I go on a lot about brain-retraining in early sobriety... how we need to really embrace the reality of a sober life by actively working inside our grey-matter to turn our thinking around. How we need to actively challenge every hard-wired belief that for years has told us that booze is the magical ingredient that makes any occasion special.
It took a huge amount of effort when I started living sober to not feel hard done by because I couldn't relax with a glass of merlot at 5pm, because I couldn't refresh myself on a hot afternoon with an icy cold beer, that I couldn't raise a toast with champagne, that I couldn't bond with girlfriends over a Chardonnay, that I couldn't have fun at a party without numerous tequilas.
The method I worked on (developed with the help of this book and this one) was to focus really clearly on all of the many other factors inherent in an event that weren't about what liquid was in my glass. So I'd clearly and consciously make a mental list about all of the things that were good in a moment or event.
I'd think to myself that relaxing was about being finished work for the day, putting on comfy pants and lighting a scented candle.
I'd remind myself that being refreshed was about re-hydrating and taking a well-earned break after some exertion or exercise.
I'd concentrate on the fact that raising a glass in a toast with others was about human connectedness, joy and celebration.
I'd focus on the fact that bonding with girlfriends was about female companionship, camaraderie, support and love.
And I'd hone in on the fact that having fun at a party was about being out socialising, great music, excellent chats, yummy nibbles and dancing!
And slowly over time as I relaxed, bonded, celebrated and refreshed myself without booze I realised all my hard-wired beliefs were BULLSHIT! I started seeing clearly that alcohol is a drug that mimics genuine feelings .. and experiencing those feelings authentically was infinitely better and more rewarding!
This was the most astounding and powerful observation that I came to the more I lived sober. Feeling positive emotions in a pure form (without booze) is incredibly lovely and powerful. I have been hit with pure joy so strong it took my breath away. I've been uplifted by endorphins so natural they make me feel like I'm bursting out of my skin. And I've basked in the warm and calming glow of gentle contentment that no feeling out of a bottle has ever come close to.
This is a fundamental truth: Despite the best efforts of the alcohol industry to make us believe nothing is special without alcohol, and despite the best efforts of our own brains trying to convince us that our lives will be miserable without booze... IT'S JUST NOT TRUE.
We have everything we need to live a full, fun, exciting and rewarding life naturally inside of each and every one of us. It will never be found in a brain-bending liquid inside a glass.
Love, Mrs D xxx