By Beth Leipholtz – www.thefix.com
At the end of the day, I am equipped with the tools I need to confront an array of emotions, and none of those tools involve picking up a drink.
Alcoholics wouldn’t be alcoholics if they didn’t want to drink every now and then, even after they’ve become somewhat established in sobriety and have a few years under their belts.
For me, it’s part of the disease to often wish I could be like “normal” people and go out, have a few drinks, then come home and have all be well with the world.
But realistically, that isn’t what would happen if I drank. I wouldn’t have a “few” drinks. I’d have lots and lots of drinks, and it would soon become quite clear why I stopped drinking. So when this feeling of wishing I could drink creeps up on me, I have a few go-to pieces of encouragement to keep me sober.
1. “It’s not worth it.”
This is probably my most common go-to when I need to quiet that little voice in my head. Whatever it is that makes me feel like I want to drink, I can guarantee it wouldn’t be worth it. Drinking in celebration? Not worth it. Drinking over anger? Not worth it. Over heartbreak? Still not worth it. The reality is that no reason is worth taking my sobriety. If I drank, I would wake up feeling so disappointed in myself, to the point that I would probably resort to drinking to cover it up. And so the vicious cycle would begin again. At the end of the day, I am equipped with the tools I need to confront an array of emotions, and none of those tools involve picking up a drink.
2. “This is temporary.”
Whatever “this” is, whatever the root of my desire to drink is, it will pass. When I feel like something couldn’t possibly improve, I remind myself how hopeless and helpless I felt in my first few weeks of sobriety and how, after a few months, getting sober turned into the best thing that ever happened to me. I tell myself that if I could overcome feelingthat despaired, I can overcome any other emotion or obstacle with time.
3. “You stopped drinking for a reason.”
It’s true, I did. All I have to do is think back to all the bad choices I made, the words I drunkenly said, and the relationships I came close to ruining. And just like that, I no longer have a desire to down a drink. I’d rather keep myself in check and be the sober one than be the drunk one and ruin the night. I ruined enough nights, and that is why I stopped drinking when it came down to it.
4. “Do you really want to deal with hangovers again?”
That’s an easy one: no. Not even a little. My hangovers were the worst. If I had a really bad one, I would vomit numerous times throughout the day. Even if it was a mild one, my head still pounded and I shook constantly. I don’t want any of that back in my life. I prefer waking up clearheaded and ready to take on the day without constantly feeling sick to my stomach. You really don’t realize how debilitating hangovers are until you stop having them.
5. “Think about having to own up to what you did.”
The last thing I ever want to do is have to tell the people in my life that I relapsed. Though I’m sure they would still love and support me, I just can’t handle the thought of the disappointment that would follow a statement like that. No matter what mistakes I may have to own up to in the future (and I’m sure there will be many), I want them to be sober mistakes.
6. “Remember how you looked when you were drinking?”
Conjuring up this image isn’t fun for me. There’s a picture of me from the very last night I ever drank, and it still haunts me to this day. My skin has a yellow tint to it, I look bloated beyond belief, and my hair is a disaster. Yet, I didn’t notice any of this at the time because I was too caught up in drinking. Today, I am a few pounds heavier than I was then, but it’s settled differently. I have a glow back that I lacked while drinking. I feel alive again. I never, ever want to go back to looking like the person I was when I was drinking. For some reason, picturing that girl is enough to deter me from thoughts of alcohol.
7. “Remember that one time you ___________?”
Sadly, I could fill in that blank with so many instances, none of which I want to relive. But if I drink, there’s a chance I could relive any of them. When I drink, I make bad decisions and embarrass myself and others. Sometimes all it takes is thinking about that one time I split my knee open, or that time I pulled down my pants and peed outside, or that time I went home with a stranger (the list goes on). None of those instances would be acceptable in my life today, and reminding myself of that is enough to keep me sober.
8. “You’re an adult now.”
If I went back to drinking, I’d drink the way I did in college. I know I would. And in college, people can find a little bit of forgiveness for that type of behavior because, well, it’s college. But now I am a professional. I work in a small-ish town, in a pretty public field, and if I were to go out and drink, I would most likely run into someone I know or who knows me. In college, my drinking was detrimental to every aspect of my life. Now, as an adult with a full-time job, it would be even more so.
9. “You’ll thank yourself tomorrow.”
If I drink, I never know where I’ll end up in the morning or how I will feel. But if I don’t drink, I can guarantee that I’ll end up at home, in my bed, feeling great. In the morning, I’ll know I made the right choice and have another sober day ahead of me. And nothing feels better than that.
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