There’s something almost magical about coming up for air after spending long winter months under the heavy blanket of seasonal depression. When June rolls around, even after 19 years of sobriety, I start to hear the familiar, ever-so-seductive whisper of Maybe. Maybe my years of abstinence have proven I never really had a problem. Maybe I’m okay now. Maybe I can drink again.
Here are some of the brilliant lies and realizations I’ve come up with over the years.
#1 I miss drinking.
Sometimes I do mourn blissful ignorance, but there is very little about my years of drinking I actually miss.
I do not miss hangovers or having to ask someone to walk me through the previous night’s events. I also appreciate waking up next to a man I recognize every morning, and knowing exactly where my car is parked.
Deduction: Even if I do sometimes miss drinking, I do not ever miss the consequences that almost always resulted.
#2 I could probably just have one and it would be no big deal.
Okay, this one might be true.
I might be able to have just one drink tonight, be super proud of myself for beating the odds of alcoholism, and maybe even go to bed without anything catastrophic happening. I’ve heard many stories over the years of people doing just that. Unfortunately, many (not all) of those stories continue with two very important words that I must keep in the forefront of my mind.
I imagine my excitement over the ability to have just one drink and go to bed might last for a week… while I fancied how many nights a week I could put the kids to bed and have one.
And then… perhaps after an especially horrific day, the wait might be too much, and I would decide it okay to put them to bed a little early. I might even justify this with all sorts of rationale regarding how tired they must be after their long day at school, but really it will only be so I can have my one drink and go to bed.
Given how quickly my priorities shift when I drink, I’d be willing to bet it wouldn’t take long for me to experiment with a two glass rule, and I’m sure the glass would also get larger. Perhaps it would take years for things to get as progressively bad as they were in 2000, but I know in my heart they would.
Deduction: One drink usually leads me to another, and the desire to be shitfaced as often as possible ruins my life.
#3 I have my shit together now! I’m married, own a house, and have two cars in the driveway. Things are different. I’m different.
The truth is, the only reason I have shit to rub together today is because I got sober. I don’t “do” relationships when I’m drinking – mostly because they get in the way of my drinking, so I can’t imagine my marriage lasting very long.
Plus, I often forget how to be faithful when I’m drunk, and predict that to be a rather substantial deal breaker for my husband. The house? Will most likely be awarded to him in the divorce, because he’ll be the one with full custody of our children. I don’t play mom very well when alcohol is an option; and I have very little desire to.
I am different – because sobriety forced me to take a look at myself and take responsibility for the choices I was making.
My life was a mess because, until I got sober, I chose alcohol over action that could have made it better.
Deduction: If I want to keep my shit together, stay married, and continue an active role in the lives of my children, drinking is a terrible idea.
#4 I could always just get sober again if my drinking turned into a problem.
I have many friends who decided to drink after years of sobriety, with this very thought. Some of them found they could do it, some have managed to renew their sobriety (after years of trying desperately) and some of them have not.
Getting sober is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Truthfully, I’m not sure I could do it again.
Deduction: If I don’t want to risk never finding sobriety or losing another 10-20 years of my life, drinking is a terrible idea.
#5 I have an incredible relationship with God today – a power greater than alcohol. It’s possible I won’t get so lost if I drink now… because I have a spiritual solution.
This thought usually makes me laugh out loud. When I drink, I choose drinking over pretty much everything in my life. Alcohol provides a false sense of security and becomes my solution for everything. I quickly lose faith in all things that do not offer me instant gratification, and lean on alcohol.
Deduction: If I wish to continue my great relationship with God (and literally everyone else in my life), drinking is a terrible idea.
#6 I’ve grown up A LOT since I had a problem with alcohol, and I’m probably mature enough to handle the responsibility now.
See #3. I was 22 when I got sober, but had the maturity of a 15 year old girl. I was 15 when I started drinking. Coincidence? Probably not.
When I think about my life back then, I feel tired. I remember how exhausting it was to balance all the things that I had to do (ie. parent, work, adult) and the things I wanted to do (get wasted, let loose, avoid responsibility).
I like my life today. Maybe that’s because I’m sober, maybe it’s not. Either way, I’m not willing to start a fire I’m not sure I can control because I own a lot of flammable shit.
Deduction: If I don’t want a 15 year old girl running my life into the toilet, while whining and crying because adulting is so hard, drinking is a terrible idea.
#7 Other people get to get drunk and still live great lives. *crosses arms and stomps foot* IT’S NOT FAIR!!!
See? Even just the thought of drinking turns me into a very large toddler.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter how other people drink, how often, or what happens when they do. Experience has shown me – time and again – that enjoying my life and alcohol don’t mix.
Deduction: If I want to enjoy my life, drinking is a terrible idea.
#8 Drinking made me more fun.
I am actually not a fun drunk person. Okay, that’s unfair. For like the first ten minutes I’m a hoot. After that, I’m either incredibly obnoxious or a complete drag; depending on my mood. Quite often, the only person unaware of this, is me.
I have had way more fun since getting sober…and the kicker? I get to remember all of it.
Deduction: If I want to have friends, drinking is a terrible idea.
#9 After 19 years, I have earned it.
What I have earned in the last nineteen years is an incredible life that alcohol just doesn’t factor into anymore. Besides, “it” usually refers to that old false sense of relief and comfort I thought drinking provided. The truth is, the high prices I paid for that “relief” were never worth it.
Recovery has provided the opportunity to practice many other coping skills and tools to deal with stress, etc. that actually work. These tools do not offer immediate gratification the way alcohol did, but they also don’t result in my wanting to kill myself either.
Deduction: If I want to be happy, continue to grow, and enjoy the amazing life I have built on the foundation of sobriety, drinking is a terrible idea.
And sobriety wins another round.