This is not just the story of how I freed myself from alcohol. It’s also about how I finally realized what real strength is. I confused strength and weakness for a long time and it crippled me. I now understand that vulnerability is courage and it means loving myself as I am. Not as the person I wanted people to think I was.
I’m not stupid. Logic told me what I was doing was stupid. But I was too scared to admit that I wanted to quit. I was afraid of admitting it and then failing. I didn’t love myself enough to allow myself to imagine a beautiful booze-free life. So I constructed walls and hid behind them clutching my empty bottle of whiskey. And all the while, love was waiting for me on the other side. How completely insane of me.
As my wife chipped away at the walls I had built I got more and more scared. I felt cornered and like there was nowhere left to hide. Near the end I would listen to myself try to rationalize what I was doing. I can remember so clearly sitting in her office, repeating the same tired lines as always. Except this time was different. It was like I was listening to the conversation as a third party from outside my body. You know what I heard? I heard a drunk, insane person saying insane things to a beautiful woman that only wanted to help.
Here’s what I would have said to her if fear hadn’t strangled my voice:
I hate the fact that I drink so much. I have done so many stupid things and feel so much regret. Even though I hate it I can’t imagine life with out it. I’m afraid to even think about it. I worry that people won’t like me or that I won’t like myself. I am terrified of trying and failing because what that would mean. It would mean that I am doomed to drink for the rest of my life. It would mean that you would leave me and I can’t even think about that. I know I am killing myself and yet I still can’t stop. I want to be free so fucking badly but I am just too scared. Help me. Please.
There were so many things about not drinking that terrified me. It was such a large part of the persona I had created. I didn’t know who I was without it. What if I didn’t like me? What would the process of finding out even look like? It sounded like a lot of risky work.
How was I going to be able to socialize with people? One of the reasons I drank is because I felt like I was socially awkward without it. What if no one liked me? I was afraid of losing my friends because then I’d be sober with no friends and what good would that be?
I was scared that the “good enough” I had been settling for was actually as good as it gets. I seriously thought that I might be operating at the limit of my capabilities. If I quit drinking and nothing else changed then was ditching my security blanket worth it?
I spent all my time focused on everything I thought I would have to give up. Continuing to drink seemed a hell of a lot better than dealing with the sacrifices of being sober. Besides, I didn’t drink that much (yes I did).
What happened was nothing like what I spent all that time dreading. In short order I realized that every single fear I had constructed was an illusion. Every. Single. One.
My relationships with people that were already in my life have transformed. They are deeper, more meaningful and so much more beautiful. We nourish each other in ways that were never possible when we were drunk. I’ve met more new and amazing people than I would have ever thought possible. And every one of those relationships is based me. The real me.
I discovered I love writing and am a very creative person. At forty-one years old, I did not know that about myself. I’ve written countless articles and stories and with each one uncover more of my true voice. I’m like an artist man.
I’ve become fitter and faster than I have ever been in my life. I rode my bike 7000 kilometers last year. That’s a lot. I feel physically and emotionally great and I understand that you can’t have one without the other.
I’m nicer and calmer. I’m a much better husband, father and son than I used to be. I am more grateful and appreciative and I am committed to helping people in ways that I never thought about when I was drinking.
I’ve started grieving over the death of my first wife who committed suicide. It took six years and eighteen months of being sober. It’s hard some days but I’m not pretending anymore. I lost someone I was with for sixteen years of my life. It hurts sometimes but it is so important to work through it
My life is better in every way. Not necessarily easier, but better.
What have I learned? Imagine abundance instead of creating scarcity. Don’t be scared of what you think you will have to give up. Spend your time focused on how incredible your life will be when you reach your goals.
Spend less time focused on doing less of what you don’t want. Find what you do want and do much more of that. Over time you will crowd out and outgrow the other stuff.
Share your story. When you do you will help yourself in ways you can’t imagine. You’ll also help other people. That’s the message that I want to shout from the rooftops.