the sewer, the manhole cover, and the forecast is sunny
I’ve been thinking about quitting drinking. It’s a bit like getting out from underneath a manhole cover. It’s a big, weighty thing, that threatens to slam back down on us if we aren’t careful.
When we’re in the sewer (drinking) and we’re covered by the manhole cover, well, we’re dealing with a ‘known’ state. We know that the place smells, we know the view is terrible, and that it’s dark. There’s no future. There is only regret and heartache.
When we get out of the sewer, and we stop drinking, at first we look over our shoulder, and we see the stinky sewer drinking hole. We let the manhole cover slam into place, and then we’re standing alone in the sunlight. Quite terrified. We try to explain the sewer and the manhole cover and the desperation to normal drinkers, and they don’t really understand. We slowly, block by block, day by day, begin to walk AWAY from the hole behind us. With or without tools, with or without support. With or without knowing what the fuck we’re doing.
And now there are two choices. We can continue to look behind us. See the hole again and again. Periodically test how heavy the manhole cover is. Sample the delicious aroma of the sewer. Or we can walk forward, into a place unknown, where it is forecast to be sunny with cloudy periods.
Yes. Bad crap still happens in the sunny place (kid, job, money, health-related), and yes, you might be tempted to turn around and look longingly at the sewer. You’ll think that maybe it’d be a good idea to go back there, just for a minute, cuz at least it’s dark and quiet and stinky and depressing in there.
K (day 116): “I’m still sober but sort of wishing I wasn’t. It’s funny how even though I know drinking would make things worse, I want to drink or I should say I want to check out & drinking is the only way to truly stop my mind. Treating myself to a vacation, a massage, exercise don’t stop my mind or make the stress, worry, sadness, exhaustion go away. I’m in a bad place & really trying to figure out what needs to be done to get out of it. I just don’t know how. Just had to get that out there hoping for a little relief. The good news is even though in some ways I would like to drink, for the most part I truly have no desire to drink. It’s not an option & I’m good with that.”
Belle: my dear, let me say this. turning to booze as the solution, well it really just is not a solution. It’s a very temporary pause button (manhole cover) with horrendous consequences. It’d be like turning to heroin. It just isn’t the right solution for the problem. You might need time off, help, someone to talk to, a break, to cry, to yell, to vent, to write, to run, to sleep. You may not know yet what you need to do to feel better. But with 100% certainty, slamming your hand in the manhole cover (i.e. drinking) isn’t a solution. I agree you need some solutions. You don’t need to add problems. Let’s find you a solution 🙂
From my inbox:
Susan (39): “I have been thinking a lot about why alcohol was such a pull to me … I have the memory of feeling overwhelmed and anxious and having a couple of glasses of champagne and suddenly I was happy, all that I was worried about had disappeared. When I realized this I saw that I was using something outside myself to make me happy. Somehow I felt that I couldn’t do it on my own. Then this overwhelming thought came over me… I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN HAPPINESS … I cannot express in words how this affected me. All these years I had been looking outside myself for happiness, when in truth it is me who is responsible for feeling that way. If I am stressed out at the end of the day, I have to look to the balance in my life. If things are overwhelming i have to develop the tools to deal with it. I cannot express in words how deeply this rang in me. I AM RESPONSIBLE FOR MY OWN HAPPINESS! From this place I was able to look at my drinking with compassion instead of shame. Nothing to be ashamed of … you just didn’t know … I feel free in such a beautiful simple way. I chose not to drink and instead, I choose to believe in myself.”
PP: “I am not a joiner, not an extrovert, avoid facebook, cannot see myself joining AA … common sense is with me in the morning and escapes me in the later day. Sometimes I find the days too long. Enough yammering. I signed up for your coaching class. Already this morning, in bed, I decided on my mantra for today: Today I will be sober.”
Team 100 Update:
219 members, welcome to Dawn D (9), Brett (4), and Elizabeth (3). Happy days to Leigh (7), Jen (Mommy) (7), KT (116), Paula (86), Allie (29), JG (17), Colleen (8), Mary (90), Zenmeg (49), Melinda (60), Maya June (60), Lime Tree (60), Pete (50), Liberte (7), Stargal (51), BST (31), Pam (14), Tami (20), Catkin (32) . Hooray for Elle and Leah – they both hit 100 days!
Here’s what Leah has to say: “Thank you! I was calculating a few days ago and realized I was coming up on 100. I can’t believe it! For so long I would be thinking “oh, I should probably stop drinking” but it felt impossible. Alcohol really does sap your will, make you think you can’t do without it. So it took a “hit bottom” moment — a trip to the ER — to finally make me stop. I am happy to be sober, and grateful that my “hit bottom” moment didn’t involve any permanent damage. But lately I find myself not wanting to look back anymore, shying away from memories from when I was drinking. Now that not drinking is “normal” I find myself wanting to forget that I ever did anything else. I think that’s a mistake — both because I think it’s important to remember why I never want to go back, and because it makes me feel less happy and proud of myself for being able to give it up. I think both of those things are important. Anyway, I also want to thank you. Coming across your 100 day challenge happened at just the right time, and I love the community you’ve created at your blog. And I am so glad you are expanding your blog to start a coaching business and classes. You are a natural at it!”
</um, blushes, thanks>