Excuses or choices? You choose.
I knew that I had a drug problem from a young age, but was never able to fully identify as alcohol being problematic in my life since it was never my “drug of choice.”
Over time, I have built up years of continuous sobriety (10 years-plus) and later thought, “I have this under control,” a familiar thought to me—convincing myself that since I never really liked alcohol that much, I could choose consciously to become an occasional drinker (otherwise known as a “relapse,” especially if you are in a program or recovery).
I classified my “relapse” as a science experiment to see if alcohol was truly problematic in my life.
During this time, there was an element of the rules changing, which is quite normal for people who are vulnerable or suffer from substance abuse.
As I changed, so did my rules—how often, the type of alcohol, how much could I safely handle, and under what circumstances would I drink (only on special occasions, weddings, vacations, cottage weekends, once every five years)—until I could feel myself slip into the dangerous grey areas of drinking. It was bloody exhausting! You may be able to relate to what I am saying, and yet I waited for the jury to come out to decide whether this was something I could truly handle.
The truth is that it starts so damn slowly, like a train coming out of the station, quickly building speed and momentum. Sometimes I felt like a completely respectable drinker with a glass of wine or two, just like the normal people. Yet, other times, I might have been able to remember what I did the night before, or fortunate enough to not end up hugging the toilet bowl. But there were times when it didn’t go as well as I hoped, and was shocked into reality with a bolt of anxiety that would wake me at 3 a.m. filled with dread, remorse, guilt, and fear.
I’d negotiate with the Divine to get me through this one night, swearing that it would never happen again, only to find myself back in the cycle shortly afterward.
What I didn’t realize, because it took time to put all the pieces together, was that no matter how I defined my relationship to alcohol, it had become complicated and messy—similar to a relationship that has run its course. You find it almost impossible to walk away, yet you are no longer happy in the relationship. Alcohol took me to that place, quickly ramping up significant obsessive thinking and the noise in my head.
It really didn’t matter whether or not my drinking was problematic, or even normal; alcohol took more from me than it ever gave me, making me feel so poorly about myself. Plagued with guilt and shame, physically ill, emotionally distraught, and feeling more depressed and anxious than before I started.
It eventually became easier to do a cost-benefit analysis on my drinking and recognize that it was costing me more than I would ever gain.
If you find yourself vaguely relating to what I am saying, it is more than likely that you are deeper into your relationship with alcohol than you think. Alcohol may even have a hold on you, and the thought of giving it up or going without might cause some dis-ease in you!
If you look at giving up alcohol as a major loss in your life—the absence of fun, being boring—then you’re right, it will have no appeal. But, if you look at entering sobriety, even if it’s temporary or for 30 days, you may find you will gain so much more and be happier than you have ever imagined. Maybe there’s even a delicious curiosity as to what else is there waiting for you.
For me, I love to feel good, and unless I create a life that is meaningful with a lifestyle that allows me to feel naturally high, I know that I will look for unhealthy ways to find stimulation in my life.
Today, I live a life that is blessed beyond what I could have imagined (news for another day) and there is simply no appeal to return to ways that steal my peace, grace, and bliss.
Do you care to join me?
Get your free copy of my emotional tool kit here.