Putting down the drink is just the beginning..

broken wine glass stem

I’m not sure that you can just stop drinking alcohol and make no other changes or do no other ‘work’ on yourself and expect to become happily sober.

No matter what your reasons for drinking were, or what the quantities were that you imbibed, or what you did / said / felt while you were under the influence.. the boozing has to have had some sort of deep impact on your life…yes?

So if you just take it away and don’t do any other sort of honest examination of your thoughts or feelings or lifestyle or habits or choices or anything.. is that going to lead to you being a contented non-drinker?

And if after you stop drinking you isolate yourself and don’t talk openly and honestly with people who are empathetic and understanding (either friends & family who are good listeners or other sober people) are you going to reap the great rewards that sobriety offers?

Personally I think not. Personally I think that putting down the drink is just the start… it’s what you do after you quit drinking that makes all the difference.

For me this meant being brutally honest with myself about the fact that I was an emotion avoider. It was being robust in my attempts to retrain my brain out of it’s hardwired bullshit beliefs about booze. It was being extremely active in looking for the positives in sobriety. It meant reading every recovery related book I could get my hands on, listening to numerous podcasts, watching documentaries, and reading blogs and articles. It was being dedicated about writing to myself consistently about what was going on in my head. It was opening myself up truthfully to friends and family about why I stopped drinking. It was connecting with and trusting a lovely online recovery community about the roller coaster of emotions I was on after I started living raw.

For other people it might mean they find meetings in their community to attend regularly. It might mean they seek out a therapist or counsellor sit with to get to the core of some issues. It might mean they make brave decisions about relationships or jobs. It might mean they throw themselves into an online forum like this one. It might mean they attend personal improvement courses (mindfulness? yoga? knitting?!). It might mean they attend group therapy. It might mean they take up marathon running or start a new hobby they’ve always wanted to try. It might be all of the above!!

But it has to be something. Something on top of just stopping drinking. Don’t you think?

Otherwise you’re just sitting there in your normal life with a big hole where the booze used to be. And all you can see is that hole.

Take the booze away – yes! But then fill the hole left behind with other stuff. Stuff that is going to lift you up, connect you with other humans, improve your understanding of yourself, make you feel better.

Because if you’re not drinking and you’re still miserable, chances are something else is wrong. Taking the booze away should help you to see what that wrong thing is – if you really look – and it will afford you the time and space to work on improving it.

And then, slowly over time, you will start to feel better. And then, hopefully, the wonders of sobriety will open up for you.

Love, Mrs D xxx

  1. melissa123 4 weeks ago

    I agree completely!! Although, for me, all that other stuff – therapy, running, yoga, journaling, getting honest, finding like-minded folks, happened first weirdly. THEN and ONLY then – the alcohol got thrown out. Big emotion and feeling avoider here. Feeling all the feelings has been the most eye-opening and challenging part of the whole process. Worth it all the way though!!! Thank you for this.

  2. annkarels 3 years ago

    Thank you for this post and for this community, Mrs. D. I don’t have people in my life that I can talk to about what is going on with, and I know that the Living Sober gang can and will give me that support.

  3. MsLil 3 years ago

    That is so true about filling a void when we stop drinking. It is so important to really enjoy life and do things sober – maybe even the same things you did when you were drinking but they will be so much better.
    I love painting but when I first put the booze down again I was too afraid to paint because it always led me to a drink. Now I can happily paint for hours and just love it. I am not sure why this is but it seems that I feel more connected to the paint and the process while being sober.
    I enjoy socialising sober much more as I don’t get as anxious or nervous. I don’t know why this is either but I’m guessing we are our authentic selves without booze and this means we are content with who we are and what we are doing.

  4. Cheryl Peters 3 years ago

    I have just started c this journey and have slipped a couple of times. I bring up my 2 grandchildren with my partner. We both drink to much and I know for me it’s getting out of control. I never start before 6pm but then it’s catch up so drink very fast. Bei g told on a regular basis by my grandson that I was drunk again made me want to drink more. Waking in the morning not remembering how I got bed and often wetting myself in my sleep. Things have to change so here I am finally being truthful to my self that I have a drinking problem. I have read some of the messages on here and it is very inspiring.

    • freedom1025 1 month ago

      Such a great post! After I quit drinking, your blog, this place (the BEST support site ever), and podcasts like the Bubble Hour and Soberful taught me so much. I am extremely grateful that I quit drinking – best gift I could ever given myself.

  5. starfish46 3 years ago

    Relapsed badly feel disgusted with myself attending a support group next week

  6. Fuckedifidont 3 years ago

    This is exactly what I need to read right now. I drank last night after 7 weeks sober because of “the void”. Didn’t enjoy it at all, woke up with the fear so bad I lay in bed absolutely dreading the day ahead of me. Drink is not an option any more. It will suck the life out of me. But, I will still miss it…. So I just rang a friend and suggested we start running together. She’s up for it, we’re starting tomorrow. I’ve reached out to someone and chose a void filling activity. ThankMrs D this is exactly what I needed to read today.

  7. Fuckedifidont 3 years ago

    This is exactly what I need to read right now. I drank last night after 7 weeks sober because of “the void”. Didn’t enjoy it at all, woke up with the fear so bad I lay in bed absolutely dreading the day ahead of me. Drink is not an option any more. It will suck the life out of me. But, I will still miss it…. So I just rang a friend and suggested we start running together. She’s up for it, we’re starting tomorrow. I’ve reached out to someone and chose a void filling activity. Thanks @Mrs D this is exactly what I needed to read today.

  8. DavidFS 3 years ago

    I feel like what’s needed to fill the hole is a changing thing and what was working yesterday (and I thought, yes, that’s the answer) often is not quite the same today. I suppose a good analogy for me is, when I first bought my motor home I rushed out and filled it with all the things I thought I would need in my new life but over the last few years I have slowly replaced most of what I first bought for the things I learnt I really needed. The hole is huge and filling it, a mammoth task. Sometimes I want to fill it now all at once but as I’ve been told over and over, it’s the journey that’s important, not the destination.

    • RSW 4 weeks ago

      Well said @davidfs especially about the day to day changes.

    • soberlynn 4 weeks ago

      You’ve hit the proverbial nail on the head with your response @DavidFS. I’m finding more often what doesn’t fill the void, than what does. What I know for sure is that alcohol is not part of the equation.

  9. Hellsbells 3 years ago

    I became increasingly isolated through all the time I spent home alone with wine, or hungover. I have had to face up to the fact that a lot of my personal and professional relationships were strained and some had ended badly because of my drinking. Being sober has let me love and respect people again all of the time, not just when I happen to be neither drunk or hungover. Shocking, that I let this happen. There is a lot to face up to, you are right.

    • andrewchew 3 years ago

      Yeah I feel the same I definitely fucked up some relationships. Facing that was not pretty. Not knowing if those relationships can even be repaired…is worse…but it’s part of the whole living raw things right? And taking responsibility for one’s actions. That to me is the really rough part of all this.

  10. VictoriaII 3 years ago

    Thank you…this gives me a lot to think about. And, yes, maybe yoga!

  11. nevertooold 3 years ago

    I have personal experience with this. My nephew entered rehab and, as far as I know, never drank again. Unfortunately, giving up drinking left a huge hole in his life that he never managed to fill. His depression was so obvious, but he refused to get help and, tragically, chose to end his life. Cautionary tale, thanks Mrs. D.

  12. boatlover 3 years ago

    We have been wired to hold back emotions, suck it up, pick up your bottom lip, what about all the starving children in Africa, in my day we had no shoes… you get the picture… you made your bed, then lie in it… was a favourite of my mother’s sayings. .. is it no wonder we find it hard to share … I am still working through this emotional roller coaster.. I remember the book Feel the Fear and do it anyway! Still stands true in today’s world.. thanks Mrs D ..

  13. RunnerJ 3 years ago

    Wow, yes so much I can relate to. I am working on myself and digging deep to discover things about myself that I unknowingly (or maybe knowingly) do not want to face. Saying no to my mom is hard for me to do, I don’t want to disappoint her. I am discovering that I want to work on my relationship with her, she is 84 and dealing with my dad who has dementia. When I have empathy for what she is dealing with, I am better able to understand “it is not about me” when she expresses help in picking up branches in a 3 acre piece of property that horses graze on. I don’t want to do that and I think it is not necessary, but I can see now that she is reaching out for help and asking me to come over and spend time with her. Dealing with my dad is not easy, that is the real reason she is asking for help.
    Thanks, Mrs. D !

  14. imbolc 3 years ago

    I love what you said about emotion avoider. I realised that I’m that person and have been finding it so interesting but also scary with how things are bubbling up in my head. I have just changed a position at work. This is something the old me would never have done as my life was all about wine and not much else. Hey why put yourself out there in real life when that false friend called wine will always be there for you. But now there is more time with not drinking to do those online courses I’ve been thinking of. Onwards and upwards with the new me

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