never / forever
This is a common worry that I hear from sober penpals:
“I worry about the idea of never being able to have another drink again. I know I am better not drinking, I just don’t know how I will be able to NEVER have another drink again. Even the thought of it …”
Do you want to know what I think?
When I first quit drinking, sober bloggers would tell me that I would eventually stop thinking about alcohol.
Well, I thought they were exaggerating (or flat out lying).
I’d think, what if at some future time there’s a death – are you telling me that I won’t want to drink then?
A long-term sober girl said “yes, that’s what happened to me. My father died and I didn’t even think of drinking.”
She didn’t even think of it? Really?
Cuz when I first quit drinking, man-o-man, I thought about NOT drinking all day every day.
Does this desire really stop? Yes. It really does. No lying.
One thing that really helped me was when I finally figured out that I didn’t have to tell wolfie that I was quitting ‘forever’.
Wolfie hates the word forever. Forever just seems like too long.
And then wolfie will say something dumb like “if you’re going to quit forever, you might as well drink more now and quit forever later.”
Instead, maybe you can override wolfie and you can think about it like this (like I did):
I’m quitting drinking for now. I know I feel better without it. I know that my life is fuller when I’m sober.
That’s it. Nothing about never / forever.
When I first quit, I’d make a deal with myself to get to a certain milestone, and I’d allow myself to decide if I wanted to continue being sober or not.
Like, my first goal was to get to day 30 – and when I got there I decided to stay sober ‘a bit longer to see what happens’.
I hit 60 days sober, and something pretty weird happened. My daily mental obsession about NOT drinking had eased. Considerably.
When I became sober penpals with a squillion people, I heard day after day that they too were experiencing the same thing – something shifts after day 60 and the mental obsession eases dramatically.
Wolife pokes his head in periodically, sure, but by day 60 I was always able to say, ‘I’m not drinking for now. I have too much to do. Too many things to accomplish’.
At around 6 months, I was able to say to myself things like I’ll just stay sober for another month or so, and see how I feel then.
(By the way, I felt GREAT.)
OK, this is getting long. Let me wind things up.
Right around my one year soberversary, I figured that OK, one year is long enough, right? Maybe I’ll stop being sober now.
But by then, wolfie was pretty darn quiet. That thing that I had been promised, you know the ability to have shit happen and NOT think about drinking … I’d arrived there.
Wolfie was quiet and I had NO desire to wake him up.
So yeah, here I am today. Any time I have a weird periodic twinge where wolfie says “maybe just one glass,” I say to myself:
You’re not quitting forever. You’re quitting for now. You can drink again in 23 years when you retire.
And I have to tell you, as ridiculous as that sounds, it works for me.
Thankfully my brain is just not very smart. Wolfie says “Never?” I say, not never, just later. Wolfie says “fine.” And then I move the goalpost.
That’s how I’ve managed to get to here, 2+ years sober.
PS. The only way to really believe this entire blog post, is to hang out with sober people. Listen to what they say. Watch how they live. If you don’t have any sober friends in real life (I don’t), then you hang out with sober people online, or virtually. Like by reading this blog post 🙂 Hello, this is your virtual sober friend speaking! and getting emails from me (almost daily, called micro-emails).