Step 1- Be honest with yourself.
I know that wine/beer/vodka has become your Best Friend and Lover and you do NOT really want to quit. That’s ok. I’d like to offer you a high five.
Congratulations! You are here. Right here in the present moment. If you are anything like me, you are probably hungover AF and desperately grasping for something to help end this cycle. You may hate where you are and know that is it isn’t working for you, but unsure of the next step. And truthfully, you can’t really imagine a life sober so you might have to throw your arms in the air and accept the reality that you will be a drinker, likely an over drinker, for the rest of your life. That thought is so depressing on one hand, and on the other, its sort of a relief that in just a few hours after you can struggle through your day, that glass of wine will be there at the end to tell you everything is ok. That’s all you really want. The feeling that everything will be ok.
So this day, right here, right now, turns into all the other days and by 5 pm with equal parts disappointment and delight you pour yourself your first glass of wine for today. Like magic, the headache seems to disappear and you are finally able to ignore that voice in your head that is telling you that you are not good enough.
I understand this, because alcohol was my best friend and lover too. I protected my relationship with wine above my family. I thought for sure my kids, husband, mom and best friends were all wrong and wine was all right. I fought this as long as I could. I loved my wine. Wine and my dog Rocky, were the only ones that understood me and made me feel better. Wine (and Rocky) never judged me. Wine was the answer to everything. Wine worked to solve all my problems. Wine totally worked for me. Until it didn’t. Does this sound like you too?
If you are like me, you want to defend your beloved drink over everything. Yet there is a nagging little voice inside of you that seems to be giving you a warning. One little piece of you has to admit that life seems to be getting worse instead of better. You need more (and more) of your mommy juice to get the same wave of relief. You get a little bit (or a lot) of panic if you think the bottle will run out. Or the second bottle. Or the third. No matter how many bottles you have, there never seems to be enough. There will never be enough to drink. You will always want more. This intoxicating lover of yours keeps you wanting. A small part of you wonders if you are getting brainwashed with infatuation because you keep feeling worse and worse about yourself. But wine keeps telling you everything is ok. It feels like abuse when your wine lover makes you feel so good and promises you the world and then you wake up feeling like a truck ran over you in the night.
Day after day. You drag yourself through the motions of the day feeling like absolute garbage. Come to think of it, you look like garbage too. You can barely see out of your puffy bloodshot eyes. You are so full of puff and bloat that you start to become unrecognizable, even to yourself. You hate to admit it so you shove that thought down along with the rest of them and just keep going. Don’t think too hard. Don’t let anything come between you and your drink. Its everybody else’s problem. Not yours. Over and over again.
If this sounds familiar, I have good news for you. You can jump off this ride. You can stop this groundhog day after day. Maybe you have tried before. Moderation. Of course that didn’t work or you would not be hung over reading this right now. Maybe you tried a sober experiment. Of course you went back to drinking, you white knuckled your way through 4 days sober or 7 days or 100 days to prove there was no problem and went right back to the daily drinking habit.
If this sounds like you, you are in the right place right now. There is hope. I was able to get out from under wine’s hold on me and you can too. There is a whole community of people like us. Cool, beautiful, hilarious, badass people, who no longer drink. You do not need to call yourself an alcoholic. You do not need to call yourself sober either. You don’t have to call yourself anything you don’t want. You are not alone. You do not need to think about your future of not drinking on vacation or at the upcoming event. You do not need to think about how you will tell people or your Facebook announcement. You do not need to think about what your in-laws will think. You only need to be here and getting free truly happens one step at a time. All you have to do today is hear that whisper inside that is saying “maybe I am drinking more than I am comfortable with and I would like to change that.” That’s it. Its ok.
Step 2- Sit still and pay attention.
Here’s your truth, you want to break up with your wine lover, but maybe not forever.
Congratulations again! You are still here! You are still reading. You are still seeking something better for yourself. Relax, you do not need to stop drinking right this second. Maybe you are on Day 3 of no drinking or maybe you have a glass of wine in your hand right now. Either way, its ok and kudos to you. You have decided you want to make a change and that is the biggest step.
You have already done the hardest part! I always say the hardest part of running a race, is signing up for the race. Once I am signed up, I know that I will do my training, because I am committed. You have just signed up for a life that is hangover free and now you will commit to putting in the miles to get there, one step at a time. Good job!
Do not get me wrong. Change is not easy. Our habits are strong and going back to what we are used to has a pull that is incredibly difficult to break. We naturally want what is comfortable for us. What is comfortable, is what we know. What is uncomfortable is trying something new. Sitting with discomfort is so unbearable at times that you think you will break. I have been there. I hear you. The good news is, as hard as it may be, it is possible. I can also offer some tools to help that will make it easier. The cravings will pass. You can overcome. You are reading this because you want to try something new and that is very brave. You are ready to try something different.
In order to train the alcohol mind dragon you need to take back control of your thoughts. The best way that I know how to train my thoughts is meditation. You can start your meditation practice now. You can start meditating before you stop drinking. I credit taking 20 minutes out of my day to pay attention to me as the #1 tool that helped to bring me out of my darkness and into my light.
Listening to yourself is the opposite of drinking. It is that simple. Being mindful. Paying attention.
You can do all of this and then take your drinks if you want. Something in you might shift, like it did me. After months of consistent meditation, I started to question my wine lover. I realized that maybe it wasn’t the best relationship to be in. Maybe the wine was actually hurting me more than it was helping me.
That is all you have to do right now. Commit to the anti- drinking activity, which is simply to sit still and pay attention for 20 minutes a day. You can do that.