When I first accepted that I couldn’t drink any longer, at least without running the risk of - well, let’s have a think: getting hit by a bus, breaking my neck falling down the stairs, having a rubbish life, developing a nasty disease, any of the other alcohol-related catastrophes that were almost certainly heading my way – I didn’t exactly relish the thought of being a NON-DRINKER. I had this type of person down as a boring square, a bit if a wuss, someone who I didn’t understand in any shape or form. I didn’t want the booze-related carnage but neither did I fancy being SOBER.
Recently I was contemplating the whole disease/recovery angle of alcohol dependency, as well as how one establishes sobriety on a permanent basis, and I found myself pondering why I had never especially liked such words as ‘disease’ and ‘addict’. I don’t regard myself as having a ‘disease’ (although I do consider myself to be someone with a proclivity towards heavy and binge drinking) and I don’t consider that I am ‘in recovery’. Rather, I am well and happy, and a person who chooses to not drink alcohol.
These may just be semantics but to me they make/made all the difference, particularly when I was first weighing up my new life as a non-drinker. I wanted to feel as though I had made a DECISION to stop drinking, that this had been a choice and not that I was flawed and ill and potentially at risk of relapsing at any point.
I was not physically addicted to alcohol and this may be where the difference lies, but I still had to extract myself from over two decades of habitual binge drinking, and simultaneously learn to accept that I would live the rest of my life in sobriety.
This was a gradual switch-flicking process that began with me feeling like a moody teenager who’d had her phone confiscated by a teacher, to being semi-ok with not drinking, to being a fully-fledged Soberista who absolutely LOVES not drinking alcohol.
When people ask me if ‘it’s hard’ to not drink, I honestly wonder what goes on in their heads – hard? To not wake up feeling like crap every day? Hard? Not doing stupid things I regret all the time? Hard? Leading an unfulfilled life with the risk of illness and disease looming ever closer? No – it’s simple.
Yes it was hard in the early days to adjust to not turning to booze every time I felt the whiff of emotion, but now that I have all that nailed, it’s lovely. My life is so good as a non-drinker; I wouldn’t touch the stuff for a million pounds – even if I could ‘moderate’ my intake, something that holds no appeal whatsoever.
At the start of your sober journey you are often feeling small, broken and useless, and adding to this by sticking negative labels all over yourself is probably not helpful to most people. When you flip it all on its head and tell yourself that you are making a CHOICE to not drink, that you are now a SOBERISTA, and that you are PROUD of your decision to not drink, it all becomes a lot more appealing. And when something is appealing, it becomes easier to commit to it long-term. Self-esteem is built on the foundations of self-belief, believing in a better future and believing this is something that YOU deserve. Start the journey off on the right foot by focusing on what you are turning into (a Soberista) and not where you are departing from (miserable booze-soaked life).
And good luck with it all – Lucy xx