Sunday, 4 January 2015

Sobriety and its Money Back Guarantee

If this is your 4th Day sober then you may be feeling the pressure. The initial euphoria of ‘having done it!’ has passed and reality is kicking in with tomorrow bringing the return to work and school for much of the UK (myself included).

So instead of thinking it has passed and it’s time to knuckle down to the nitty gritty, stop and congratulate yourself that for the last 3 nights you have managed to say no. Did you believe that could happen a month ago? Probably not. Could you do the same for another three nights? Of course you could!

Instead of thinking it will be harder this week remember that back into your usual routine, time flies by. Plus the focus on socialising and drinking has gone and normal life resumes. This year you have a head start of four sober days, a clear head and a clear conscience to match.

If you are worrying about how you will cope without a glass of wine to collapse with at the end of each day, don’t. Don’t even think about it. There is no need to think about it as you have decided you no longer drink wine so you must now do something else. Anything else. Change your routine at your critical wine o’clock moment, when you would usually open the wine. Walk the dog, do the ironing, have a glass of sparkling water. Do anything except open the wine. Just do it for tonight. 

Two years ago I was in this exact same circumstance. I lasted until 21st January. Those observant enough to notice my sober date as 28th March will be correct in assuming I tried again in February and again in March until finally having success. The theme there is to keep trying.

What changed at the end of March? 

Two things really. Firstly I changed my mindset from counting up my days of not drinking to that of a non-drinker where instead I counted the days since I made that change. Subtle but effective I felt. 
The second thing really took the pressure off and lowered the stakes. Feeling ‘allowed’ to drink if I really wanted reduced my anxiety about whether I could manage or not and took away (some) of my fear of failure. 

I asked myself each night if I could ignore my craving for one more evening. If it was still awful the next night, I could reconsider my on-going sobriety and may choose to have a drink if I so wished. I literally did this each time I was tempted to drink. I used it at each social event, then at each challenging ‘first’ I encountered. 

Each time when I would have reached for the wine, I asked myself to try that event, whatever it was, sober, just this once. If it was truly awful and I realised it a big mistake then at the next event or challenge, I could choose to drink if I still wanted to do so. 

When every ‘next time’ came I felt so proud of my additional achievement and chose to continue it for just a bit longer. The thing with alcohol is, it is always there and it will always be there. It’s very reliable. If you change your mind and feel this sober business is too strict for you, alcohol will still be there, waiting for you. It will be just the same as it always was, in all respects, I assure you.


If you’ve tried sobriety for the last 3 days and have enjoyed it, try to keep going for three more, relaxing in the knowledge that sobriety comes with an infinite money back guarantee: at any time you can return to your ways of old safe in the knowledge that the booze will always be waiting for you and it will be just as if you’ve never been away.

17 comments :

  1. It's weird. I come from a long line of alcoholics. I've never been a daily drinker and never crave booze or drink at home. but probably twice a month I have a couple of drinks at social events. My problem is if I go past 2 drinks then a switch goes and I'm very likely to drink to the point where I won't remember what I did. Nobody has ever suggested I have a problem I'm usually told it was good to see you "losen up" or "you are more fun when you drink" . Yet I've regularly felt ashamed of my behaviour and hate the depressed 2 day hangover. I suspect there are many more people like me than the daily drinkers and we aren't acknowledged as problem drinkers. But it's clearly a problem.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yep, the problem of alcohol can come in all shapes and forms. Only you know if it is a problem for you.

      Delete
  2. This way of thinking is one of the (many) reasons I loved your book so much. Thanks for the great reminder. I'm actually looking forward to us getting back in to our normal routine this week.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. thanks for your kind words. Feedback always appreciated.

      Delete
  3. Similar to one of the previous comments, I know I'm no alcoholic as going without for a few days is not a problem. Truth be told going without for weeks doesn't fill me with fear. However, when I do drink I often drink to excess and frequently have little or no recollection of what I've said or done.

    At the moment I'm making an effort with my social life as I'm recently single and have a comparatively new group of friends. Inevitably we socialise in the pub. My problem is also that after three or four drinks I'm then out for the night. Being brutally honest it's occasionally meant me getting home as my kids are getting up with a suitably angry response from my now ex partner.

    I very nearly ruined Christmas at my ex's as I was late due to the much needed alcohol induced lie in.

    I'm contemplating stopping as it's clearly not doing me any favours when I drink to excess. However, as a man who is pretty shy without a drink inside him, my worry is how to socialise, converse and generally cope with being out and about on a Friday night.

    Any tips for overcoming this would be gratefully received. I need to change as my abuse of alcohol was probably instrumental in the breakdown of my relationship and its only now I truly get the meaning of "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone".

    Sadly that ship has sailed, but I still have a life ahead of me which i don't want blighted by boozy blackouts!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. havelso not an alcoholic but when I am out with friends I binge drink which at the time is fun. After these fun evenings of binge drinking I find myself feeling depressed and mortified and I am usually riding the train to self loathing central. On NYE at a party I made a decision that I would start 2015 feeling fresh so for every drink I drank I drank a pint of water. I have been doing this for a few months now and I have realised that I can still enjoy myself being merry instead of being plastered. I am really looking forward to a whole month of better sleep and being organised!! Wine is like a drug I avoid it like the plague.

      Delete
    2. I don't have any magic potions but perhaps, at first just aim to stop drinking and put your social life on the back burner for a while. Give yourself some time out from it, avoid the stress and be kind to yourself while your confidence is low and your anxiety high. As you acknowledge, you cannot change the past but you are in control of your future. Don't lose anything else you deem important. Well done, it sounds as if you are taking an honest look at your drinking habits.

      Delete
  4. Day 6. Getting there. It's hard but I'm much happier.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Must be almost day 8 now?? Wow. Go you!

      Delete
  5. Hi Rachel. I came across your blog on Sunday, quite by accident and it certainly tapped into my struggles managing my relationship with alcohol. I'm a home drinker, prey to using alcohol as the reward card, as a crisis response and the 'wine 'o clock' syndrome. I particularly liked your no nonsense, 'them's the facts, ma'am' style, your advice on dealing with cravings as they happen and your counsel regarding the psychology round repeat stopping and starting. Oddly or perhaps obviously, it motivated me in a there and then way to do exactly as you said; stop, just stop. And I haven't had a drink since Sunday. And while that may not seem long, it isn't, it is a very, very long time since I've had two nights without alcohol. I haven't slept much but at least the middle of the night is good for taking down Christmas decorations. It's early days, so who knows but it's a start as is every day. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well done. You have taken the first major step: making day zero become day 1 is the hardest time. Next it becomes slowly easier.
      You're right too: how can it possibly be so hard NOT to do something??
      Keep at it and keep in touch. Rx

      Delete
  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your contact. I hope you are not disappointed and I wish you well. Remember you can comment anonymously if you prefer.

      Delete
  7. Hi Rachel

    Your blog is a revelation. My situation is very similar to Breeda (6.1.15) (thank you Breeda). I tell myself every morning that I won't drink (white wine) tonight, definitely not, but when wine o'clock comes round at about 6.30 pm, I open a bottle and have 2-3 glasses. My husband died in September 2013; I find the evenings intolerable on my own, though I'm fine during the day and wouldn't dream of drinking during the day. So, I am a solitary drinker but I also drink in company. I am 67 and am trying to keep fit, have never smoked and would really try to kick the habit, but don't seem to be able to contemplate an evening with my 'anaesthetic'. Well done you, I admire you - and Breeda and live in hope - but there never seems to be the right time to just stop.

    Carla

    ReplyDelete
  8. Hi Carla. Not much to admire here, I'm afraid but thank you for your kind words. I slipped up on my last attempt and it took a while to right the wagon but it is day six of a new attempt. I can only offer you my sincere sympathies on your loss and my complete understanding at your wish/need to anaesthetise such an awful experience. I also understand the experience of alcohol as a 'friend' or company in time spent alone when it's harder to hide from pain. My impetus to stop is certainly imperfectly formed but as much as my desire to drink remains, so too does my desire to stop. I have found that while the decision to drink each evening is made very quickly, it's almost like a reflex, the decision not to makes itself very similarly. Now, as in my case, it is a decision that has been remade more than once but in Rachel's blog I have found a way to remake that decision; just not today. My drinking, though not excessive by some standards, has begun to impair my work, my personal relationships, affect my moods and generally make me less pleasant to be around. I don't know if you are there yet but I can tell you that after these six days, already, all of those things have improved, if only because I have more energy. I'm going to try to hang on to this feeling. I think you are very brave, Carla and I wish you the very best as you go on. Keep in touch.

    Breeda

    ReplyDelete
  9. Hi Carla. Not much to admire here, I'm afraid but thank you for your kind words. I slipped up on my last attempt and it took a while to right the wagon but it is day six of a new attempt. I can only offer you my sincere sympathies on your loss and my complete understanding at your wish/need to anaesthetise such an awful experience. I also understand the experience of alcohol as a 'friend' or company in time spent alone when it's harder to hide from pain. My impetus to stop is certainly imperfectly formed but as much as my desire to drink remains, so too does my desire to stop. I have found that while the decision to drink each evening is made very quickly, it's almost like a reflex, the decision not to makes itself very similarly. Now, as in my case, it is a decision that has been remade more than once but in Rachel's blog I have found a way to remake that decision; just not today. My drinking, though not excessive by some standards, has begun to impair my work, my personal relationships, affect my moods and generally make me less pleasant to be around. I don't know if you are there yet but I can tell you that after these six days, already, all of those things have improved, if only because I have more energy. I'm going to try to hang on to this feeling. I think you are very brave, Carla and I wish you the very best as you go on. Keep in touch.

    Breeda

    ReplyDelete

Go on, spill.

Follow @SoberRachel