Sobriety is the First Step to Getting the Life You Want

Sobriety is the First Step to Getting the Life You Want

Everything you hope for is what your life will fill up with if you quit booze.

Image for postPhoto by Nicole Geri on Unsplash

If I?d known how sobriety would feel, I might have arrived at it sooner. But, naturally, I had no idea.

We live in a culture of more, an increasingly Godless society where Yolo reigns supreme. Meanwhile, dictionary.com?s definition of sobriety is ?seriousness, gravity or solemnity?.

For the heavy drinker, it can seem like giving up alcohol means giving up feeling good. Why would anyone ever want to do that?

As I struggled to keep booze in my life, I focused on what I would be missing out on if I quit. Chilled wine with dinner, beer gardens with friends, champagne toasts at weddings. How the hell would I manage?

When you focus on what you would lose, the future looks bleak. But when you imagine a life in which you continue to struggle with drinking, it is just as bad.

In AA they call this the jumping-off point. When you can no longer imagine life with alcohol or without it.

I call it the deliberation years. A period when you try and fail to moderate, when you weigh up your options. I deliberated hard for a year or two, and I write this post in the hope that you don?t have to.

Because, from here, it seems like a gigantic waste of time! What an absolute no brainer! And I know that we take as long as we need to learn our lessons? but maybe my experience can help you.

Everything you hope for is what your life will fill up with if you quit booze.

If you find yourself in the deliberation years or at the jumping-off point, when you can?t imagine life with or without alcohol, then here is an exercise for you.

Make a list of all the things you would like to do, the places you would like to visit, the stuff you would love to learn, if only you had more time. Be creative.

Who would you want to spend time with? Where would you like to go?

Now close your eyes, and go over your list. Imagine yourself in this alternate life. Imagine it being natural to this new, improved version of you.

Imagine yourself fully inhabiting this You 2.0.

How does it feel?

Because the truth is that everything you hope for is what your life will fill up with if you quit booze (and deal with any underlying issues, as part of your recovery).

It seems too good to be true, but for me, and dozens of my friends, this is precisely what has happened.

And it?s perfectly logical that it would go this way for you too. Think about it.

First, a formidable maw of time opens up, and then you have to fill it. You learn new skills, make new friends, and start to get healthier.

Sure, you might overeat, binge-watch bollocks, have an ill-judged dating period, but you have time to make mistakes and get better.

That?s how much time you win, simply by cutting out booze.

So, if this is logical, if I can vouch for it being true, why then, as you contemplate abstinence, is this the furthest thing from your mind?

Why does giving up beer and wine and gin seemed like the greatest tragedy of your life?

Because you keep focusing on what you will lose, instead of what you will gain.

So take the time to do this exercise. And after you have written your list, return to it. Engage with this alternate life. Believe in it. Because, truly, I promise you, it could be yours.

How I wish I could have flipped my perspective and looked forward to all the positive ways my life would change, instead of feeling so bereaved. I would have felt excited, as I began to get sober, instead of afraid.

I didn?t know it yet, but I had so much to look forward to!

Three and a half years later, I am living such a contented and fulfilling life that a lot of the time I forget I?m sober. I only write so much about it because I want to pass it on. Because it has been such a positive experience.

Those deeply unhappy final years of normalized alcohol abuse seem like a dark period of mental illness. Which I suppose they were.

From this vantage point, it is easy to see that giving up booze was the first step in an overwhelmingly positive transformation. But back then I didn?t know that. I was stepping into the unknown. Of course, it was frightening.

But really, getting sober is about hope and discovery and adventure. It is about overcoming obstacles to make your own dreams come true. That?s the thing I didn?t understand until at least a year after I quit drinking. Sobriety is not really about alcohol at all.

It is a process of getting to know and understand yourself. About learning who you actually are, underneath all the masks and wishful thinking and bullshit.

It?s about finding out what makes you feel good and how you can be useful. About assimilating the past and facing the future. About accepting your own limitations and forgiving yourself for mistakes.

Quitting drinking is the first tiny step to all of this growth. Hope, discovery and adventure await.

The trick is to focus on that hope and let it pull you towards it. Find the people who can nurture and prioritize it along with you.

Stop trying to do it on your own. Find a sober group and learn from what they?re doing. We are so much more powerful when we work together.

I tried to quit drinking dozens of times but it was only when I joined a community of people aiming for the same thing that I was able to manage it. That I was able to keep wanting to manage it.

So make it easy on yourself.

Focus on what you will replace alcohol with.

Stop trying to do it alone.

And remember, you have so much to gain. I promise you, it will be worth it.

If you?re struggling with your drinking, know you aren?t alone.

If you?re ready for something different, try my alcohol experiment. Read Beautiful Hangover.

Do whatever it takes to stay sober for 30 days: go to your doctor, try Smart or AA or Hip Sobriety or Soberistas. Listen to Recovery Elevator and SHAIR podcasts. Read This Naked Mind. Try Moderation Management.

There is a whole community of people just waiting to help you. Reach out. Something better is waiting for you.

Keep in touch at beautifulhangover <3

Chelsey Flood is a novelist, lecturer and truth-seeker. She writes stories about freedom, nature and love, and is currently working on a memoir.

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