The other day a friend asked how the not drinking thing was going. I said it was ok, I am still doing it, have no plans to drink at all for the foreseeable future etc, etc. Then she said, oh you probably find it really easy now as you’ve had a few sober stints, you probably don’t even notice it this time round.
Talk about a massive understatement!!
I tried to explain a little, saying that describing it as easy would be a bit flippant! I said that even though it’s my choice to live without booze there are many situations where I feel out of place, make other people feel uneasy about their drinking and that socially it brings it challenges. I said that even when you break the habit of the physical drinking, like missing the lovely taste of a cold white wine on a summer’s evening or a rioja with cheese after dinner, you are still left with the huge craving for “life’s little off switch”. Because living without the crutch that is alcohol requires a lots of new navigating firstly around old situations and later through unknown, usually awkward territory.
It’s hard to get across the point to someone else especially when you are not being totally honest with where you are coming from. In fact, it’s hard even when you are being frank. I have always been totally honest with my husband about why I am stopping and the extent to which I feel I have a problem. However, when I have tried to explain to him why I am putting so much work into getting and staying sober, he really struggles to get it.
There is no easy way to reconcile the drinker to the recovery path required. The recovery in my case seems to be too big to fit the problem. I don’t believe this to be true. But that is how it looks on the outside. It is necessary for me to put everything into staying sober because only I know where my drinking was coming from and where it was headed. Only I know, how it frightened me more than anything has ever done, how it felt bigger than me, the control it had of my mind, the self imposed prison it had become, the slave I was to it.
This recovery stuff takes time, energy, resolve and huge effort sometimes. The cravings when they come are arduous and intense, they require enormous strength both physically and mentally. The tweaks to my old life are uncomfortable. Some situations that used to be fun are awkward. Sometimes I don’t feel like me anymore…
But all of this, every huge part of it, far outweighs, more than I can write here, more than can be explained, ever, the feeling that being sober gives me. I LOVE IT! It makes me feel so happy and when I feel good I feel friggin’ great! The highs are far higher. There are still lows but there are nowhere near the shit I used to feel when I was drinking. So, being in recovery might be a bit obsessive and staying sober might be a whole lot challenging some days and just a bit boring others. But when you have been where I have, you would choose this feeling every time. Because it’s worth it, I am worth it.