I thought I wanted to stop drinking for years.
I had journals I would fill with words to that effect.
Weighty Tomes filled with the same old phrases.
Litanies of frustration.
Monologues of retribution.
And I had no idea that all I was filling them with was evidence of how unready I was to stop drinking.
Fast forward through the years to where I am now. Not drinking. Obviously. No big surprise there.
But now my inbox is filled with other people’s chronicles of drinking.
And it easy to spot within seconds whether a person is ready to proactively stop drinking.
Or whether this is just another avenue to vent their inner loathing of themselves.
I’m of the strong belief that the more weapons we have in our non-drinking arsenal, the better our chance of winning the war.
With that in mind, it might be a good idea to go back through your own essays of despair, whether they be a diary, email correspondence or a blog, and see where you measure up right now on the scale of truly wanting to stop drinking.
Versus the self-flagellation that masquerades as wanting to stop.
If you use phrases like
I can’t go on like this anymore
I’m tired of my life
I hate myself
I despise the way I look
I’m out of control
I don’t like being single
My life is meaningless
I’ve always been a drinker
I hate my relationship
Then none of these are a good indicator of a person who is ready to stop drinking. They just want to stop feeling. And alcohol is a crappy way of doing that. But if your expectations are low enough, it will just about do as a method.
Phrases that are more indicative of a person ready to stop are:
I know there is a better life than the one I’m living as a drinker
I do have depression, but I’m seeking help with it.
I look at other people’s lives and I think I deserve what they have too
I do believe there might be other hobbies out there that aren’t drinking.
I don’t know what I want to do with my life, but I am willing to find out.
I’m not great at relationships, but I want to learn.
I have anxiety, but I want to address it.
Wanting to stop drinking successfully comes from a place of having zero answers, but be open to solutions.
Not from a place of needing to be perfect. Or refusing to listen. Or deciding we are beyond help.
We all have the same fears, but we all also have the same hopes and aspirations.
All that separates us is how willing we are to believe. To have faith that we can be helped. But we aren’t the expert. To leave that part to the ones who have already nailed non-drinking. And done so in a way that appeals to us.
Find someone living the sober life you want. Then do whatever it takes to persuade them to tell you how they did it.
Keep knocking on enough doors and one will open.
But in the meantime, be honest with yourself about whether you truly believe a non-drinking life is possible.
And begin that process by looking through you own words that you’ve already written.
Because you can’t hide from them.
And then the truth of them will set you free.