcohol free. There is no struggle. It’s all in the approach. And, if you remember the story of the two wolves, eventually, for me, the starved alcohol wolf grew weaker and weaker until he tucked his tail and walked away.
I don’t crave alcohol anymore. I don’t allow myself to wonder if I made the right decision. I do not allow ‘moderation’ talk in my mind. I never wonder if I could maybe have one glass a week. I deliberately chose words that feel even stronger than ‘promise’ to myself, I used words like ‘covenant’ and ‘vow.’
I used to think about alcohol all the time. My first several months, every hour of every day, I thought about alcohol. A year later, I don’t think about it very much anymore. I have ‘re-wired’ my life in such a way, and built an example to those around me (family and work) that I am well known now as a ‘non-drinker.’
I am not saying it was ‘easy.’ I am saying it was ‘simple.’ And thus, eventually, the struggle ended. The decision will never, ever be revisited.
Life alcohol free is so much better! Without a doubt, it has been the most life-changing, life-affirming, life-enhancing decision I have ever made. This is how it ‘worked’ for me.
More by this Author :
Sobriety is a Dirty Word which includes 34 reasons that I stopped drinking alcohol and found that sobriety was anything but a dirty word.
and Co-author of
We are an independent, anonymous and private community who share resources, support and talk it through every day. It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using
How do you go Sober? ( more reading in blue titles)
B Be accountable Talk to Us We Understand
A Avoid alcohol like the plague Ideas Here
L Let yourself enjoy regular sober treats Ideas Here
A Allow yourself to cry when needed Ideas Here
N Nourish your body with good food Ideas Here
C Create happy & fun memories Ideas Here
E Enjoy the precious moments in your day Ideas Here
W Work hard to get what you want Ideas Here
O Organise things for less stress Ideas Here
R Realise you can’t control it all Ideas Here
K Keep going & prepare for success Ideas Here
S Sleep enough for body & mind rest Sleep Solutions