Almost as if applying the emergency brake. As if the driving examiner has slammed her clipboard onto the dashboard of life. Quitting drinking is a jolting change. A jarring experience for some of the lucky ones. The unlucky ones crash before the brakes work.
I expected the world to stop with me. I expected triumph and to lead my old friends into a new life. Unfortunately, just because I stopped doesn’t mean the world stopped too. It was hard at first. I mean realising the majority of people who I spent the majority of time with loved drinking more than they did me was no good for my already low self-esteem. Most of them expected me to fail. Most of them I never speak to anymore. Worrying at first. Lonely sometimes but no transition is easy. Thankfully, the ones who valued our friendship more than drinking stook around. Sobriety just removed hardcore drinkers from my social landscape.
I expected instant rewards. I expected that by removing alcohol from my life it would all be okay. Strangely, I had thought that adding alcohol would make it alright at some time in my past. Removing alcohol didn’t make it alright but it did make it easier… after a while.
The world washed over me. I could have drowned in the troubles I had been avoiding. Sobriety seemed like a really really bad idea. I mean at first, it was like I was stopping the medication that kept me sane. I had to baton down the hatches and ride out the initial storm of my own creation. It was just the chaos of my mind. I stayed away from the pub and places where people drank alcohol. The storm calmed and I realised that alcohol was the medicine that had been keeping me sick.
After any storm, it is time to rebuild whilst I mourned what I had lost. In the chaos I had lost alcohol, it was my best friend but also a terrible influence. We had spent a lot of time together but it was time to move on. It was a toxic relationship. One I couldn’t see how bad until I left.
There is no sobriety insurance. No one will go around and apologise on my behalf. I had to do it myself. I had to build a new life from the ruins of the old.
“Beautiful souls are shaped by ugly experiences.”Matshona Dhliwayo
There is plenty of help available. There are survivors out there who came through what I came through and share their tale to help others out. Their message is clear “it isn’t easy but it is worth it!” I found them when I was ready and they can help but deep down it was me who had to want it to happen. All the support in the world wouldn’t have made me want to put the brakes on my old life and say “enough!” I had to want to change. I was sick to fucking death of being sick to death. I was so sick and tired that I was prepared to risk losing what I had. Purely on the belief that I could build something better. No more bullshit excuses.
One thing I have learned is that the world keeps turning regardless of what you do. Each spin is another day gone and it came to the simple choice; do I want to spend my life hiding and making excuses or do I want to take ownership of my life? Do I want to become someone I am proud of being or do I want to remain as the person I had grown to despise? In the end, I thought it had to be worth a try and it was.
There was no fanfare. No breaking news item stating that I had stopped drinking. The world carried on regardless. My “friends” carried on regardless. I had been drinking myself to death under the belief drinking was integral to my life and also the functioning of the world. I was wrong on both fronts. Nobody gave a fuck. I was free to rebuild.
“Positive Self Talk Isn’t Enough… If You Want To Overcome More Put In The Work.”Wesam Fawzi
Quitting drinking isn’t a race. There isn’t really any training. Day to day living is training and fuck ups still happen but that’s life. People start to worry after so many months they haven’t achieved XYZ because they know someone who stopped drinking and did. People develop at different paces. Some people say “Never again” and then never drink again. Some it takes longer. Some never realise the potential they pissed away.
I found adding pressure to an already tricky experience did nothing but made me fail. My only criteria was not to drink at first and when I felt ready, I began tackling other problems. If it got too much I backed off and when I felt ready, I tried again. A slow process but decades of running aren’t fixed in a weekend. Thankfully, time is no longer my enemy. I no longer rush through life to get to an alcoholic drink. I saunter through life and take in what I had been missing.
The world might be turning but I’m no longer clinging on.