The other day, it came to me that for a very long, long time I knew that one day I would quit drinking. I wasn’t sure when or how-it was kind of a vague knowing-if that’s possible. I knew how I didn’t want to do it-I knew that AA wasn’t for me or various other programs that I checked out off and on. But I KNEW that one day I would stop. I also knew that my struggle with drinking was also a Spiritual one. That it was one of the things that I was meant to conquer in this lifetime. This may sound a bit wierd to some, but my belief is that we are all here to learn lessons. Learning these lessons will help us progress not only in this lifetime, but in future ones. That if we don’t choose to face certain struggles in this lifetime, we will have to go through it again in the next one. Of course you have to believe in re-incarnation to go with this premise. Or not. Because even in this lifetime, a person can keep attracting the same issues over and over until they learn to deal with it and change their behavior. A good example of this is continuously choosing the wrong person to be in a relationship with. I know several women and men, that seem to always choose the wrong person to be involved with. Or the wrong type of job. Always ending up in some kind of struggle-some kind of drama. Getting out and repeating. Over and over. Because they haven’t dealt with THEIR stuff. Always looking for an external soulution instead of an internal one. Always blaming the situation. Of course in many ways that’s easier. NOT! All it does is to put off the work that needs to be done. And trust me, there will always be another opportunity to confront the issue. The issue is not them or the job-the issue is why am I always in this situation? What is it in me that is attracted to a person or situation that is not healthy for me? Why is that a comfortable place for me-even in my discomfort? Why is dealing with the why scarier than being in a bad situation?
One theory is because the bad situation is a known factor. For instance, a woman who has an abusive partner. The partner comes home every night, drunk and abuses her-verbally, physically. The next morning that same partner is apologetic-sends her flowers during the day. Why doesn’t she leave? Well, it’s not so bad. She has a nice house, friends that she doesn’t want to know (which they probably do), a nice car, maybe standing in the community. And, it’s not so bad-and he’s nice most hours of the day. Putting up with that abuse is less scary than facing the unknown. Then leaving. Then delving into her own psyche as to why she would be in this situation.
Drinking is the same. While I had the 3 am regrets, I also often started that whole cycle of regrets while drinking-while drunk. Even while drunk, I would be thinking about quitting. Needing to quit. Wanting to quit. Promising to quit. Until the next afternoon, when it would all fly out the window.
What changed? I think several things. For one thing, I think I was able to release the pain that I carried in me for so long. The pain that I wanted to numb out and medicate from. Oh I didn’t think of it as pain while I was drinking a nice dry Sancerre out of an expensive glass! I thought I was unwinding, enjoying being with friends, getting a buzz before dinner-I thought anything and everything except that I was trying to retreat from MySelf. I think that I realized that the reasons for my pain were no more prevelant in my life.
I read so many blogs where people have so many Day Ones. Some without having even a Day Two. Using so many excuses as to why they weren’t able to go ONE DAY-24 hours without drinking. Not even 24 hours when you factor in sleep time. So many people who aren’t able to allow their system to be free of alcohol. So many people who can’t take the steps to do whatever it takes to not drink that day. Forgetting the promises they made to themselves that morning. So scared of facing their pain. Afraid of knowing who they are. Afraid of facing life without alcohol. While it would be easy and is easy to get frustrated with these people and question their sincerity and intent to quit, at the same time, my heart goes out to them. For continuing to live a shackled life in spite of they fact that they have the keys for freedom. In spite of the fact that there are many, many people reinforcing all of the good things that occur with sobriety and many ways to acheive it.
I don’t take this sobriety for granted. I am grateful for it every day. I am grateful for it everytime I see a drunk person-or a person who has all of the physical attributes of a heavy drinker. I am grateful for it every morning when I wake up without a hangover or regret. I am grateful for it when I observe someone in a restaurant getting antsy because their bottle of wine isn’t arriving quickly enough. My SO is grateful for my sobriety as well. He likes the less expensive nights out. He likes that he doesn’t have to prop me up as we are leaving somewhere. He likes that I am totally present during intimate moments. He likes that he doesn’t have to repeat whole episodes of a series that we may be watching because I was too drunk to remember that we had already watched it.
But, what I am most grateful for is that this is a lesson that I, hopefully, won’t have to repeat again. And even more than that, I am grateful that I have been able to have overcome the pain that started it all.