Billie, aka The Share kindly commented on my “Drinking and Blogging” post. I’d like to share her words in its entirety here today because I think she says a lot of good things, especially regarding our “Willingness…to work through the pain barrier of life without alcohol”. Well worth the full read…thanks Billie!
There was something on UK TV last week when an addiction expert said that “addicts cannot be loved, educated or punished out of their addiction.” If that’s true then it begs the question, what DOES work? I don’t claim to know everything about this illness but I do know about my version of it and there are some things I’m convinced of, so I hope you don’t mind if I share them now:
1. I never wanted to stop drinking, I just wanted to lose the consequences. I waited for ages for the ‘want’ to arrive but guess what, it never did, even after I’d hit rock bottom. The problem was that I was looking for the wrong thing in the wrong place – I didn’t need to want to stop, I just had to be willing to, and willing to work through the pain barrier of life without alcohol. It really was as simple as that. Though the fact that it was ‘simple’ didn’t make it easy. So maybe ask yourself the question ‘Am I actually willing to do this?’ and YES YES YES, IT IS WITHIN YOUR POWER. For me, willingness proved to be enough to get me started and is what keeps me going – I’m willing to not drink even though I sometimes want to when life stinks or I’m bored or in emotional pain. Willingness combined with sobriety is a potent defense against this illness.
2. I think we need to have something that makes the ‘fight’ worthwhile… something that drives the willingness. It’s difficult to change ingrained behaviour without a good reason. For me it was reclaiming my non-existent dignity, rebuilding a relationship with my family, not having blackouts, not waking up in a filthy, stinking bed full of cans and bottles and wanting people to stop pitying me, which I hated. What things drive your willingness to not drink and get sober? In moments of weakness, when we’re craving, it’s a real effort to hang on to why we’re doing this. There are lots of things we can do to fight cravings but I won’t make this post even longer by listing them here, I’ll do a blog instead.
3. There’s no one size fits all answer to this illness, rather the solution is made up of lots of smaller things – not drinking an hour or a day at a time, sharing our feelings with other people like us, looking at ourselves and the world differently, being willing to change, valuing ourselves, changing routines, avoiding boredom, not getting hungry, angry, lonely or tired, if it works for us then going to a mutual aid group like AA, taking strength from our faith (if we have it)… the list goes on it. It’s a bit like a puzzle and we can’t expect to put all the right pieces in place at once but the first pieces are always the same – don’t drink and share our thoughts and feelings with others. The one caveat is that stopping ‘cold turkey’ can cause fits so we should always speak to our doctor beforehand so they can assess any risks and if necessary supervise the ‘detox.’ Sorry this is such a long reply but hope bits of it are helpful.
All the best, Billie.