Monday: (Adamant) Today is the day. I am going to quit drinking forever. I can’t take this.
Tuesday (Holding Strong): I’m doing this. I have to do this. I’m strong. I can do anything I put my mind to.
Wednesday: (Holding) I’m good. I’m good. There is no way I’m drinking tonight.
Thursday: (Negotiating) Forever…man…that’s a long time. I know I said forever, but I’m not sure if I have to be a “forever” girl. Does it have to be that black and white? I wasn’t that bad, was I?
Friday: (Bargaining) Maybe I could have one and try that again. Just one.
Saturday: (False Sense of Success) I did pretty good last night, proud of myself! I had two with the girls! See, what was I thinking, silly! I can do this. This time is different. I really want to change. Just two tonight.
Sunday: (Failure) I hate myself. I’m an idiot. I have no self-control. I’m really just a fraud. If anyone knew the real me, they would be disgusted. Where is my phone? I’m a sh*tty Mom.
Monday: (Back on the hamster wheel for another ride) Today is the day. I am going to quit drinking forever. I can’t take this.
This was me. Over and over again.
The idea of never, ever drinking alcohol again made me sick to my stomach because the thought was so unreal to me. I literally couldn’t fathom it for more than about 48 hours. Once it started getting real, I crumbled.
Have you ever caught yourself thinking about outer space, maybe right before you go to sleep? The exciting yet scary thought that there could be other planets with life on them? The phenomenon that space is never-ending, and we just don’t know what is out there that gives you an almost sick feeling because it’s so hard to process? That is the exact same feeling I get when I ponder never, ever drinking again. It is a breathless, paralyzing, fear-based response—forever.
What does forever even feel like?
When I finally quit drinking alcohol, I did something entirely different than the 348 times I tried to quit before. I didn’t think about forever.
The fact is, I don’t know if I will ever drink alcohol again. I don’t know about next weekend at the beach. I don’t know about the next Kenny Chesney concert I get to attend. I don’t know about the next dinner party at a friend’s house. I don’t know about a champagne toast at my son’s wedding.
All I know is that, for today, I have chosen not to drink. I woke up this morning and committed, not to forever, but for today and today only. Today is something I can process. Today is something I can breathe through and feel confident about. Today. I can handle today.
This is a tried-and-true AA technique, and it works.
Before I knew it, one day turned into three days, then one whole week. One week turned into two months, six months, and then a year. 562, I still wake up and commit to the day. If “trend is your friend,” then chances are good tomorrow might be the same, but I will wake up and have that choice to make all over again. I will think about tomorrow, tomorrow.
It gets easier the longer you practice it. It has become almost second nature because out of all the days I have chosen not to drink, I have never once regretted it, not once. That is something I can depend on.
If you find yourself in this same situation, I advise you to stop thinking about outer space. Go easy on yourself and take it one day at a time.