I revered alcohol—I revered escape

My river trip has me renewed, refreshed, and reprioritized. Thank you to all who commented and emailed (last week’s post). The three day rule was right on schedule.

Timely, because camping at the Colorado River was one of my drinking hotspots. It, generally, fell into the life-is-great-let’s-get-drunk category. It struck me, however, how much I used to love alcohol. An alcoholic’s heaven, the Colorado River … everyone is drinking and most to excess. It was in this atmosphere that others, hopefully, didn’t notice my worship of the next chilled bottle.

For an active alcoholic revering alcohol seems ridiculous. We know that we like it, but that’s about as far as we think it through. And if we do admit we revere alcohol, it is done in jest. The impact of these words earnestly heard brings confusion, even pain. Even worse, we think it’s the alcohol we long for—it’s not. It’s the escape we so desperately crave. The drug of choice is the vehicle that gets us away.

Away from what? Whatever is so unbearable, unbelievable, uncomfortable, unknown, misunderstood, mistaken?

We label addiction: disease, disorder, dysfunction, disability. The solution, however, remains the same. If we choose to put something in our body that does not agree with our body we are making a choice to harm self. The solution is to make a conscious choice to behave differently.

All addicts in recovery were irritated with this solution. We professed our right to drink at every opportunity. That’s how much we depended on alcohol to survive. We’d spend our last breath proclaiming we did not need alcohol; we just “wanted” it every day.

The issue isn’t, should I stop drinking. The issue is, I won’t stop drinking. We won’t because we don’t have working knowledge of how truly magnificent we are alcohol and drug free.

If I have trouble stopping once I start, my solution is … DO NOT START.  I get the opportunity to find a new way to live life … alcohol and drug free. I have the chance to find a new identity, one that doesn’t include an altered mind.

I’ve yet to meet anyone who can share how alcohol enriched their live for the long run, certainly no alcoholic.  Alcoholics just keep drinking because they don’t know what else to do. Even when the stakes are high, they drink and lie, and then drink and lie some more.

If we find we are struggling to stop drinking, WE HAVE A DRINKING PROBLEM. We have an unhealthy, unnatural, unnecessary dependency on a substance. We require help. We stop pretending we don’t have a problem. We stop pretending we can manage it. We stop thinking it will get better—tomorrow. We stop hoping it will go away on its own. None of this is happening.

Are these really the most important choices I’m making today? Is this what life has come to?

  • To drink or not to drink?
  • To try and manage controlled drinking or not?
  • To profess my legal right to drink?
  • To assert my need to drink because of my situation?
  • To exclaim my happiness and celebrate with a black out?

As I drove the boat back to the launch ramp and watched the party-goers chugging I felt so happy for me. I am content in my skin today. Even after a few rough days. I would never change being present for life for a beer on the river.

A beer on the river, for a girl like me, isn’t just a beer on the river. It starts as a beer, but quickly becomes: a disagreement, rude and obnoxious behavior, sunburned and hungry kids, probably an argument or a lost boat key, and definitely a lost memory, an angry husband, and finally, a black out. And to top it all off I get to listen to you tell me what I did yesterday because I don’t remember.

Is it easy to learn to live clean and sober? No. Is it doable? Yes.

Drinking is not fun. It’s a nightmare. Your reverence for escape can end—today. Choose again.

Lisa Neumann is a recovered alcoholic, recovery coach and the author of “Sober Identity: Tools for Reprogramming the Addictive Mind”

No Responses to “I revered alcohol—I revered escape

  • Welcome Home Lisa!! What an amazing post. Thank you, for reminding me what it was like to be living a life of drinking. Sobriety, is such a wonderful gift. I do not miss alochoal in any way. Sometimes (often) I don’t like feeling.. the yucky feelings. But, I have learned it’s so much better to feel those yucky feelings then being numb with alcohol. It’s so rewarding to walk through the pain or any emotional discomfort and get to the other side… sober!! I feel reborn!! Happy, Joy, Peaceful… Even in pain or disappointment. Lisa, I say this all the time… But, You have and are teaching me how to have a new life. A new Identity. A Sober Identity. I am learning to love myself through the eyes of God. I feel happy for me. As you described how you felt driving the boat back to the launch ramp. Because I have chosen to live sober, I am content in my own skin today as well. I never want to change being present for life either…. for a beer on any given day.
    Love you!!!!

  • Growing sober isn’t for sissies. Neither is being sober while around others who are drinking. But persevering is worth it. Quite remarkable, isn’t it, when we break down our former drinking/drunk social gatherings/traditional events. Sun-burned and blacked-out doesn’t sound all that romantic and fun, does it.

    • Chris, Just last night I came across a documentary, “U.S. of Alcohol.” It shared (graphically, I might add) drinkers over Labor Day weekend and the effects of their choices. UGLY! The location … Arizona, USA. Sun burned and blacked out was going to be my best case scenario for drinking. Drown, beaten, jailed, and/or hospitalized was their fate. I’m with you, “romantic and fun”…not even close! Thanks for commenting, Lisa

  • Revered alcohol. I think a big part of quitting is losing the worship of alcohol and of escape. I think we all have to worship something, but boy it is difficult to change.

    • Yes, I agree with your comment. And change is still challenging for me. Just this morning I journaled about the “gap” I get stuck in when I am between choices. It’s not over alcohol anymore (thankfully), but the pull for old patterns is extremely strong. I addressed this subject in my book. I am still so fascinated by the subconscious mind and the lengths it goes to in keeping me locked in the pattern. Really glad you commented. You’ve got me thinking some more worthy thoughts. With love, Lisa

  • BRAVO. It’s crazy how I just kind of echoed your sentiments when you wrote: “Is it easy to learn to live clean and sober? No. Is it doable? Yes.”

    And add, Is it worth it? ABSOLUTELY. YES, YES, YES.

    “If we choose to put something in our body that does not agree with our body we are making a choice to harm self. The solution is to make a conscious choice to behave differently.” This was like the magic light bulb that came on for me when I made to choice to get off the elevator and stop drinking. I knew that every time I drank, I was hurting myself. But not just that. I was hurting those who loved me. I am at the point now, where I am a lot more compassionate toward myself; when I was drinking, honestly, I really didn’t care if I was harming myself, but I *did* care that I was harming others through my selfishness. That was enough to jolt me out of my denial.

    I really appreciate this post Lisa, thank-you!

    • It’s interesting seeing your reply to this post because I completely relate to what you’re experiencing with the parallels between early sobriety and training for the marathon. I kind of figure if I can get and then maintain my sobriety I can do anything. Nothing was as hard as that—so far! Love having you comment.with love, Lisa

      • SO TRUE. Getting and staying sober makes everything else seem easy breezy. Well, at least a lot less daunting anyway.

        Hey, did you ever see the little girl who gave herself a bathroom pep talk? “I can do anything good!!!” It’s priceless if you haven’t seen it yet.

        I love having you post. 😉 The commenting is the least I can do! xo

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