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One of the biggest fears I had when I knew I needed to get sober from alcohol was the thought that my life would suddenly turn boring.
I feared I would turn into this lifeless shell of my former self, just barely existing, moving through the motions of living just to claim sobriety.
I feared I would move from being chained to alcohol to being chained to sobriety.
This same fear kept me addicted to alcohol for many years. Alcohol had become a crutch and part of my identity, and I was the epitome of a high-functioning alcoholic. Who would I become if I could no longer use alcohol to cope with life?
This fear kept me stuck in the endless loop of mindlessly moving through my daily duties (kids, home, and work) only to finally be able to get drunk, pass out, and repeat again the next day. This went on it seems, forever.
But when I finally came to the realization that alcohol truly is a toxic, crappy substance, I asked myself this:
Why was I still okay with drugging myself daily with a carcinogen, despite my generally health-focused outlook on life?
I literally worked out everyday, attempted to meditate (most days), was very mindful of what and how I ate, and went to therapy…
…only to drink my daily calories in the form of rum and wine.
I’ve taught Pilates to many folks over the years in order to help them not only strengthen their core but to also find their zen…
…but I still found it more than okay to self-medicate with lots of alcohol.
I finally admitted that I had an addiction to alcohol and that it had to go.
Ask yourself…what other fears do you struggle with that is keeping you from getting sober?
These were a few of many thoughts I had that kept me stuck in the cycle of alcohol addiction for many years.
I Just Can’t Do It. I Can’t Give Up Alcohol.
This fear is heavy. One one hand, we are admitting we can’t give up alcohol and start to wonder whether this realization makes us an alcoholic?
Maybe, maybe not.
Either way, there is an unhealthy connection to alcohol, and something needs to change. If you find yourself claiming beyond a reasonable doubt that you can’t give it up, I challenge you to question that fear.
Are you concerned about being the only sober person during holiday dinners? Are you dreading attending your cousin’s wedding and not getting sloppy drunk?
I have navigated a few social events over my last 4 years of sobriety, and I can tell you it really isn’t bad at all. (And this is coming from an extreme introvert who would rather stay home every single night than socialize!)
I still have tons of fun with my family at holiday dinners, and nobody acts weird (or even cares really!) that I’m not drinking my face off with them. We simply enjoy reconnecting and spending time with each other.
I’ll Miss Drinking Alcohol.
I get it. I used to chase that initial buzz like it was nobody’s business. That wave of relief and calm that would wash over my body with that first shot of alcohol was something I looked forward to nightly, especially with my anxiety.
Alcohol had become that toxic relationship that I knew I needed to get out of, but I didn’t know I would function without it. I thought I would miss it!
I have come to find that there are so many other healthier ways to chill out, relax, celebrate, and de-stress that don’t involve alcohol or waking up hungover.
What About My Friends and Family? How Will They React?
“Those who matter won’t mind and those who mind won’t matter.”
This Dr Seuss quote couldn’t be further from the truth!
I have had several conversations with various family members and close friends about my struggles with alcohol and resulting sobriety, and each time they were super supportive of me.
I have found that when you open up, as opposed to just saying “I’m no longer drinking” and changing the topic, that people are more receptive and supportive.
For example, a few years back, I casually mentioned to my dad that I had stopped drinking. At the time, I was a few months sober. He laughed and said “Yeah, right!” to my admitting I had given up alcohol for good.
His reaction kind of hurt, but I moved on. I didn’t bother taking the time to open up about my struggles as I was put off by his initial reaction, and I wasn’t quite ready to do more talking on the subject.
A few months later, my husband and I attended a friend’s wedding and at this point I was almost one year sober. My parents had to watch our children for the afternoon since it was a kid-free wedding. Upon arriving home from our friend’s wedding, my dad asked if I enjoyed a drink… (Why was this the first question that came to his mind? Instead of asking whether we enjoyed having some kid free adult time? I have no idea.) I replied to his question with a simple “Nope, I’m still sober.”
Finally, fast forward to this past summer, and my sobriety and reasons for not drinking had come up in conversation once again.
I finally had a conversation with both of my parents about my previous drinking problems and why I am now sober. I think they have a clearer understanding that there was a problem that was putting my health and my family’s wellbeing at risk and that something needed to change.
And while this seemed to be a pretty drawn out conversation over the course of a few years, I feel there is now understanding and support from my parents about my decision not to drink.
Outside of this experience, however, my husband, close friends and other family members have been very encouraging from the start, and allowed me to share my story and my struggles in a totally supportive manner, free of judgement. My husband has even stopped drinking too in order to support me!
It felt really empowering to share my story and to let them know I am not just surviving, but thriving in sobriety.
So, if a person matters to you, they will be understanding and be supportive of your decision not to drink.
And if they’re not? Drop them and find some sober friends!
How Will I Deal With Life?
We have been conditioned to believe that alcohol is a necessary way to deal with the stressors of life.
However, it is probably one of the worst possible ways to let loose.
The effects of alcohol on our body, from the moment of our first sip, through processing it to remove it from our body, to the long term effects on our mental and physical health are substantial.
There are a vast number of ways to deal with the many ups and downs of life, from taking up a new hobby or learning a new skill to making or revamping your nightly self-care routine (a nightly eucalyptus and lavendar infused bubble bath? Yes please!)
The secret is to incorporate both short term and long term coping mechanisms into your routine to help keep you sane.
A short term coping mechanism might involve learning a new breathing technique, such as alternate nostril breathing, where as a long term coping mechanism might involve seeing a therapist regularly.
A short term coping mechanism might help you stave off a craving, whereas a long term coping mechanism will help you deal with the root issues of those cravings.
What other thoughts or fears do you have about sobriety? Are you starting to see the pattern that everything you thought about alcohol is a huge lie?
Write about it below and let’s work through it, together!