I feel like I’ve been stopped drinking for a really long time, but in actuality it’s only been just over three months. In what my brain recalls as “the early days”, and even more in the run up to my final stop – all those false starts and failed attempts – I used to read a lot of other people’s sober blogs.
There seems to be a new-wave of people giving up alcohol using online communities as support as opposed to more traditional routes – especially those who eschew the labels that AA might force on them, or are functioning “well enough” (though not necessarily coping) in their lives. I even joined up to Soberistas for a few months as it was highly recommended by a number of the blogs I read. I actually found it to be yet another place to feel out of place in terms of the intrusive chat window and interacting with the actual community. But as another resource filled with different people’s stories, it did give me some help.
One of the things I found at Soberistas was something I was missing from the books I was reading and the established blogs like A Hangover Free Life and Mrs. D is Going Without (which also has a book associated with it that I really enjoyed and found helpful). But all those blogs and books had one thing in common: they were success stories. The way they were presented: Person has problem, Stories of varying degrees of trouble are told, Person recognises problem, Person fixes problem, It is difficult, but they succeed in “fixing” problem, Person is happily living without alcohol.
Great for them! But, they all seemed to just decide to do it and then succeed. I “decided” to stop drinking alcohol about 2 years before I actually stopped. I guess this blog is as “bad” as all the rest of them because (so far, but I can’t see it changing) I’ve successfully stopped. I didn’t document all of those false starts, all those joyous weeks where I was convinced that I was fixed, then reconvinced that it wasn’t really a problem anyway, or something bad happened, or some celebration came up, and I just really hadn’t decided to stop drinking under those circumstances.
It’s different for me now, I don’t really have any space in my brain or heart for exceptions. I don’t believe that there is anything positive that alcohol adds to my life anymore. I don’t believe I will ever drink again. Sure, a small voice still pops up that says “what, never?”. But yeah, never. Why would I? What would I gain? Here’s where my old inability to stop at one drink actually benefits me in a weird way. I don’t really want to be a moderate drinker. And I definitely don’t want to be a heavy drinker. So I just won’t be a drinker.
Anyway, as I was saying, reading Soberistas I finally came across blogs and stories of other people who were going through the same circular motions that I was, with false starts and Day One revisited over and over again. At the time I really needed that, because I needed the hope that a person could not get it right the first time, but still pick themselves up in the future and eventually, at some point out there in the future, they would get there.
The success stories were just too intimidating for me, because I didn’t recognise myself in them.
Last night I started thinking about my hundred days and how I hadn’t really thought too much further than just getting here in terms of milestones, and I don’t really have a next milestone in my mind, so I visited Mrs D’s blog, because she has a nice breakdown of her month-by-month journey. And I realised how early it still is in the whole journey. I also checked in with her blog-roll of other people’s blogs and I came across stories from other people at the beginning of the cycle; titles of Day One Again Again Again and variations on that theme, and I got a little scared.
There were all those stories that I had hunted for in the early days, except now I was noticing that people had months of sobriety under their belts and just started drinking again, for no reason at all.
It felt a bit scary to me. Will I suddenly change from this quiet security that I have – that I’ve had even for the last three+ months – that certainty deep in my soul that this is the right path for me? Look, I don’t think so. And I guess I don’t really see the point in living a life of constant vigilance – at least not in an anxious sort of way.
Ultimately I have to live my life and trust myself – not that anyone else forced my old negative coping mechanisms onto me, not alcohol use, not food misuse, not cutting, not any of those old extinguishers of emotion – but to trust that true and aware core self that I know is in there. That person knows with calm and quiet certitude where to find the right path, even in the darkest or overwhelmingly disconcerting brightest moments.
I don’t believe I’m going anywhere, so I’ll just keep excavating and bringing that person more and more to the surface.