Tomorrow I will have completed 7 months of continuous sobriety.
No-one is more surprised than I am – most people will know me or at least remember me as a woman who liked a drink. A woman who often drank too much. A woman who didn’t know when to stop. I’ve never been an aggressive drunk, or unpleasant to people, but I did get over emotional, weepy, over sharing and rather ‘messy’. Its pretty nice not to be that woman any longer.
I have been reflecting on why I have ( so far) succeeded in staying sober, when I did not the first time I tried. In the end I think it comes back to my own belief in myself. The first time I got sober, I didn’t, in myself believe I could stick to it long term. I convinced myself that a little slip – champagne on a Boxing day with ExP; wine during a weekend away with ExP, would be ok. Those little slips I see now, fed not only the ‘wine witch’, but allowed me to pretend that (in this way) I COULD moderate. No mater that the first sip of champagne on Boxing day made me want to demolish the whole bottle in 5 minutes flat; no mention of the fact that during the ‘weekend away slip’ I drank (alot) on Saturday lunchtime, Saturday night and Sunday lunchtime…. It was lying to myself.
I think it was because I couldn’t face ‘forever’. That familiar anxiety that many heavy drinkers have when faced with stopping drinking ” What ,you mean I cant drink again EVER” … EVER is SUCH a long time… most of this was subconscious , but I am aware of it now.
This time I was much better prepared, emotionally. I knew that the key to my success was NOT indefinite denial, but rather changing my mind set so that I no longer WANTED to drink. In fact, far faster and earlier than I expected I have achieved that goal. I can honestly say that 98% of the time I do not WANT to drink. Its not denying myself something really want, its positively choosing to avoid imbibing a substance that I know will make me ill, will set me back and will stop my progress towards a better life.
The other thing I did different this time; I prioritised my sobriety. I did not put myself in positions where I knew it would be very difficult for me not to drink. I accepted that I often feel socially awkward and drink to cover that up. So I avoided situations in which that might occur. I turned down a lot of invitations, and others I drove and planned an escape route. I left several social events early. I told people before I arrived ” Oh Im not drinking right now” usually with some short term excuse, but I set up peoples expectations – especially those who were used to drinking with me.
I blogged, read, invested in sober thinking. I tried to offer support to others earlier on in the same journey, sharing what small insights I had gained. I took up yoga, tried to slow the pace of my life a little (I actually failed at that completely) and I found other things I liked to drink. I didn’t deny myself anything else, sugar / carbs/ chocolate/ice cream.
Its only in the last 2 months I have lost any weight – and I’m now a stone down ( thats 14 lbs or 6.4kg) I look a LOT better for it….
I’m reading a lot of blogs of folks who are struggling; struggling to start the journey, struggling to get more than a few days continuous sobriety, trying again to moderate. I don’t believe I have more will power than these people, I don’t believe I wanted it more. I don’t actually believe they are ‘sicker’ than I was… I just think that maybe I knew what would work FOR me (perhaps because I had tried it before) planned, and honestly didn’t care if I upset people by refusing invitations….
And the weekend upset ? well, maybe to be expected. Stupid on his part, It hurt me and its left me vulnerable to gossip at work. but in the big scheme of things… I’m ok.
so please, If you are reading this and know you need to stop drinking; believe me, it CAN be done, and relatively quickly it becomes a positive choice… Try something different, and keep on going – it is SO worth it