My last post focused on how we have to make a choice when we go into recovery and sobriety. We have to be ready, emotionally, in order to successfully negotiate the many potential obstacles that may be present along our sober journey. When we make a definitive choice to live we arm ourselves with an enormous amount of emotional and even physical strength to aid us as we walk down the once elusive path of sobriety. After we have made the crucial choice and then allowed ourselves to believe that we are already the person we want to be, we can honestly begin taking the steps toward getting to know our true selves again. Get ready though, because the person you are about to meet is pretty amazing. I would even go so far as to say that person is a badass (thanks Dawndra). The next step in our path toward easy sobriety is knowledge. It's time to fill our brains with information and beliefs that will outshine any semblance of our former selves.
It is important to differentiate between pre-sobriety and post-sobriety when trying to understand the stance I am making in terms of the potential for easier sobriety. Nobody, including myself, had an easy path to sobriety. That is why we are all here reading these blogs, listening to podcasts, joining groups, working steps, and doing whatever we can to make the positive changes necessary to live again, free from our addictions. The path of the addict is miserable and one I would not wish on my worst enemy. However, the path immediately following the honest commitment and choice to change is from where I see the potential for an easier journey; if we effectively arm ourselves. Knowledge, as they say, is power, and when speaking of addiction, nothing is more true.
How we obtain this knowledge may be different for everyone but the importance is not in how or where we find the knowledge or even what the specific knowledge is; the importance is in finding the knowledge that works for us, individually. The knowledge I found came in many different forms. The first, as I wrote about in the first post about easy sobriety, came from my work in therapy. I learned how to think differently about myself and my actions. I learned how to deal with day-to-day life issues that used to seem unmanageable. In essence, I learned how to communicate with myself, again, so I could make more rational and positive decisions. But, that did not help me want to drink less.
The first piece of knowledge that effectively began to change the way I saw alcohol was in the form of a piece of literature I have written about many times in my blogs. Annie Grace's "This Naked Mind" was instrumental in equipping my arsenal of sobriety knowledge. Remember, the individual pieces of knowledge may be different for everyone, but let me tell you how this book helped me. There were a couple of things that happened to me immediately following my quitting drinking and simultaneously beginning to read this book.
Using knowledge to affect easy sobriety
The first came in the form of a quote from Annie's book that said, "Alcohol is the only drug we have to make an excuse not to do." That quote affected me on such a level that I get chills even just typing it right now; here's why. Anyone who remembers going out with friends the first time as a sober person remembers the dilemma you were faced with regarding how to deal with telling people you were not drinking. For me, I simply ordered a NA beer and kept the label facing me so nobody ever knew I wasn't drinking. I didn't want to answer the questions, Why aren't you drinking? Is something wrong? Do you have a problem? As a twenty-year vegetarian, I feel the same way about my dietary lifestyle choices. When people can't comprehend something, they ask the craziest of questions and make the most absurd comments because they just don't know how to conceptualize that you don't want to drink or eat meat. It is inconceivable. For that reason, I chose not to impart the information so I didn't have to deal with the barrage of comments and questions. But here's the thing, why the fuck do I have to make an excuse or justify why I don't want to drink the poison? I know now that I don't.
The second came in the form of an idea passed along in the book. Annie took many liberties in outlining the science behind how alcohol works and the multitude of ways we try and justify our drinking, but this one idea I just couldn't see past. The idea was how alcohol is societally and socially thrust upon us as something we NEED to have in order to live a happy life. From a very young age, we begin to see alcohol as something that invokes happiness, joy, and fun. We watch as our family and friends talk about and even praise alcohol. We marvel at the mystery that lies within the illustrious forbidden liquid with such fervor that the moment we get the chance to imbibe we do so with such a ferocity that most of us end up with at least a mild case of alcohol poisoning and then swear to never do it again... Yeah, right. The idea speaks to how society is in a constant state of homage to alcohol. We speak of it with high reverence, we build shrines to show off its magnificence; we advertise it as THE way to enjoy life, to have fun, and to live. Nothing, in my opinion, is touted as necessary for our successful enjoyment of life as alcohol. This piece of knowledge began an onslaught of information for my mind to unpack as I took the very beginning steps into recovery and sobriety.
Once this idea took hold in my mind, I could not look at or view alcohol or even people using alcohol in the same way. I want to clarify that by saying, I do not wish to be judgmental of people who drink, but I do see people who drink differently now. Nevertheless, this was yet another way my knowledge helped me walk an easier path through recovery. I began actively seeking out and acknowledging the absurdities of alcohol. I began to pay attention to advertising and recognized the lies they told through marketing. I watched strangers, friends, and family's intellect slowly decline over the course of an evening due to their brains struggling to maintain focus as a result of the alcohol they were consuming. I listened to my coworkers complain about their hellish hangovers and in the same sentence proclaim their devotion to drinking as soon as the weekend arrived. I saw the stumbling people on the street. I listened to the slurred speech. I witnessed the bad decisions. I became privy to all that is wrong with alcohol and the way it is unequivocally accepted in society. I had donned the most impenetrable armor known to humankind; the armor of knowledge.
How do you find YOUR knowledge?
Therein lies the truest of questions. For me, I became angry at the lies associated with alcohol. It made me want nothing to do with it, on a moral and even spiritual level. For you, it may be something completely different. The point is, you have to begin seeking your truth. You have to actively engage with your thoughts about why you want to quit drinking or other addictions. You have to be open to the possibility that there may be something out there that is your truth and that you are not even aware of it yet. The only way to find your truth, your thing, your knowledge is for you to actively and ferociously seek it out. It is out there. Ask questions, read books, talk to others, research the science behind alcohol and drugs, fill your mind with the knowledge you need to don your own armor, and begin walking your easier path into recovery and sobriety.
"Without knowledge, action is useless and knowledge without action is futile." - Abu Bakr