Is this a habit? 

A fellow blogger made a comment yesterday and it tweaked a thought for me.Is alcohol abuse a habit to break?

When I first quit drinking I definitely believed it was. I felt I had started including a glass of wine here and there, and for all social events, as a habit. And that it had gotten out of control. So I quit and I looked for ways to replace my habit with other things. That’s it. Just a few changes and I would be ok.

(Note – this sounds much easier than it was. I actually tried to cut back for many, many years. I swore every Monday I was never drinking again. And by Friday I had completely downplayed those grand proclamations and was back at it. It was a downward spiral that was just getting more and more painful and scary. But in all those years I never once considered I was an alcoholic or addicted to alcohol. Never once. Denial is a powerful thing.)

So, there I was, not drinking, but full of anxiety, distress and without my old coping mechanism. I couldn’t seem to find a habit that replaced drinking in a similar way. Things got harder and harder for me.

In my pain, I started searching. I went to an AA meeting. I read some sober memoirs. I found bloggers writing MY STORY in their words. So I considered sobriety. Recovery. AA. All things I had vehemently refused to even consider at first. I actually began to accept I had been addicted to alcohol. Copulsively. Insanely. I could understand how people ended up losing everything to addiction. One wrong decision could have been life altering. I had escaped a potentially horrible fate, and I needed to recognize and celebrate that!

Joining the world of recovery was like being reborn. I found others who understand. Understand the fun of the grocery store on Sunday night. The beauty of playing with your kids without a glass in your hand. The joy of a hangover free morning. Every single day.

And who could laugh and relate to the things I did when I was drinking – going to different liquor stores, switching drinks, watering down drinks, drink rules, argh. They were so demoralizing at the time, but when others nod and say me too, they lose their shame and become just another difficult thing I did to try to get by.

I went to a meeting last night. I wasn’t going to go. I am pretty sporadic, but Craig wanted to go, so I went. It was all people telling their own recent personal “a ha” moments. Things like being recognized for the first time ever for doing a good job at work, being present for their child when he needed advice and a shoulder to cry on and the desire to help others and the satisfaction we get when we try. The people sharing were mainly men, blue collar, tough. Their heartfelt amazement in themselves moved me to tears. 

It was awesome. It reassured me that I wasn’t the only one seeing how not drinking has changed EVERYTHING. And how recovery provides a place to share and celebrate the beauty of life.

My life feels like one big A HA MOMENT. Everything has potential. Beauty. Simplicity. Ease.

And even with that I still get those special little moments. At Disturbed on Saturday night they brought out the cello and violin to play Sound of Silence. And in that moment life was beautiful. Time stood still.

I wish everyone could feel the revitalization I do. My personal journey of anxiety, depression and addiction into recovery isn’t all that thrilling. I have had a pretty regular life. But the gift of awareness I have found in recovery has made every moment meaningful and worthwhile. I wouldn’t change anything. I am grateful for my pain and my joy.

SO – I do think for many people drinking too much is a habit. That can be broken through behavioral modification. But be careful not to miss out on the possibility that recovery brings. I wish it for everyone.

Stillness and Peace



29 thoughts on “Is this a habit? 

  1. Great post Anne. I haven’t really immersed myself into the recovery world yet. I read sober blogs and books, and lurk the Living Sober website and Hello Sunday Morning, but I haven’t been to AA yet or met sober people in real life. I would like to though. But sometimes I would like to just ‘be’. Be sober and carry on as normal. But I know that is when you can become complacent, so I have to be careful. Love your new profile pic! A x

    1. It’s not complacency I would worry about.
      It’s missing the intense reawakening.

      Maybe not everyone gets that. But to find that my ordinary life is actually precious and magical has been amazing.

      Thanks! It’s good to hear from you!

      1. I really hope I get the intense reawakening you talk about. I don’t want an ordinary life anymore, I want and amazing one!

  2. I LOVE this post.
    I just came home from my AA meeting, and I was very moved by the people there!
    One guy said this year sober has been the BEST YEAR EVER!
    That gave me chills!
    One lady said she is excited about learning who she really is. (She just got out of treatment.)
    One beautiful, ordinary, sober day with joy!

  3. Yes Anne I love love love this post! I, too, see myself and the world in a radically different paradigm now after living only a year sober. While I don’t think that alcohol caused ALL of my struggles…I can say with certainty that alcohol and my addiction to it stood in the way of everything: healing, peace, growth, truth, joy, and, well, it just stood in the way of living.
    Thank you for sharing this post. It’s hearing things like this that help me feel good about and own my decision to live life in recovery.

  4. Thank you Anne. This is my first comment on any blog. I’m brand new at this. I’m reading all I can. You and others are such inspirations.

  5. It certainly feels like a whole lot more than breaking a habit! For me I felt like my life was divided in two and there were two different people living it. There’s such a lightness now where there was such heaviness and darkness before.

  6. Beautifully written, Anne. I can almost feel the intensity of your joy and that desire to share how marvelous and beautiful the ordinary can be, but of course, only you really know the depth and breadth of that feeling. Whenever I try to describe a similar sense, I find that words completely fail me. It is something that can’t be told, it must be lived. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. It brings light to dark places. Your writing reassures me of the path I’m on.

    Last night I went for a walk. Under 20 minutes. Just once around the block. I used to run for miles and miles and win medals. I was listening to the wind moving through the clattering tree branches and thinking about what it felt like to accept my changed body. It feels ordinary. But, my life is full of so much joy that it was missing before. In that moment, I felt the blessing of being ordinary. Thank you for reminding me of the joy that is there.

  7. I especially love the third paragraph where you tell it like it really was. I did that exactly, except that I would sometimes call Monday part of the weekend because it was just too awful to try to quit on a Monday. (This made total sense at the time.) I am 11 days into sobriety and my new blog. Check it out if you have time. ; )

    — S

  8. Great post and well written. I think the “regular/mundane” aspects of life are much more appreciated from a sober perspective. I recently quit drinking after trying for 3 years and have finally found that sweet spot of really wanting it. I too found a portion of the problem was the habit of drinking at a specific time or when I finished working or hung out with certain people. However making different choices, exercising daily and allowing myself to indulge in sweets and treats has changed that whole perspective and allowed me to gracefully reach 20 days. I’m looking forward to my 30, but even more so to my 365. I also found that blogging online is really helpful. This community of supportive people that get it are amazing and being able to share your successes, strengths and weaknesses is a great outlet.

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