This guest post comes from Anna, a writer who lives in Christchurch. She shared her Sober Story with us, here.
Anna: I know, an alcoholic can’t say it’s forever. One day at a time. But, that is my daily choice. My promise. Never drinking again is a gift to myself that I will never let go of.
I haven’t had any alcohol for seven years. The closest thing to it was laughing gas during a stint in hospital and, I’m not going to say I didn’t like it. I drank a lot from age 18 to 35. I worked, I had a family, and I drank. For the last 10 years of that, I wanted to and tried firstly to cut down, and then to give up. I didn’t do either for any length of time. I couldn’t.
I was only able to stop drinking for good when I asked myself this question:
Can I continue to drink AND have a happy life?
The answer was no. Had always been no. The guilt, the anxiety, the constant bargaining and rationalising made me hollow. I could not experience anything sober or drunk with any authenticity because of the addictive soundtrack that played on loop; loudly interrupting every thought with its poisoned agenda.
And there were the people who got hurt, or who worried for me.
And my health.
The wording of the question is important.
I did not ask if it’s possible to drink and have a happy life. It probably is for some people. I asked whether it’s possible for ME.
And the only reason I knew the answer is because I had tried all the things. I knew I couldn’t cut down. I knew I couldn’t just drink on the weekends. I knew I couldn’t hide it, and I knew I couldn’t accept that was who I was.
I acknowledge that asking that question was not the only thing that made it possible to make the change. I had all of these things available to me:
- The unwavering support of my partner that came without pressure
- Access to AA meetings and the time to attend
- Enough money to pay for counselling, books, and other tools to help me
- A network of friends and family that did not resist the change
Those things had always been there but asking the question and knowing the answer gave me the desire to take advantage of those resources and enlist the help of my family.
So I stopped. It wasn’t a rock bottom morning. I’d had so many sickening, anxiety-ridden, life-is-not-worth-living, self indulgent day afters; but this wasn’t one of them. It was a Tuesday and I just stopped.
I went to AA every day for the first few weeks and I sat in that cold church meeting room and cried. Nobody dared ask me to tell my story. Those were tears of regret, and of relief.
Now, I am happy to talk about it if someone asks. When I am out and the subject comes up I say “I don’t drink, I haven’t for a long time.” There is always, without fail, at least one person who says “Wow, I need to do that.” Often there is more than one. Drinking causes pain and it gets the better of so many of us.
Stopping drinking did not fix everything — but it gave me a fighting chance.
I am not always happy. Hard things still happen. There have been times of heartbreak when my addictive brain tapped me on the shoulder and whispered: “You know this situation is pretty bad, you could have a drink now and people would understand”.
And I say: “I don’t drink — because if I do I can never be happy.”