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