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With over 3.5 years of alcohol sobriety, I believe I am getting the hang of navigating the ups and downs of life without alcohol. Overall, I have been lucky. I’ve been able to navigate holidays, several birthdays, cookouts, and a few really stressful situations (and now a pandemic!) without reaching for a drink.
Most days were fine, and I actually found within the first year of my sobriety, that it wasn’t the stressful situations that took discipline.
It was the fun memories of drinking…remembering the moments when a glass of rum and coke seemed to physically melt away any stress (or so I thought), times spent laughing and drinking away the holidays with family, enjoying a rum punch on the beach while roasting away in the sun, or spring time day drinking outside….THOSE fun memories seem to sneak up on me, and that awful little voice in my head would whisper:
“if you have just one, you will be fine!”
or, “you can handle yourself, you know better now!”
When these feelings start to creep into my conscience, I remind myself of one thing:
Once I started drinking, I wasn’t able to control the amount I would drink.
Mixed with a high tolerance for alcohol that only compounded itself over the years, one drink, for me, would never, ever be enough.
I love the following saying (I actually just learned it’s a song!) as it fits me perfectly:
“One drink is one too many, and a thousand drinks is never enough.”
Too many times, before I began my sobriety, I would fool myself into thinking that I would just have one drink, and with that, the slippery slope into a drunken stupor would follow, with one drink turning into five, or worse.
And we aren’t talking occasional binges here. This was every. single. night. One drink would never ‘cure the ail’ so to speak. And I would just keep drinking, searching desperately for something at the bottom of a bottle that doesn’t exist (oh wait….numbness and unconciousness can definitely be found at the bottom of a bottle!!)
So I simply remind myself that I had a hard time stopping my alcohol consumption once I would start, and that’s a pretty dangerous game to play, given the fact that alcohol is a carcinogen, toxin, and if consumed enough, a poison. Yikes!
Besides…waking up hungover, headaches, throwing up, having the spins, blacking out for certain portions of the night, becoming an angry drunk because of unresolved deep shit, not being able to carry on normal intellectual conversations, paranoia, depression, anxiety, and not being present for my family….all of those side effects that happen during and after drinking, just aren’t worth it for me.
And let’s not forget the random 3AM wakings full of shame, guilt and regret….staring at the spinning ceiling, and wondering why I gave into the alcohol monster, yet again.
So realizing that I can’t control the amount I drink once I start, and being okay with that, and finding solace in that rather than running from it, and most importantly realizing that I am stronger for accepting this fact about myself has been really empowering for me as I live my life free from alcohol.
P.S. If you need help beginning your sobriety journey or are finding it hard to stay the course, I found this book by Annie Grace helped me immensely. I read this book several times at the start of my sobriety journey to help me break the chains that alcohol had on my life.