I have come to think of my journey to sobriety as a cycle. It is a terrible cycle. For a very long time, drinking moderately was well within reach. A little buzz, and I was fine. No big deal. Every once in a while, I would “go too hard” or “let the monster out,” as I called her – and I would need to stop, step back and re-evaluate how much I was drinking. There would be a period of abstinence, then a reintroduction of alcohol, where eventually the cycle would repeat itself over and over… For more than 25 fucking years. Sometimes I was able to go very long periods of time in the “moderation” phase of this cycle. But eventually, it always came back to regret.
Over the past year or so, the moderate phase has become shorter, the excessive phase to become longer and more frequent, the regret has converted to capitalized “REGRET,” and the abstinence phase has become difficult to maintain.
From reading about this and researching ways to address this in myself and try to beat this cycle, I realize that failure is yes, indeed a component of long-term success. It is required for long term success. The success stories of “I quit ‘x’ forever and never looked back” are beautiful and inspiring, but I would guess it was not the “first attempt,” but the final, successful one. I do not try to diminish or take away from anyone’s success. I am grateful to have literature and other’s blogs to read to support me in this journey. Your success inspires me that I can also succeed. Fully. Completely. Permanently.
I was so hopeful when I started this blog that sobriety would come easier with accountability. But I still live with and inside my own head. The demons that created this problem are still there. I have not yet exorcised them. That being said, blogging has been a wonderful experience and I am so very grateful for this medium and being able to share my struggle/feelings/victories in an anonymous way. However, this isn’t the “magic bullet.” I suspect there is no magic bullet. But two steps forward and one step back is still one step forward. It is a painfully slow journey. I applaud those that have conquered it on the first try. And I do realize that doing this in the middle of a divorce, a pandemic, and isolation is probably not the most conducive pathway to quick success. But it is the perfect time to do exactly this.
With that said, I persist. I keep walking those two steps forward, knocking my own self down, then getting back up to fight another day. I think every time we get back up, we get a little stronger than we were the last time we chose to. I think each failure shows us more about ourselves. Each time we refuse to give up and we get back in the game shows us how truly fucking bad ass we are.
Here is how I want my cycle to look. If I remove excess, I remove regret. Removing moderation will remove excess. Imagine what I can fill that space with! (I do all the time). I think I try to take on the old “foe” over and over again, just to prove (if only to myself) that I never really had a problem. It never had control over me, and it isn’t stronger than I am. That is pride talking.
I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Currently, this is an objective truth. In the past, I have been able to drink in moderation. However, for whatever reason (stress, fear, isolation, boredom), this is no longer possible for me. That is also objective truth. Even if I can drink moderately for a short time – that time is getting shorter and shorter. The excess period is getting longer and longer. The past year, and extra 20 lb, the change in my healthy lifestyle, and more-hangovers-than-I-care-to-admit have shown me that I cannot, currently, moderately drink. Maybe, I wont ever be able to again.
I am not perfect. This is not a fairy-tale story of how easy sobriety is. When you have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, sometimes it just fucking sucks.
But there is also beauty. And success. And hope. I haven’t given up on me yet. If you’re struggling, dont give up on yourself either. We are so worth the effort.
Stay healthy. Stay sober. Much love, friends.