How Do You Stop Drinking When You Love to Drink ?
I loved to drink. Drinking was a much-anticipated part of my daily routine and had been for decades when I finally decided that I had to stop! Giving up alcohol felt to me like losing a friend. Or rather leaving a toxic lover. I found myself in a cycle of getting to day 3, or 5, or 7 alcohol-free, feeling lost or bored or empty and slipping back into the routine. I would justify a drink or two because...
I didn't drink for a week! I'm cured! I'm not an alcoholic! Only real alcoholics need to go sober...
I knew that I had to cut the umbilical cord because my drinking had become dangerous and unpredictable. Time and time again, I found that no matter how casually my drinking might begin, one glass routinely led to a binge. But I continued to struggle, continued to think that THIS time I could have just one or two and that is what is called denial.
When people find themselves in the predicament that I found myself in, they often go to AA and start sharing their stories in a community of others who are doing the same. The AA routine of story sharing is a great way to break out of denial but AA was not practical or possible for me. So rather than going to AA meetings and telling my story, I wrote my way out of denial in an online community where I still write most days. Writing this post ( among countless others over years), One Glass Won’t Hurt, has helped me remember clearly, even into my seventh sober year, why I cannot drink. Not even one. And why although I may remember loving drinking, I also remember the inevitable consequence of my opening that bottle.
In my early weeks alcohol-free, I had unexpected moments of Bliss, and Hope, and Gratitude, that came from no longer feeling physically and emotionally beaten down by my binge routine, but I also had moments where I felt completely and utterly lost. I felt lonely and afraid.
What would my life be like now?
Would my closest relationships be close without the shared activity of drinking?
Would I always feel a little bit empty and a little bit lost or would that improve with time?
Exiting the roller coaster ride of drink, drunk, regret was dizzying. I didn’t fit in my own skin for a while.
Knowing that you cannot drink is the first step to stop drinking, but it takes a while to learn how to live without a routine that has punctuated every day for years. Even if alcohol were not addictive, cutting booze out of your life would still be daunting when everywhere you look people seem to be happily drinking. People seem to need to drink. Our culture sells wine time and cocktail hour hard.
That’s where community comes in. Whether you attend meetings or post in an online community or both, it is the shared experience of working toward finding a new way, that ends the dizzying blur. Talk about what you’re feeling, what you’re questioning, what you’re observing, as often as you need to. Reach out to others and let them reach back to you. Ask a question, share a resource, rant, and rave, or simply share your doubts and fears or triumphs. It works. Community works.
I began to find in my third and fourth month sober that my life was actually much better without the booze but it took daily work to get there. It took surrendering to knowing that I was different. Surrendering to accepting that others could drink but I cannot. It took surrender and then it took Hope. The hope came from listening to the people in my community who were ahead of me, sharing their experience, reaching back to show me that it could be done and that it was worth it.
If you have found that drinking often leads to painful drunken regret, then you will most likely be happier if you take the booze variable out of the picture
Cut the umbilical cord
File for Divorce
Retire from a long and illustrious drinking career
You Do Not NEED to drink, no one does. think about it…
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We Drink to Be Free
We Drink to Be Wild
To break down the protective barrier
To open our bodies and hearts and minds
To connect with friends
To connect with family
To connect with ourselves
But drinking enslaves us
Those of us who do it with a singular passion
Those of us who become addicted
Slowly bit by bit
Year by year it wears us down
It becomes a ball and chain that we drag behind us
Our voices are dulled by shame and doubt and insecurity
But it doesn’t have to be that way
You can cut that chain
It’s never too late
Your fire may be soft and warm or it may be a raging inferno
but it can only grow if you stop wasting energy
on the drink/drunk/regret routine
Pour enough alcohol on that baby and it’ll flash up in a fury then die quickly
Sober I AM a steady glow
a stable flame
and sometimes a raging inferno of creative energy
but I am NEVER extinguished
Today I will not drink.