Sitting on the back seat of a bus, somewhere in Sri Lanka, waiting for the rest of the passengers to return from the off-license and it made me think what has kept me sober all this time?
It is Christmas time which promotes excessive drinking to either celebrate one’s life or block it out, either way, it is overlooked. Christmas was a gift to me as an active alcoholic. I could pass off excess as festivities and get lost in the crowds for a few weeks. In January, the crowds went back to living and I would carry on, alone.
It would be easy to focus on the two weeks of inclusivity at Christmas and pretend that was a reflection of life. It would be easy to fall into the dream and let the romanticised memory sweep me off my feet but it cannot. The memory of me drunk, crying and being lonely and lost still hangs in my mind. It is the reminder of the potential outcome for any urges to test my resolve with controlled drinking. I can’t I tried.
So fear keeps me sober. Fear kept me, prisoner, for a long time. Irrational fears that would hold me back and stop me from quitting drinking; “What will people say?”, “What will people think?” “How will I do XYZ?” All nonsense. The fear I have around alcohol is very real but very rational.
I have worked so hard to get to where I am and I no longer see the benefits of alcohol. Before, I NEEDED it. Now I don’t need it. I actually think that the negatives outway the positives. The only positive I can think of is that it would make me feel included in social settings with heavy drinkers. Social drinkers don’t give a fuck what I am drinking.
Would I throw away everything I have worked for to gain the respect of people whose respect I no longer need? Of course not.
Even in the direst of situations, a little voice somewhere in the recesses of my mind suggests that a drink would smooth it over but I know that to be false. It is just escapism. I learned that suffering is part of life and learning to accept that is a gift. Avoiding suffering is desirable but also detrimental.
“A man who conquers himself is greater than one who conquers a thousand men in battle”Buddha
There is a saying that goes “You won’t find the answers to your problems in the bottom of a glass!” I did. My problem was in the glass.
When I stopped drinking many of my problems vanished and many more become manageable. Some were daunting but sobriety gave me the strength I never knew I had and the rest is history. I have had some of the best times in life, in sobriety. It is the greatest gift I ever gave myself and something so beautiful cannot be given away frivolously.
At the back of the bus, I wait patiently. I am not missing out. I have a life beyond my wildest dreams and it is simply because I accept that I have no self-control. I don’t trust myself with alcohol but that doesn’t matter because I love the person I am without it.
This is my fifth sober Christmas. They get easier.