In January of 2010, I made a decision to stop drinking. Looking back over the positive events that have transpired since then, and seeing the direction I had previously been heading with my abuse of alcohol, it is clear to me that it was one of the best decisions I ever made for myself.
I am absolutely convinced that, if I had continued down the path I was on with heavy/binge/blackout drinking, there is a very good chance I would either be dead, in jail, or otherwise would have had my life in a shambles. In deciding to quit, I had finally come to a point where I could see very clearly just how destructive the alcohol was to my overall well-being, and to that of the loved ones surrounding me. I realized that, if I wanted positive things in my life, alcohol couldn’t be part of that equation. So I stopped. Like that.
But it wasn’t easy. In fact, it was fucking HARD. But, let me tell you, if you currently struggle with drinking and want to stop – as difficult as it is, and as much as it SUCKS – you can do it.
I remember thinking “how am I going to do this?” when it came to quitting. I just didn’t see any way that I could enjoy life the same way that I did when I was buzzed or drunk. It always seemed like there would forever be a part missing from my life. But I was wrong. What I couldn’t see at the time, what seemed impossible – was the notion of being alcohol-free and comfortable at the same time. This is because the main, fundamental reason I drank was that I wasn’t able to be comfortable in my own skin without booze.
So, when I stopped, even though I cut out the negatives of drinking to excess out of my life (the hangovers, the lack of memory about what happened the night before, etc.) – I still had this idea in my head that life was going to forever be missing an element of enjoyment that I just couldn’t seem to experience while alcohol-free.
I’m telling you, it gets better. The expression “one day at a time” may be cliché, but that’s for a reason. It’s true. Getting off alcohol is hard. It is critical to maintain perspective, though. Tell yourself, each day – “just today, without alcohol.” And stick to that, every day. At times it will seem insurmountable. It’s not. Don’t let yourself think that. When you start thinking that, tell yourself it’s bullshit. Because it is. And here’s the cool part – every day that you don’t drink, every day that you don’t rely on alcohol for a sense of comfort or peace, it gets a tiny bit easier. You might not see it or feel it, but things are always changing. And in time, you will find that it gets easier. And easier.
It was a struggle for years. And in rare moments, sometimes there are echoes of cravings. But the amazing thing that happened a while back is that, while I was reflecting on things – it occurred to me – “wow, I don’t think about alcohol anymore.” As hard as it was to believe that was possible at one time – it had happened. I didn’t need it anymore. I wasn’t lacking for having it out of my life. In fact, it has been quite the opposite. I am able to appreciate and experience things on a much deeper level now. Whereas I once thought I would always resent not being able to drink anymore, now I am grateful for being free of alcohol’s chains. I never thought I would be able to say that.
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