One of the lovely members of this site @behind-the-sofa recently celebrated 1 year of living alcohol-free (woo hoo!!). He posted a quirky update in the Members Feed that was essentially an interview with himself – a very clever way to extrapolate what he’s thinking and how he’s feeling after working hard on himself for a whole year. I think it’s incredibly powerful, brave and honest. He has expanded his interview slightly and is allowing me to share it here for all of us to enjoy.
– Congratulations on one year of sobriety. You must very pleased.
– Thank you. Yes, I am. I never thought it was going to be possible. I’d failed so many times before that I just didn’t think I had it in me. I thought me and drink were going to be permanently entwined.
– I understand you quit alcohol and cigarettes at the same time. What made you do that?
– For me, one led into the other. I thought the best chance of quitting either was to tackle them both together. Obviously booze was having the most detrimental and immediate effect on my health but cigarettes were also bringing me down and I’m so glad to be free of those too. Any smokers out there know what a burden it is to be a slave to those noxious little suckers.
– You say you failed so many times previously quitting booze; Why did you keep trying?
– You have to keep trying, the only other option is oblivion. I’d lost my job and was down to my last bit of money. I was too incapacitated by drink to do any other work. It was a straight choice between sobriety or oblivion for me.
– Is there no family members you could have asked for help?
– I was at a point where I wouldn’t even have gone to my family for help. I was too embarrassed about the mess that I was getting into. I would have rather slept rough than show up on their doorstep as a complete wreck.
– Why were you successful this time?
– Well, I wouldn’t say that I am successful yet. I’m not sure there will ever be a point where I can say I’ve successfully beaten drink, but that’s okay. I’ve done one year and for most of that year I’ve isolated myself. I think that’s been key to helping me stay sober. I’ve cut myself off from people and situations which trigger me to drink.
– But you can’t hide from the world forever?
– No and I don’t want to. I set myself one year as the marker. I decided to put everything else on hold for that time and focus squarely on my sobriety. Going as easy on myself as I can but now I want to take more risks and venture out into the world again. There’s a lot more that I want out of life than what I currently have.
– But you are grateful for the things you already have aren’t you?
– I’m grateful that I’m sober and that I have good relationships with my family members but there are still a lot of areas I need to work on. I still need to overcome my anxiety and I want to find a job which interests me.
– What’s been the biggest change you’ve noticed in yourself over the past year?
– I’m a lot more at ease with myself and with the world. Things don’t jolt me like they used to. I still get pissed off and frustrated but generally it takes a lot more to unhinge me. I’ve also got a lot more time for people and instead of just trying to avoid them and keep my head down I actually smile and say hello to people now.
– What advice would you give to someone trying to get sober?
– Hold on. That feeling that you can’t live without a drink or a ciggie or whatever for the next five minutes, let alone the next five months will pass. It’s not easy and you’ve got to be ruthless and pig-headed, stubborn and bloody minded. There’ll be times when you want to give up giving up. When you’re hurting so much that it doesn’t seem worth it and that you feel too weak to carry on. When it seems like your misery is going to stretch on into eternity and that sobriety is not for you. Those are the really testing times when you feel low and lonely and don’t care about anything let alone yourself anymore but if you can somehow hold on through that. Somehow hold on to even the tiniest shred of a thought that this is actually only a temporary state and things will change then it is possible to come out the other side. Unfortunately those negative feelings may resurface many times but each time you get past them you do get a little stronger even if it’s not always apparent…..There will be moments of elation too when you feel amazed at how well you’re doing and how easy it is…. they will happen… I guarantee that…. hold on for them.
– Any other advice?
– I was too shy to go and ask for help from any organization and earlier I mentioned that I isolated myself but that’s not strictly true. I was lucky to find an online support group called Living Sober and that’s given me a great sense of connectedness and has also inspired and motivated me. I think it’s possible to get sober by yourself but I also think you have a much better chance if you have a support network of some sort, whether that be something local to you or an online group.
– What are your aims for the future?
– My immediate aim is to do another year sober and see where that takes me. I’ve got high hopes for my second of year of sobriety. Now that the first one’s over I hope to kick on and accomplish some goals.
– Anything else to add?
– I’ve heard it said quite a lot by different people that, “If I can get sober, anyone can.” But you don’t believe that when you’re trapped in a boozy hell. You feel separated from normal human society and you think that you are too far gone and that you aren’t strong enough to overcome your addiction. You almost resign yourself to the fact that you need drink and that’s just the way it is. Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. You can get sober. And you can learn to live life in a much more meaningful and rewarding way. Take it from me who couldn’t even make a phone call without a drink in hand. If I can get sober, anyone can.