Ready to quit?

from my inbox:

Rambling Rose (penpal #2512): 

"So something has been bothering me for a few weeks on the issue of readiness when it comes to being sober. I've heard on a number of occasions "in the rooms" that you just have to be really ready to quit drinking before you stay with recovery. I have heard it mostly in the context of people relapsing. It almost comes off as an accusation that he/she just didn't want it enough (recovery). Another thing I hear often is, "In your heart of hearts, do you want to quit?" UGH. YES.

There's something very flippant to me about this. I know people, myself included, who have wanted to quit for years - sincerely, in our heart of hearts - and hate being in addiction/excessive drinking limbo. It hurts. It isn't even enjoyable. It's not to "feel better" - for me, it was to feel less bad. But, of course that less-bad feeling starts to turn into a consistent and repetitive horror.

Drinking is the worst kind of hell, and it isn't that I (the true me) wanted to keep drinking, not when it got bad. I just didn't know how to stop it. I think that's why we surrender or reach out, because of course our brains will want booze.

I've brought it up to people (sponsors, sober women, etc.) before, and I usually get the same answers about not wanting it bad enough or not having some God moment where all of my sins, er, sorry, cravings (hah) were magically lifted.

It scares me when people say things like this, because I do want to stay sober, with all of my heart. But there hasn't been some God moment or change in my thinking. Not yet. Isn't that where the work and the supports come in?

Anyway. What made you know that you were totally done for good?

Do you think it is different for everyone?

Thanks. Whew, good to get that out of my head. It was upsetting me today, and kind of freaking me out."

me: I think that the idea of readiness is sort of like the idea of willpower. it’s assuming that the tool is in us. I think that the tools are outside us and that if someone is relapsing, they don’t have enough tools/supports/accountability. Us alone in our heads has us all drinking, me included.

but with the right amount of supports (different for each person) we can do this sober thing.

the challenge is getting people to try different supports when the original ones aren’t (or have stopped) working. we’re so stubborn and wolfie wants to keep us stuck, so that’s the hardest part of this. it’s not that rehab doesn’t work, it’s that no one wants to go. it’s not that antabuse doesn’t work, it’s that it’s hard to convince someone to take it because if they take it they can’t relapse and wolfie hates that. wolfie will argue against most supports.

wolfie wants you alone at home with a bottle. that’s the challenge as far as I can see: helping people to see that wolfie is bullshit and that there’s sunshine OUT HERE.


​You might not agree with my advice to Rambling Rose. How do you feel about being 'ready'? Post a comment below.

Feedback from the new (free) meditation audio series:

Auntie Briggy: “Love this! Meditation is one thing for me that needs to be non-negotiable part of my tool box! You did a great job - meditation is just like sobriety - some days are shit and you don't pay attention for 2 seconds - some days you feel refreshed after but you keep staying with it. It was great to hear you doing something outside your comfort zone and trying a new tool! It teaches us courage to do things like this - try things - and keep trying them and adding things in.” Listen here.


I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • I think, as you also said you know in your heart of hearts when enough is enough, and for me I have done this a good few times and fallen, but somehow this time feels different, the saying goes we should learn from our mistakes and most times we need to make mistakes to come back stronger. As for tools as many as you can put in place definitely helps and with technology these days it’s so much easier to reach out for help….even writing this now is a great help for me, one day at a time…30 days sober, life is good x

  • And I think the how is different for everyone. Some of the tools will be internal and some will be external and some will be a combination of both. And different tools will be needed at different times as we change and progress.The old story of the many paths to Rome. And if nothing is working, to keep searching until we find something that does because it is out there or in there, we just haven’t found it yet.

  • For me, no day was ever the “right day” to quit, which meant EVERY day was the right day. Which meant that if I was thinking about it again for the thousandth time, that that day right then and there was the right day. And I finally realized that thinking about it for the thousandth time over years and years of trying to moderate meant I would *never* “just cut back”. I could moderate for a day, two at most, before I went on a reflexive, reactionary, rebellious binge. It would never change until I died, unless I dealt with it. I had to deal With it or die With It. DEAL with it or DIE with it. Probably even die OF it–of a perfectly preventable, unforced error–and what stupider and more shameful way to waste the only life I had??? To live with that identity and that shame until it killed me, to become just another statistic because I didn’t have the courage to simply quit a bad habit??? Ugh, no!!

    It was like ending a toxic relationship–just deciding one day, at 10:29 am or 3:47 pm as I’m driving around doing errands or reading sobriety blogs at work or whatever, that my last drink was the night before. That I’d already quit, that drinking was simply no longer an option. Putting “The Change” in the past made it easier to swallow, and made the future suddenly about health and pride rather than hangovers and shame.

    I still kept my nightly rituals, because I realized that was half the issue–I just swapped alcoholic beer for ginger beer, and halepeno limeade with fizzy water for wine. (And flavored selzer water. And vitamin water. And “shrubs”–sweetened vinegar mocktails. And chocolate. And pizza. And and and *anything* other than booze.) Sure I get mopey sometimes about missing certain flavors, and I won’t deny I miss that instant escape, but that’s when I put on my big-girl panties and remind myself that *mopey beats hungover any day!!!* It’s no different than any other food restriction. Life is still life and can be stressful, but now that I come to each day feeling rested and proud of myself rather than exhausted and ashamed, the miracle is that I feel that need to escape *far less often.* The thing I was using to escape was actually *causing* a lot of the stress I was trying to escape from! I never found pride in a bottle.
    I never ever ever ever wake up wishing I *had* drunk the night before. Now I can actually move forward on fixing problems, developing good habits, and pursuing hobbies. I have traction where before I was just treading water because I was *always* either tipsy or hungover.

    The best analogy I have, and the one that has gotten me through the worst cravings, is ending a bad relationship. Yeah there were aspects that kept me in it for a long time, benefits I got, and things I miss now–but the drawbacks outweighed the benefits, and at a certain point enough was enough. The unknown future–whatever it held–had to be better than the known present. I’ve kicked that relationship to the curb, and now there’s no F’ing way I’m going to let it back in my life no matter how much it pleads. Nope, nope, nope, I’m done, it’s over, it’s simply not an option any more. It does NOT have my best interests in mind, it does NOT care about what it does to me. Alcohol is a narcissistic psychopath and I’ve wasted enough of my life on it. Any life without it is better than life with it.

    Sure, being sober doesn’t make life a bed of roses, and it comes with its own challenges…but what doesn’t? It’s just a matter of which stress you want to deal with. I’d rather deal with the stress of sobriety than the stress of drinking. Simple as that.

  • Ah yes, being ready—more like jumping off a cliff. But realizing that it’s not that far from yesterday. Then you walk forward with a bottle of water and good shoes. You look around and listen to the birds or the street sounds. You notice your body is still you without all that guilty blight flowing in your veins and embedded in your skin. At night you sleep maybe the best sleep in years, or you don’t. You stay occupied by reading, taking a bath, calling a friend who is awake around the world, you write a note to Belle. Read what others say and know these are your people. They are walking the road, sitting and seeing the beauty of the world and the miracle of being alive. I am still walking, dropping some of the stuff on my back I don’t need. Wolfie shows his head: go on boy, bother someone else, get out. He gets. Talking to myself about the rest of it and trying to work it out. I am ready everyday. Angie, Day 47

  • For me you can feel ready but it doesn’t mean that you can do it. When I used to be a member of a forum and kept having Day 1s people would say’ you have to really mean it this time’ ‘try harder’ ‘you have to really want it’ or my favourite’ I don’t understand why you drink you just make a decision to not drink and stick to it’ all of these comments are completely unhelpful and just made me feel bad and a failure and that is not the best state of mind to help stop. I believe because of Belle and other people in the sober universe that you take the action and build on it and at some point Wolfie will be quiet and if he speaks it will be more like a whisper. I have days like that now when I can bat the thought away easily and days when the voice is loud. But I believe you keep doing the work/tools/ treats and I will get there. You can be ready to stop drinking but it doesn’t mean you know how. You can be ready to do a lot of things , take on a new job for example but it doesn’t mean you know how to do it.

  • This is one of your most relevant posts ever for me, Belle. Rambling Rose’s comments force me to think deeply about my own experience.

    I didn’t have a “God Moment” (never even heard that term before), but you know from our past communication that I have trouble understanding how people “white knuckle” sobriety. It seems too difficult if you’re “not ready.”

    But what is ready???

    I didn’t have a discrete “moment” was that allowed me to quit. It was years of waking up saying the same thing over and over: I gotta stop this. I can’t keep doing this.

    But I apparently could keep doing it. Until my life had ground to a halt.

    Was I ready? I doubt it. I was desperate. And the choice to continue doing the same thing was way scarier than trying something different. Drinking was killing me mentally, physically, and spiritually. Not drinking? I had no idea if it would help. But not finding out was no longer an option.

    There were a couple of over drinking events that preceded my last day 1. By themselves, these incidents didn’t flip the switch for me.

    However they gave me strength by first removing all of my strength. When I recognized that I was helpless against alcohol, that I had no control over my drinking I was able to find it in me to change from saying “I gotta stop this” to “I have to do something different.”

    Rose’s remarks will help me be more open minded about other’s struggle and my own. Thank you so much for sharing it.

  • I think getting sober is different for everyone. What is your bottom? What motivates you to be alcohol free? I don’t think it necessarily has to be a God moment, or a wanting it bad feeling. For me…bad doctor/blood test which show my cancer is growing again and liver enzymes are four times what they should be. HELL NO….that did it for me. No more alcohol for me today. And today is all I have. Not going to think about that trip to Ireland with my hard drinking Irish family…I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Frankly, I will plan a BIG sober treat for myself when I get back from that 2 week trip…perhaps a lovely day at the spa. Hang in there!

    • Weezie, you can do this. I was worried about a trip to Italy and all that wonderful wine. But I got through it. Since then we have been to France and Germany. Every trip gets easier. You’ve got this!

  • I went to AA for over 2 years and never “got” it as people kept telling me I would if I “ kept coming back”.
    They too talked as if it were some sort of faith experience and it was a miracle how they got and remained sober.
    Now , I do have a faith and that didn’t help me get sober. Mostly it kept me believing that one day I would do it.
    It was practical tips and tools that helped get me sober to start with.
    To keep going it has been having a relationship with someone further along and holding onto hope that it will get easier. I wouldn’t say being sober is all sunshine but it is definitely a much more real and genuine experience of life.
    I certainly wouldn’t want to go back to drinking daily. Thankfully that feeling of hopelessness and self loathing has gone.

  • The sober tools are definitely key in staying sober. If I do something(s) everyday for my recovery that is ideal.