Reminding myself of alcohol’s wreckage helps me grow into sobriety
Image by nonmisvegliate from Pixabay
There isn’t one thought or idea or goal that I can pinpoint as the real deal-breaker in my relationship with booze. It might have been the hangover I had on that fateful Sunday that kept me from going running. It could have been the shame I felt because I had promised myself I would not get drunk again.
It may have been that every hangover, every broken promise, every failure, every letdown, and every fear of never getting out of the hell that alcohol created in my head finally culminated into my last-ditch effort to become the person that I really wanted to be.
I even wrote a post about how my dog got me sober, but that wasn’t a stand-alone reason either. I used that situation to catapult me forward, along with endurance running, secretly competing with other recently sober people and reminding myself of all that alcohol had never done for me.
I know we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others, but in this case, I like to compete. Whether it is a sober celebrity, friend, family member or blogger, I see them as inspiration and a reason not to let myself off the hook. If they can do it, so can I.
People get sober and stay sober. Every. Single. Day. This is how I do it.
The current state of the world with the COVID-19 pandemic is a challenge for all of us. Feelings of helplessness and fear of the unknown cause many of us anxiety. My brain instinctively knows that drinking can calm that anxiety quickly.
However, when I have bad days or crappy moments and don’t want to deal with my feelings and would rather reach for a beer, I simply remind myself that it didn’t work for me in the past.
When I try to come up with something positive that drinking has done for me, I can never list anything.
What I can list is all of the things drinking didn’t do for me.
It didn’t make me more successful or confident.
It didn’t make me braver or smarter or safer or more compassionate.
It didn’t make me healthier, happier or more socially adept.
It didn’t bring me well-being or quality sleep or authenticity or vulnerability.
It certainly didn’t bring me the social connections that I have craved for years.
I never woke up in the morning wishing I had just one more drink the night before. Alcohol is no magic elixir. All of my problems and insecurities and anxiety were still intact the next day. Alcohol simply delays you from truly living life.
In truth, what I received from alcohol was shame, fear, self-judgement, lost friends, failed marriages, car accidents, migraines, bad decisions, anxiety, depression, rumination, constant self-doubt, and overall unhappiness. I hated life and thought that it was too much work. I had little to no trust in myself and poor boundaries. I couldn’t identify my feelings half of the time, let alone know what to do with them.
Yet, every time I thought about what sobriety would be like, I couldn’t fathom joining the group of sad sober sacks — because I believed society’s deeply ingrained judgment of addicts. I thought that sobriety would be a life filled with shame and boredom. But I quit drinking anyway.
And, I have news for you: sobriety is better than drinking.
Life is better, truly better — even when bad things happen to you. You are able to get yourself up, dust yourself off and go on with your life more quickly when you are sober.
When I compare life today to what I went through in the past and remind myself of how badly I wanted to quit drinking, I see how little sense it makes to drink again.
Recently, I fell while running with my dog and banged up my face pretty good and I thought — THIS ISN’T SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN TO SOBER PEOPLE! Alas, things like this do happen to sober people and all people.
How you deal with what happens to you dictates how quickly you recover. There are resulting lessons learned and personal growth arising out of difficult life experiences.
You grow into sobriety. It all comes back to you.
The sober life was always there trying to take over and I could feel it lingering. It was like another dimension that I was living in simultaneously. I could glimpse the feelings I used to have and the things that I used to do — the person that I was before I got really deep into my drinking problem.
I used to write, cook, read, listen to music, run, hike, workout, go to movies and visit with people. I was never bored. I used to be someone that people came to for life advice. I had lots of friends and was known as someone others could trust. I was helpful and kind. I offered compassion and I didn’t judge. I was curious about others and life. I knew how to keep a secret.
Drinking didn’t completely take away all of those hobbies, but it got in the way. I knew that inside of me that softer, more authentic person existed and she knew how to do and be all of these things again — without a drink in her hand.
I tried time after time to reason with my addicted brain, but I never won.
It was only when I quit arguing and bargaining with myself that the light came on. I overcame the need to reason and rationalize and instead grit my teeth and said, “Let’s do this thing.” I stopped looking for the easy way out. I wanted sobriety more than I wanted to continue on with the misery and shame that my drinking problem brought me day after day after day.
I still want that, even in times of fear and uncertainty.
Now I am over ten months sober. I have started to settle into a new life, where I feel a sense of well-being and happiness a majority of the time. When problems and difficult feelings come my way, I face them and solve them, using other methods.
The discomfort is no different than the pain I felt when I was drinking, except that it dissipates more quickly now and I have the joy of a life well-lived to show for my efforts rather than a path filled with wreckage.
The benefits of living a sober lifestyle go far deeper than better skin and better sleep. There is connection, authenticity, compassion, curiosity and happiness.
I don’t feel ashamed anymore. I feel proud that I am living life without hiding. Even in this difficult time in history, I cannot find a compelling reason to ever leave my new sober life for my past drinking life. Being intertwined with sobriety is like coming home to meet the real me.
And I finally like me.