Spring. Pretty bloody great time of year, all things considered. Daffodils blooming. Fluffy little lambs frolicking all over the shop. Waking up to our old friend the sun, instead of pitch black mornings.
Seems like the ideal time to stop drinking, really, doesn’t it? A chance to feel fresh and clean and new. To feel perfect and good. As opposed to washed-up and faded. Old and stagnant. Whatever it is we associate with the way our drinking makes us feel. Whatever those adjectives are we use to beat ourselves up. Those words that wound. The blades we turn only on ourselves.
But only if we get to be perfect. Only if we do it right immediately. Whichever arbitrary day we assign as “Day One”. And definitely only if the entire world falls into place with our new regime at the same time. If our body obeys us and automatically drops those dress sizes to give us the holy grail of single figure status. Because if these things don’t happen? We don’t want to Spring anywhere. We wish to Fall back, and stay back.
I do want to be sober, but only if I have what I believe is the perfect body, at exactly the right size. Yes, I want to stop drinking, but I want to know exactly what to do with all that time I’ve got on my hands, I want all the new hobbies and people and places and interests to be instantly assembled, ready to step into and zip up now, (kind of like that little black dress I will be wearing effortlessly in that perfect size we already discussed…)
Of course being alcohol free is the goal for me. But I want to be totally comfortable in every social situation. Automatically. And permanently. And if that isn’t going to happen?
Then I’ll just stay here. Wait until it does.
The Waiting Room is not a wonderful place to spring into. Though it will feel comfortable and familiar, because it’s very similar to the Waiting Room we sit in during our drinking days. The room we wait in until our relationships feel strong enough to withstand us taking the apparently “dramatic” decision to not drink. I’ll wait here until I understand how to manage my social anxiety. Or to be able to switch off from work without the aid of a bottle of wine.
So when things aren’t going 100% to plan. When we’ve had a hard day with colleagues, or home is making us stressed. When friends or lovers are making us feel insecure. Do we continue to Spring Forward? Or do we choose to Fall Back? To wait until the world is a more easily controllable place? Until we are loved unconditionally. Until we feel like the real success we wish to be.
The truth is, even when we nail the art of non-drinking, the ground beneath us is never guaranteed to be steady. People still leave us in various ways. The shifting components of our life we have no control over still keep moving, at whatever pace they choose to.
It’s undeniable that one of the only things we can control is how we react to things. But if we choose to Spring Forward, and keep Springing Forward? There is a far more important life skill we need to cultivate: How to set the emotional tone of our day. How to choose a way to feel and stick with it, irrespective of external circumstance. To choose our mood with the same care we choose our clothes in the morning, or the food we eat. To not be swayed by other people’s words or sentiments towards us. To rise above and keep moving towards our goal of a full, happy, alcohol free life.
We’ve all Fallen Back. All given in to the myth of perfection. All felt another season pass us by in a haze or regret and self-loathing.
Isn’t it time we tried something different?