You would think that after nearly four years sober the desire to have an alcoholic drink would have gone away, sitting in a bar must be easy, I have mastered the art of being sober.
I wish I could say that to you. But the last few months have been a struggle. I have wanted a drink, felt FOMO, cried a little inside at the realisation that I would like to be a ‘normal’ drinker.
I recognise all of this and, thanks to being sober, I am at least able to analyse what is going on. Rationalise and resist!
So what is going on?
I have been stressed a bit. As we steer Club Soda through uncharted waters I am beginning to feel the strain. I suspect this amplifies the situation.
My brain wants a reward for things being hard and sometimes disheartening. It remembers alcohol and how good that was. The memory is finding chinks in my armour. Instead I eat cake. But I eat it like I drank. Making the same excuses as to why I deserve it. Thinking about convenient ways to steer the whole team towards cake to justify my need!
So whilst I don’t give in to the temptation to drink, I am seeing old patterns re-emerge. I now know my triggers better than ever before.
Jokes and acts of rebellion have often been part of my way of talking about difficult issues. I enjoy the fact that I can joke about my drinking and my sobriety. That I can put new members of Club Soda at ease because whilst we appreciate the serious nature of the problem, we can still be human and laugh. I enjoy sitting next to people drinking and not partaking. I feel strong and defiant when I try a tiny sip of a friend’s cocktail, because I am interested in what it tastes like and don’t want any more.
It allows my friends the comfort of not worrying about drinking around me. Knowing that I need no special treatment. But it also masks the fact that occasionally that bravado is not enough, that not every event with alcohol involved is the same. It can vary depending on how I feel inside.
Recently, a friend ordered wine for himself at dinner (not a problem), but he did what he does so beautifully: described the wine, the region, the tannins, the taste, as he always does. Just as he did when we used to go drinking together, and especially when we used to want to justify another bottle of wine. Happy memories flooded back. Coupled with a general state of weariness, this created a very physical craving. I wanted a drink. I wanted to cry for wanting a drink.
I held it back and focused on dessert.
Our reactions, the way we deal with cravings will be different from person to person. If you’ve taken a month, or any time off booze, you’ve started to learn a little bit more about you. With this knowledge, you can start to personalise the tactics you use to stick to your goals:
Go back to our Planning Sucks booklet, and use the tools there to plan how you may execute your moderation, or quit for good.
Don’t only decide your tactics, but also how you are going to set those goals and track whether you’re succeeding. Club Soda is a great place to check in and monitor your goals.
Is there an area of your life you are still hoping to improve? Will cutting down on alcohol help with it? How will you see the changes?
Are there people you may need to avoid, and do you need to find new cheerleaders?
Do you need to create a new survival quit? For example, if you want to stop after a certain number of drinks, do you need something to make sure that happens?
Like everything in life, you won’t always get it right first time. Consider this a learning process about what works for you and what doesn’t; or another stage in your personal experiment. After all, the aim of doing this is to change your life in a positive way. Remind yourself often about why you are doing this. And good luck, whatever your plans are going forward, do keep in touch with Club Soda for more useful resources.
You can now purchase our first ebook How to go dry this January (and make it stick): Cut down, stop for a bit, quit or stick on Amazon for only £3.99! All the funds from these sales go straight back into making Club Soda better for its growing community.