Trying to walk the perfect path

Here I am, day 14. Thank you for all your help and encouragement last night. Yesterday was difficult. I so nearly drank, at one point actually carefully making a gin and tonic, ice and everything, then putting it in the fridge, and then pouring it down the sink and having a plain tonic instead. Rather than drinking, I sat down and read blogs, coming across an interesting post on Fitfatfood’s blog (which I love), in which she’d posted an article about Moderation Management. Reading it, a whole host of thoughts went through my mind, including the possibility of drinking, but it was at the end of the article that I poured the gin and tonic down the drain. Primrose had commented on that blog, putting up a link to another post by hipsobriety which also made fascinating reading – it’s about embracing sobriety and seeing the positives, rather than feeling different, like a leper (it didn’t say that, but that’s my interpretation of it) and it helped me to see that I could turn sobriety into a good thing for me, that I could enjoy it, rather than constantly seeing it as a hurdle and as a terrible burden. Alongside these two blogs, and many other helpful ones, I read Mummywasasecretdrinker’s latest post, about obstacles, and that really helped too.

So you see, instead of drinking my gin and tonic, and returning to the torture that is my daily will I/won’t I drink debate, I put that aside, and did some more research, and that helped me stay sober for another day.

I am stumbling along the path, and it is far from perfect. It’s one of the things that makes it hard for me, the quest to have the perfect path. I guess in my mind I have the Ideal Sober Plan set up, with regular meetings, counselling sessions, a tidy toolbox, rewards, a mind increasingly clear, a shiny blog, a crisp sense that what I am doing is right.  The reality is so different: daily struggling with whether or not I want/need to be sober, constant cancelling and rebooking the counsellor, big question mark over whether I should attend meetings and whether or not they are helpful to me when I do go, the nagging feeling that I’m overreacting…

But today I am here, Day 14. Not perfect, but not hungover or regretful. Perhaps I shouldn’t think about it all quite so much!

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24 thoughts on “Trying to walk the perfect path”

  1. Two whole weeks is awesome! Well done.

    It’s amazing how if you do the right things, read the right stuff, you can get through the intense feelings. The fact that you even made a drink then poured it away must have taken some serious strength. If I’d gone that far I’m not sure I would have managed to turn back.

    Now you have a lovely hangover-free Sunday to enjoy. There’s no better reward than that x

    1. Making that drink, then putting it in the side in the kitchen and staring at it, then putting it in the fridge (quite an odd thing to do), then pouring it away…this was a bit of a breakthrough moment for me. Thanks for being here. Annie x

  2. I think you’ve stumbled on the secret, you have to embrace sobriety. Put your arms around it like an old friend, your most trustworthy best old friend. It loves you, it misses you, it will never do anything to hurt you. I made a comment on one of the message boards today, that stopped me in my tracks when I realized the truthiness of it. “There is not a minute of my four years of sobriety that I regret, not one. I can’t say the same of the previous 25 years.”
    Proud of you.

  3. The only think you need to be “perfect” about is not drinking.
    How you do that, well, that’s up to you.

    But just surrendering to the fact that you do not drink. Period. Is unbelievably liberating. No debate. No worrying. No uncertainty.

    One path.

    1. Yes, one path, Anne. Thank you, as always, for supporting me. I remember last October, when I was away on holiday and had started drinking again, and had stopped writing here, you emailed me and reminded me of what I could achieve if I wanted to. I am grateful for that. Annie x

  4. Good going Annie! 14 days is great, and it’s wonderful to see you getting through those tough moments. I think the only perfection that’s attainable comes in making good decisions moment to moment, and you’re doing just that. Hooray you! xo

  5. Nicely done. Congratulations on two weeks. I agree strongly with a couple things you said. First, that you shouldn’t think about it so much. Ann is dead on that giving up the constant debate over getting sober or not is tremendously liberating. It is where I part some with Hipsobriety’s article — which I do think is spot on in quite a bit of it. But one of the great benefits of AA and the step approach, which comes at the beginning, is step one, the step that says you admit you are out of control, and step two, when you say that you can’t fix it alone (I know that step two is couched in higher power language — but for me, admitting that I needed a “higher power” to take control is no more than admitting that I cannot and should not be in control of decisions about my drinking anymore. Because I was making bad decisions, and it was time to start listening to someone — anyone — else). That meant that it was no longer up for (internal) debate exactly which path I should take. I should take the sober path and what that looked like was not up for me to decide.

    So instead of trying to figure out which of the many ways to stay sober you are going to do, I say try them all. Go to meetings and take the advice there, or even just use them as a time when you aren’t drinking. Go to the counselor (for God’s sake GO — you know if there was ever a question whether you had a problem in that doctor’s mind, your constant canceling and rebooking has convinced him, me, and I hope yourself that YES you have a problem) and take his or her advice. Take the advice on the blogs, read books, websites, whatever keeps you sober another day, hour, or minute. Try everything (except drinking and except things YOU think of that involve alcohol — and why are the mixings for gin and tonic in the house, you crazy fool!) and keep what feels best. The goal is to get through these early days.

    And I am glad to hear you are embracing the positive side of sobriety — it is there and it is wonderful. That said, I don’t want you to think that the reason these early days are so hard is because you haven’t had the right attitude or outlook. To go back to the motherhood analogy, you can have a hard time with a newborn but decide to embrace the joy you know a lifetime of parenting will bring you. Good. But you are still going to have a hard time once in a while with babies and kids and adult children. Sobriety is hard work that is especially hard at the beginning. But it gets easier and it is definitely worth it.

    One other place I want to disagree (with great respect) with Hipsobriety is with her assertion that there is no such thing as an alcoholic (or not as many as are claimed). I get her point, and I definitely agree that it is crazy and counterproductive to shame people who admit they have a problem with alcohol and do something about it. But I truly think there are some people who can have a, if not healthy, then not UNhealthy relationship with alcohol. My husband, who has the occasionally drink, is one of them. If someone said to him, sorry, no more alcohol for the rest of your life, he would answer, “oh, okay” and he’d be fine. Had someone said that to me before I got sober, I would have gone into extreme mourning and denial and tantrum (which I did on my way to sobriety — of course, today I would say YOU BETCHA!). Yeah, there are a lot of problem drinkers out there who don’t admit it and yeah our society condones a lot more drinking alcohol that is healthy, but it is hard enough to worry about just me. I believe sobriety is the only path for me if I want to live a happy, healthy life. I think the same is probably true for you.

    And finally, a word in support of AA. When I first went in, I worried unreasonably about all the AA haters online and the stats about low cure rates and all I read about AA being a cult that bullies you into admitting to a disease and socially isolating yourself, etc. etc. It bothered me especially that AA doesn’t defend itself (nor, by the way, make claims about its success rate). What I learned is AA works 100% of the time for people who want it to work — which I know is a tautology, but stick with me. It is a program, as they will say, for “people who want it, not need it.” It is much more flexible than Hipsobriety suggests — I know happy AA members of almost all religions and no religion at all. I know people who work the steps in 2 weeks and some who take 2 years and some who never get beyond the first step. My home group has women and men and people who don’t gender-identify, gay and straight and celibate, rich and poor, disabled, dying, healthy, old, young, and not one of them has ever complained that the program excludes them. If it doesn’t work for you or anyone, AA sincerely wishes you well and hopes you find happiness and peace, no judgement no pressure. It is about and only about helping people stop drinking (the ONLY requirement for membership is a desire to quit drinking) — it doesn’t engage in debate, online or off, on its methods or insist it is the only way. For me, it was the support I needed and continue to need, and it is a honor to support others through the program and what I learned there.

  6. 2 weeks is awesome, Annie! I love the self-care running rampant through your evening – reading blogs, following threads and themes, finding inspiration for what you needed right then and there, and then? Wow. Going with the tonic. Incredible. And awesome. … And to say, so,e days I have trouble with the ‘maybes,’ but I keep in place what Anne mentioned above, and even when it sucks, it really helps me. I just don’t drink because it’s not an option. I can yearn for it to be an option, but it’s not. Case closed. And some days I spin about it for hours, but even then, the equation is already solved for me, because no alcohol is going past these lips. Sidenote: The fact that I spend hours thinking about the maybes really only emphasizes the truth that I shouldn’t, no matter how I feel about that truth some days.

  7. It’s interesting what you said about seeing sobriety as a burden and feeling “different” and instead trying to turn it into a positive. I remember feeling the same way, like permanent sobriety was this big burdensome thing. It’s funny how the addiction can completely twist the truth around and make you think sobriety is the burden and drinking is the freedom. After a year of not drinking, I have found that it’s really the opposite. My drinking was the huge burden and complete abstinence was freedom! You’ll get there, but it takes time. In the beginning I thought of each sober day like dropping a penny in a big jar. Keep dropping in those pennies. Some of those pennies will be easy to come by, and some very hard, but before you know it, you’ll have something really worthwhile. Keep going!

  8. Great advice from above! Way to go Annie..you are gaining so much from sobriety…and the feeling of “I’m Different etc ” goes away…you will be so happy you didn’t drink!

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