Almost two years ago, I quit drinking… for good.
I know many in recovery take it “one day at a time,” and I do too. But I don’t allow the possibility of ever drinking again enter my thoughts.
So I always say, “I quit drinking. Forever.”
Being sober is now foregone conclusion for me, like someone with a severe allergy to peanuts–they don’t say, Well maybe I’ll have just one.
The peanut is a hard never.
The martini, for me, is a hard never.
Sometimes people read my sobriety posts and they say, “Well, I don’t have trouble not drinking.” Maybe not… but what do you have trouble with? What is your addiction? I have found that most people have something. Especially in the sport of triathlon–it’s a sport of addicts, in many ways.
When I gave up booze two weeks before Christmas in 2015, I wasn’t sure on the timing. Afterall, who tackles that kind of thing during the holidays?
Over the last several years, though, I have learned there is steep value to the “now or never” proposition. There is value in the “right now” and “let’s go, immediately.”
Plus, the pain of drinking for me was greater than the pain of suffering through Christmas sober, in my thoughts and detoxing.
(And trust me–my thoughts was like the Dark Forest on The Princess Bride. It was full of landmines and lies.)
As New Year approached in 2015, and I sat at the fancy pants restaurant where I had spent many a dollar on several Grey Goose Martinis up with olives, I struggled.
I struggled hard.
But I had decided that I was never going to drink again–to me, that was as true as the sky is blue today.
Yesterday, at Thanksgiving, I struggled too. The struggle doesn’t go away, I don’t think. I am certain it never will.
My late grandmother quit smoking on my birthday when I was four or five. She quit, and never looked back. My other family members struggled, I think–though they all are non-smokers now–but I remember she just decided, and that was it.
Something about her resolve stuck with me.
When I knew I had quit drinking, I knew that was it.
I chose to quit drinking weeks before the New Year for many reasons.
- Starting a New Year hungover, with the promise of not drinking on the evening of January 1, had lost its appeal to me. I thought, “What if I woke up and felt good on New Years?”
- I also knew that detox was a process–that I needed to get a jump on it.
- I asked myself, “What are you waiting for?” The perfect time? The perfect life? None of that is ever going to happen.Then I remembered that I had applied this same logic to triathlon when I began.I didn’t wait until I had “lost all the weight” or I “looked like a triathlete” —I just started. And it’s a good thing I did, because I would still be waiting. I still have not lost all my weight, and I don’t look like a triathlete.
- It made me a badass. At least in my mind. Stopping a sinister habit at this time of year was like tackling an IRONMAN. It would require extra resolve, courage and strength—and that was something I needed at the time. I felt like a failure, full of guilt and regret from all the years of drinking. To do something brave and challenging, and to be determined to succeed at it… that was something I needed.
I always said if I could share my story and it mattered to one person, it was worth the 2.2+ million words I have written over the last decade.
So here’s to you. A sparkling-water-type of cheers.
Do you have something that is nagging you? Do you have an addiction, a fear, a problem that must change?
I challenge you to start now. To take charge of your life now, and start making plans to make it happen for you.
After Thanksgiving in 2015, I picked a date that I would quit. I had the Expert’s work holiday party on December 11th, and I had my last drink that night–a day I knew I had coming. I also signed up for a half marathon to run on December 13th.
I made plans, and I kept the promise to myself.
Do I miss drinking?
Yes. I miss these things: the moments of the first drink, the warm rush of the booze, and the eventual and utter escape that happened when I was blitzed out of my mind.
The problem with that?
That’s not living. The regret, the pain, the mistakes, the money lost, the self-loathing, the health problems… all for a warm rush and an escape?
On the balance scale of life?
There was a gross inequality.
And I knew it.
If you are struggling, you know it too. We don’t need an intervention. We don’t need anyone to tell us we are headed for a freefall, followed by a crash.
The question is: why are we hanging on to the addiction? Why are we bargaining with ourselves?
I don’t know why.
But I know the freedom of a voice in my head without that bargain is true escape, true freedom. And I am grateful for every single damn sober day that I no longer have to bargain with myself about just one, or I will quit tomorrow, or I can have just two at the party and drive home.
Life on the other side of the bargain is better.
I am prayerful that anyone who reads this and feels a tug will know you that you are not alone. I am here for you, if there’s ever anything you need. I am an email away. I’m not a psychologist or trained professional, but I am a person who has lived it. And I am here for you there.
We have a wonderful FREE sobriety group called “Grateful Sobriety” — come join us. It’s not a program, just a group of over 200 supportive individuals. Read more here.
Love to you all,
A big thanks to HipSobriety.com for the Hip Sobriety Manifesto.
“1. You do not need to hit rock bottom…
4. It’s not a sad consequence. It’s a proud choice…
5. You need a holistic approach. It’s not about just cutting out the addiction or “just stopping”. It’s also about what led you to the addiction in the first place and what keeps you going back to it. To truly break from addiction – without transferring it to something else or just white-knuckling through it – you need to address the drivers that led you to it in the first place, and the addiction and related complications. Furthermore, you need to develop an entire arsenal of healthy coping mechanisms to use in place of the shitty ones you are using now. There is no one silver bullet here. To truly be free, you must holistically address the underlying cause and the addiction.
9. Your hangovers go away. Your social life doesn’t…
11. You’re not weak or powerless.”
For those of you who might be struggling, please know that you are not alone.
Do not be afraid to ask, seek, look and reach out for help. I’m also here if you want to chat, or confess, or just need someone to talk to. And I really do mean that.
SMART and SMART Friends and Family
(*I am not a psychologist or health care provider, and am not pretending to be. Just sharing some links, some stories and some struggles/successes. Feel free to add your own links, comments or other that might be more helpful in the comments below.)