monkey off my back

One guy's experiences as he quits drinking

Day 23: Learning from experience?


This is my third experience ‘quitting’ for a substantial time. The first time lasted over a year and the second lasted 3 months. Quitting is half the job – my biggest challenge is maintaining.

After some initial hard work with quitting I seem to travel along quite happily. I throw myself into other personal challenges to focus on positive things and to replace my drinking routines.

Then I’ve abruptly fallen off the wagon with some of these traps:

  • Success breeds complacency – I start to take sobriety for granted and forget how much of a problem that drinking was. I remember events but I forget the associated feelings like anxiety, shame, fear, powerlessness, exhaustion, sleep deprivation, frustration, disappointment, and physical pain or discomfort. The negative motivations fade away and lose power.
  • I’ve earned this – So I’m coasting along feeling happy and in control. I’ve been really disciplined to reach my other goals (running a marathon, losing weight etc). Then I reach goal and think ‘well now what?’. I feel so in control that I lose my momentum which then leads to…
  • Just this once – I’m not giving up on quitting but <<insert special event>> is happening and I’ve been doing so well, I feel in control, and I just want to relax a bit and join in with everyone else… so it’s OK to drink just this once. (that’s what I tell myself)

Then I have fun and don’t drink too much so I’m left with a false sense of control. Then another special event happens 2-3 weeks later… and then another special event and before I know it – I’m celebrating Wednesday evening with vodka.

There’s also an elephant in the room which I’m just not willing to address (yet). I’ve never told my partner and friends why I go through periods of not drinking. I hide behind a smokescreen of “it’s for health and cancer reasons” and “I’m training for a marathon”. Everyone’s really supportive – but then when I begin to waver they don’t realise what’s at stake.

One day I might have to do something about this one. I know that my partner and friends would be supportive after some initial awkwardness. So what stops me? It’s probably ego, pride, embarrassment, and the stigma of being defined and getting a label. Maybe I could let go of that shit too.

2 thoughts on “Day 23: Learning from experience?

  1. What I think I found with drinking is that the lying about it, or the ‘not telling’ killed my soul. Not sure yet if this is denial of all the other ways I killed my soul, but currently the focus is on the ‘not telling’. However, I only started to speak when I thought I could get through peoples reaction, at that moment and in the future, without returning to drinking. Secrecy also had a function for me in being able to be vulnerable within my own secret and not have to ‘prepare for’ (imagined?) attack. So yeah, I took it baby steps. My family (haha, 2 members… :-)) and all my friends except two now know. They have all been supportive(like). It is a lot to handle for others too. I always tell them that their drinking does not bother me, that I do not have a problem with not drinking but that I WILL says so if things are going wrong internally and that this might mean I leave a party earlier. A lot of people don’t dare to ask these things but do want to be helpful. 🙂 All in all I think, doing this, at MY time has helped me in sobriety. Connection and sharing is good. Better than not connecting and ‘lying’. But, as I said: baby steps and when I could deal only. 🙂
    Congrats on your day 23 :-). I am happy that I quit, I am happy that you quit too. 🙂
    xx, Feeling

  2. Telling people the truth is horrible, but never as bad as you imagine. It’s been my security against drinking again in some ways, because I know my boyfriend and friends would tear the drink out of my hands..

    And as feelingmy said above, take small steps to doing it 🙂

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