Why do we want to go back?

i see thoughts of moderation everywhere. The thought that perhaps things will be better now. That a break has somehow fixed the behaviour that got us writing a sober blog in the first place. That by acknowledging our mental health/personal problems/stressful life we have solved the causes of our drinking and can consider moderation.

It makes me sad. Sad because I see so many bloggers who come and go. Who get some sobriety and then go back to drinking. And their voice of hope and peace disappears.

I had these thoughts. Once I resolved my severe depression I wondered if perhaps drinking was solely self medicating. A way to get through the deep lows and to dull that inner voice of anxiety. And perhaps it was.

But the possibility that I would go back to it and feel even a fraction of the self loathing and remorse I had is too scary. 

I am inclined to obsessive compulsive behaviour. When I find a hobby I am all in, until my interest wanes. Or, more normally, my interest moves on and I get excited about something new. So I still enjoy the first hobby, but time doesn’t allow for it any more.

And control. I like control. It takes every ounce of my being to not jump in and take over sometimes. Yo let the kids sort out their arguments. To not try to fix my husbands bad day. 

No. I have made peace with the fact that drinking only took from my life in the end. It was not bringing pleasure. The fun times of Friday night bar hopping are long past. A 40 something bar fly is not a pretty sight. 

I have a deep sense of contentment and it shows. Even my furrowed brow has smoothed. I look younger and so much more relaxed.

Still. Another fear occasionally pops up. That is the fear Of myself. Some days I wish I could just let everything go and be taken care of. To be the one who goes away to treatment. Who is able to take the role of victim. To be weak. The one Who gets help. Not the one who hold things together. Who puts up a good front.

This “hard done by” thinking scares me a bit. Because I know help would come to me if I need it. Because others do support me. Because I am not doing things alone. 

Because being strong, or at least willing, is something I take pride in. 

I guess I am scared of having personal pride. Of my own success with sobriety. But perhaps that is necessary, as it is a precious thing that I can’t take for granted. I’m not sure about this. 

So my best plan is to continue to set myself up for success. Eat regularly, with treats sprinkled in. Sleep well. Support my mental health. Yoga. Be of service to others where I can. Continue my morning routine of thank you thank you thank you. Because my life is beautiful. 

And I am going on a recovery retreat next week. Not a training course. Not a spa. A place to let myself rest and just be. I think I need it. 

Stillness and peace


41 thoughts on “Why do we want to go back?

  1. I see the moderation message out there too. and i too miss those voices when they go silent. sometimes the thought of “moderation” appeals to me, but then i remember how miserable (and so unsuccessful) it was to try and moderate.

    i am too scared of the past and too hopeful for the future to try drinking again, so I continue to commit to a year of sobriety. i love reading the stories of women who worked an entire year of soberness and then were able to see the progress that came from that work. as they say … “i want what you have.”

    Thanks for the great post.

    1. It’s always interesting to look at things I thought required drinking and realize I actually enjoy them more.

      And hot yoga on a Sunday morning would have probably killed me with a hangover. I smile at that thought every week.

  2. Good for you. I am having trouble with the romanticization of alcohol for sure. I can have all the positive affirmations and healthy actions in the world all day long and then someone says “you really should visit X winery, it’s so close” and I feel sunk. This really resonated with me: But the possibility that I would go back to it and feel even a fraction of the self loathing and remorse I had is too scary.

    I’m feeling pretty low on the ‘ol self esteem and everything seems to big to survive, I’m panicky, unsure, apologetic for myself, my own existence. That stuff I’d like to fix.

  3. I haven’t seen the moderation messages in the blogs. When I first started blogging, my goal was to be the first blog about successful moderating, but it didn’t end up that way. Instead, my year long involvement with Moderation Management showed me that I could not moderate. More importantly, it re-introduced me to days in which alcohol was not a part. It took away my fear of the unknown and allowed me to embrace the decision to permanently abstain from drinking.

    I was one of those people that had no business trying moderation, but it didn’t make a difference, I had to answer the question of whether I could moderate or not. If people have left the realm of not drinking to go back and try again, it means that they still have that question in their mind They will never find the solace that not drinking brings, if that doubt is nettling them.

    Some of them will be back. They will quickly recall the amount of time and heart that goes into trying to control their drinking, Now that they’ve had a taste of the freedom of not drinking, they will miss it. Some may actually learn to moderate successfully ( I have witnessed success stories). And some will do neither, they will not be able to moderate and they will not be able to make it back. I’ve been witness to too many of these stories.

    That is what keeps me from drinking again.

    1. It is only the thought of moderating, or drinking again after a break, that I refer to.
      Not anyone actually blogging about successful moderation.
      The few who planned to have yet to return with their tales. Or maybe I stopped following them. Sometimes I do that. Although I am perfectly happy with sobriety, sometimes those debates stir up thoughts that I am doing things wrong.

      I’m not sure why. My life is good. I am happy. I am lacking nothing.
      And if I felt I was, I know I wouldn’t find it in a bottle!

  4. Anne, can I just say first that I am so sorry if my last blog post was one of those to which you refer that have caused you distress. it may be that it was not, but just in case.

    as ever I think I am capable of holding two mutually exclusive beliefs in my mind at the same time…. I believe that I have a strong foundation of knowing that moderation cannot work for me, whilst at the same time the thought flies through my mind, like an evil fairy, that I ‘could’ have one glass of wine.

    that ‘could’ is important. it is the fact that it is always feasible for me which is the wind beneath the fairy wings. and it is feasible because I live in a society where alcohol is ever present. I have minimised that to a significant extent, but can never do so completely. and there are days when that is more difficult to bear than others.

    it sounds to me as if your tender heart is bruised by others’ stories you read, or worse, perhaps, by those stories you imagine. my heart aches for them, too.

    perhaps part of the pain I feel is also the fear I feel for myself? there’s a Hip Sobriety post which addresses this, I’ll link it below, I hope that’s ok.

    Holly says that we fear that in others which we most wish to deny in ourselves, and what we see in them is merely a reflection of our own perception and judgment of self.

    and by realising that we can free ourselves from the latter….which sounds pretty great to me, if that is where I am sitting…

    have a marvellous retreat. find your peace again! if you have any left over, send a little my way, hmmhhh? still running a little low round here, but good over all. oh, and forecast likelihood of moderation attempts? zilch 😉 xxx


    1. It wasn’t you. And for
      Those who do have those thoughts, they should definitely still write about them. U.S. Readers need to take what helps and let the rest go. Which can be hard to do!
      Perhaps it just does tug at something in me.
      I will read that post! Thank you for responding!

      1. that’s a relief…. though I absolutely concur that we all need to write our own thoughts out. because for me sometimes that’s the only way to work out what they are!

    2. Omg
      That might be the best advice anyone has ever pointed me to and I must get that book immediately.

      Otherwise I think I have some shit flavoured ice cream in my bowl.

  5. You deserve this retreat Anne. You are always there for everyone else. It’s time for you. For time out. To find your inner peace again.

    I always think that if only everything in my life was perfect I would then be happy. But deep down I know this is not necessarily the case.

    I’m sorry if my thoughts of drinking again have upset you.

    A x

    1. No. They haven’t.
      They just force me to recognize my want to control everyone’s life.
      Perhaps even to go so far as to relapse to show its s bad idea.

      How crazy is that? But I might not have realized that without this.

      My eyes are open er! That’s a big thing.

  6. Hi Anne. Thanks for this post. I have a week to go before my 100 day soberversary. I am struggling with what to do. This post came at a very important time for me.

  7. This really made me think. Not that I was planning relapse, but I am aware that something is coming up for me which I wonder if I had hoped to control by being sober. I worry that my ideas about sobriety might fizzle away to nothing, depending on the outcome. As you say, I think I would like the idea of being weak, of being a victim. And that is dangerous, because I know how mentally out of control I was when I stopped.

    Great idea to go back to the treats, and also to take this time for yourself – I will try to follow your example!

    Love, waking x

  8. its a tricky one. i don’t have the answers. people are generally happier not drinking but still want to return. i think i will be able to understand it someday. anyone thinking of moderating should read about Audrey Kishline, the well-known founder of Moderation Management. Wow its a sad horror tale of failed moderation. Obviously extreme.

  9. Your wanting to “just let everything go and be taken care of” sounds to me as though a new layer of your onion is starting to be peeled away. It’s my belief that at our core we are at rest, at peace, with no need to protect or defend or strive. Your wanting to be taken care of means there is another level of protected, quiet, safe space inside yourself that you haven’t yet accepted or embraced. (Not that on another more regular level it isn’t a great thing to want to be taken care of…! But there’s also this deep personal psychological stage where it pops up too and this sounds like that.) It makes sense to me that accompanying this is an urge or at least the thought of drinking. I have that too (lately, in fact). See if you can get up close to that urge/thought and talk to it and find out what it needs (in the absence of a drink) from you. It probably needs rest and joy or a sense of freedom. What does that look like in real life, in your real life? Part of this journey, for me, is letting the rest, peace, solitude, alcohol-free escape get deeper and deeper and keep shifting shape as I get used to each new step. Sorry this is so long……. thanks for your presence here! Adrian

    1. I actually didn’t mean to say “your XYZ means ABC.” I of course don’t know these things about you 🙂 Throw a couple of perhap’s or maybe’s in there…

    2. Yes. I think putting this into words has helped me realize that there is a part of me that I’m getting close to and in response I’m freaking out.
      That soft spot of self acceptance for myself, however I am. Even if I happen to drink, or be mean or hurt someone.
      The realization that I must love myself, not because of what I have done, or am doing, but just because I deserve love regardless.

      My freaking out involves control. It’s so much easier to tell other people what to do than to just let myself be.

      Thank you! I feel like I am having a deep shift with this.

  10. Hi Anne!
    I hope your retreat is peaceful and lovely!
    I love my “precious gift” as you said!

  11. I think your post put into words how I’m coming to feel about alcohol….lately I’ve had the same idea come to mind…that maybe once I’ve resolved my anger, emotional wounds, etc…that I could be a “social drinker”. And I thought, “maybe?” “Maybe not?”. But do I want to go back there? Did drinking ever really add any value for me? Ever? No. It only took from me, closed my world and made it smaller, and darker. What if I lose all this that I’ve gained? For what? I don’t want to go back there. I really don’t.
    Thanks for your timely post…and enjoy your vacation/retreat!

    1. I think this is one to really ponder. I know alcohol made my other problems worse. But it itself was a problem too.
      I think mindfulness if vital. And I cannot be mindful and drunk.
      So sober wins.

  12. Great post, Anne. Thank you for writing about these tough thoughts. I am having them, too, and wish I wasn’t. Reading about them – and sometimes writing about the m-word myself, is so frustrating. I feel jealous (and am feeling jealousy) towards those who can moderate. I just don’t know how that beast works, nor should I ever even consider it. I know better. Sobriety is an amazing gift and I Know it is an amazing gift, but I can’t help but question it from time to time (Hello, HumanNature), and that is when frustration creeps in for me. -HM.

    1. Tommy rosens book Recovery 2.0 really helped me realize that I actually love my life sober. I’m going to read it again. Because I know sober is way better than spending Sunday afternoons passed out on the couch. Could I have ever thought that was fun?

  13. Hello Anne,
    Thank you for walking this road before me, helping me with your wisdom and having the guts and conviction to put up your real photo. I am not sure I am there yet but I do hope I will be in due time.
    xx, Feeling

      1. 🙂

        Fort Murray Wiki:
        Temperatures average −18.8 °C (−1.8 °F) in winter, with the lowest recorded −50.6 °C (−59.1 °F) on February 1, 1947.

        In July, temperatures average 16.8 °C (62.2 °F), with the highest recorded being 37.0 °C (98.6 °F) on August 10, 1991.

        -18 On average in winter? Anne!!! Should I send blankets?? We had -20 once in my life, still had to bike 12 kilometers to school. Well, we were warm when we got there 🙂 but the whole country was in upheavel over the temperature and the snow. 🙂

        How do you get your vitamin D when sun is so low in summer?
        xx, Feeling

      2. Honestly, I take vitamin D all year and I have a happy light on my desk, that has uv Rays. It made abig difference. SAD season affect disorder, or winter blues, USA real problem.
        It is s funny place. The day’s seeking and beautiful right now, so we forget that in January we only have a few hours of weak sunshine and it is dark a lot!!!

  14. Thanks for all your help and advice, both here and on my blog. I’m back on Day one. I’ll think of you on your retreat! Annie x

  15. Enjoy your retreat. I really loved this post. As I read it I remembered I had a drinking dream last night. In the dream I did not tell anyone I was drinking. WTF. Gosh, it felt so horrible to have that rise in my subconscious. The best I can do is remember that I have much to learn, much to grow into here on planet Earth. Glad to have bloggers to journey with. Glad for the gift of a drinking dream, rather than a real drink.

    I’m here to live. I have nothing, absolutely nothing, to escape from.

    xo Lisa

    1. I’ve had dreams like that. I don’t think I could live with the guilt I would feel lying about being sober. It would be like denying myself.
      Honesty is a vital part of my life. I can’t even tell a little white lie now. It just makes me feel ill.
      Striving for my words to be true and kind brings me contentment.

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