The beautiful thing about drinking a lot of alcohol is that it gives you the illusion that you are temporarily removed you from all the responsibilities in your life that are weighing you down. You can be blissfully unaware that your life is falling apart around you. The downside is that when you are done drinking the problems you started with still exist, are still not handled (but are delayed), and may seem much bigger with the raging hangover you currently have. You may also have created some extra problems while being drunk, just for fun. Now you have to deal with your regular life and challenges, plus any problems you created during your drunk-capades, all while dealing with sour stomach, headache and cotton mouth caused by dehydration, exhaustion, and brain fog. When I put it like that it sounds terrible… Why would anyone drink too much? (read: at all).
The downside to being sober is that you realize whatever shit you thought you had together, was most definitely and profoundly not together – despite any facade you were able to erect to convince yourself and others to the contrary. From what I have read (and what I desperately hope), the upside to being sober long term is that you are able to address life’s challenges with more focus, clarity, energy, and determination.
The reasons I wanted to quit over the years have been varied. I have made an ass of myself more than once as a party or work function (that latter was only once – you get called “Otis” for a year at work after the Christmas party and you learn quickly to not even allow yourself to drink at work functions). I have lashed out in alcohol induced anger at people that love me. I have blacked out more times that I care to admit, having said or done things that came directly from my snake-brain and had little to do with higher function thinking but that I do not remember at all the next day. I have put myself in VERY dangerous situations that didn’t always work out in my favor. I have woken up so hungover that I have taken off work. (Side note: as I have gotten older, the hangovers are less like feeling bad and more like recovering from a car accident or minor surgery). After my more raucous bouts of drinking I would always ask myself the inevitable question: “Am I An Alcoholic?” This question has plagued my mind for years. Based on some of the details I have just admitted, some would say “yes.” Most of the more heinous events detailed occurred when I was a much younger woman. But not all. Some would say that solely because I ask the question, the answer is “yes,” until they hear how much and how often I currently drink. Then they say “maybe.” But I dislike the “Alcoholic” label/moniker. I reject the static permanence of being categorized for the rest of my life. I consider myself a person that used to drink, but no longer does. I do this because I feel it is best for me.
The reason I wanted to quit this time is because my ratio of avoidance distractions has changed in the past 6-8 months. I knew I was avoiding some big-ticket items in my life in favor of focusing on more pleasant things (working out, eating clean, working on projects at home, cleaning, cooking, hanging out with friends, dating, and yes, drinking wine). What I noticed is that the ratio of time that these activities were taking was starting to shift. I worked out less, worked on my house less, ate “dirtier,” dated more, hung out with friends more, drank a lot more and more often. What made me really take notice was when I looked around my house one day and saw it had become much less tidy than I was accustomed to, or comfortable with. My bed was unmade, my clothes were piled on the floor and on the dresser, my laundry was way behind. My floors were unswept. I had dirty dishes in the sink. My house was showing the neglect that I was showing my life in general. The big items were still being avoided, but the good-habits had been slowly removed in place of the bad. Now even my housekeeping had started to fail. My house had become a physical representation of my life. Somewhat put together on the surface, but just barely. It was time for change.
With 5 days behind me, I have addressed some of the minor details that needed to be addressed (the house is clean, for a start). I feel energized and have started to address some of the big-ticket items. There is so much to do that still lies ahead of me. I know that drinking would not help me to accomplish what I need to do.
I am currently listening to Take Control of Your life by Mel Robbins. These are recordings of live sessions with clients with commentary after every session. I highly recommend. This is not a book about alcoholism. It is about fear and how our fear and coping mechanisms to fear shape everything we do. I find a lot of what she is saying to be applicable to my current situation. So, although it is not about alcohol cessation, if you feel your life is out of control, I encourage you to listen, as it may help.