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F~ck Alcohol

I don't know about you, but I can say with utmost certainty the day sobriety became easy for me was the day I finally said, "Fuck Alcohol." I hung out with a close friend the other day. We hadn't seen each other since the pandemic started, so we had a lot of catching up to do. One of the things she shared with me was her continued desire to give up drinking but also her continued struggle to fully do so. She drank a lot for a lot of years. Now, she doesn't drink very much, but she knows her inability to stop completely is a problem for her. As we dove deeper into the conversation about her inability to quit, what became apparent to me was her positive connection to the idea of drinking. She still looked at it as something to look forward to, something to calm her down, something to enjoy after a long day of work. She still looked at it as something to be missed when she quit drinking. At this point in my alcohol-free life I think it is safe to say, if you are still holding onto a positive feeling toward alcohol, you are going to struggle in sobriety.

I sometimes worry, with all the writing I do about sobriety, I often repeat myself. My partner feels the things I end up repeating warrant repetition, so it is okay. I certainly hope that is the case. In this case, I not only think it is warranted to repeat myself but it is also absolutely necessary. I say this because I believe until we reframe our thinking about alcohol and our relationship with alcohol, we don't stand a chance against the demon that is addiction. Try walking away from a loved one forever. Try giving up coffee tomorrow. Try living sugar-free. Try living celibately. Try giving up anything you still love. If you do, you will struggle for one simple reason. Longing. We long for those things we love when they are not present in our lives. The longing we feel can be all-consuming, overwhelming, and even unbearable. It is one of the most powerful emotions we can experience in life, but it is also one of the most damaging emotions we can experience in addiction.

I literally grinned and bore it

Longing: noun. A yearning desire. To fully understand this definition we also need to understand the meaning of yearning: noun. A strong and emotional desire. This is not simply wanting something. This is needing something from a strong emotional state. While need can be subjective in most cases, in the case of addiction it can feel absolute. But, that is subjective too. I am certain a few hairs on the back of a few people's necks just erected a bit. Fair enough. Nevertheless, let's dig into this a little deeper. The reason I say our need for our addiction is subjective is I believe we create that perception. Is there a chemical component to addiction? Of course. Is there an addictive nature to it? Definitely. Can we change the way both affect us? I believe we can. I've told this story before, but I am going to tell it again because I have never experienced anything more powerful.

A while ago, I set out to quit drinking and nicotine at the same time. After a day or two, I quickly realized I was not going to be able to do both at the same time. For whatever reason, I choose to continue quitting nicotine and let go of the idea of quitting drinking. Removing nicotine, for the second time, was excruciating. I was horrifically irritable, just ask my partner. I gained twenty pounds, and I felt like nothing mattered. I was miserable. I kept with it for three months never really feeling any better about it. I literally grinned and bore it. Somewhere in those three months, my partner and I started talking seriously about quitting drinking together. While I was still struggling with nicotine, I knew it was what I ultimately wanted to do anyway so I agreed and we set a date. When the date rolled around, we took off on our alcohol-free adventure. Well, my partner did. Again, within one day, I called her and told her I was not going to be able to do it because I was still struggling too much with nicotine. She was supportive, but I felt horrible.

It means our minds have an extraordinary ability to control how we perceive and subsequently experience our reality

While my partner was alcohol-free, she kept telling me about the quitlit she was reading. I tried to act interested but I felt like all the stuff she was reading didn't really make sense to me. One day, while snowboarding on the mountain, we had lunch and I ordered two beers. My partner had soda water. It was at that moment when I remember feeling the first real pang of contempt for alcohol. I was angry at myself for drinking in front of my partner who was trying to better herself. After that, I began to open my mind up to the information my partner was passing on. It started to make sense to me, and I agreed to read one of the books she was reading. Of course, you know the book by now: "This Naked Mind" by Annie Grace. I again set a date to quit drinking and I was terrified to do it after the struggle I was having with nicotine. The date arrived and I quit drinking. I also started reading Annie's book and blogging every day about my experience. Those two things combined with some skills I learned in therapy propelled me onto the path I have referred to many times as Easy Sobriety. It was, for me, but that is not all.

Not only was my sober journey incredibly easy, something else happened I was not even aware of for over a month. About a month into my sobriety I realized something else; I had not even thought about nicotine since I quit drinking. What? Exactly. The day I walked away from alcohol armed with some new knowledge and a true desire for change, I forgot about the excruciating time I was having with quitting nicotine. Gone! Vanished! I haven't thought about it since. What does this mean? It means our minds have an extraordinary ability to control how we perceive and subsequently experience our reality. The only thing that changed regarding my nicotine addiction was the way I looked at my life and the way I wanted to live. Through Annie's writing, I learned how much I despised the way society not only treats alcohol but also the way society reveres it too. I wanted nothing to do with it any longer. I said, "Fuck alcohol" and guess what else? I subsequently and subconsciously said, "Fuck nicotine" as well, and I didn't even know it. That is how powerful our perception is over our experience.

We changed the way we perceived their or its value to us

Now, if you have not gone through it, I can understand how my story might feel a bit hard to swallow. I get it. Let's look at it another way. Let's go back to the idea of how our relationship with alcohol plays a strong role in our ability to successfully quit drinking. When we long for something, we can't stop thinking about it. It consumes our every thought and feeling. This happens because we hold on to a positive memory of it. That positive memory is too difficult to let go of so we focus on it incessantly. As long as we remain in that state, we will yearn for it. We will long for it. But, that is only the case because we still hold a positive connection to it. How many times have we walked away from something or someone who no longer suited our needs? We all have. Someone wronged us so we walked away and never looked back. Something lost its value to us so we gave it to Goodwill or threw it away. We make decisions like this all the time and it is easy. Why? Because we let go of our connection with that person or that thing. We changed the way we perceived their or its value to us. Once we do that, walking away is easy. This is exactly what I believe I did with alcohol and then nicotine. I literally changed the way I saw them and their value in my life and I said, "Fuck 'em." End of story.

Is this a bit overly simplified for the gigantic problem that is addiction? Sure, I can concede that. Nevertheless, I can also say, emphatically, I believe sometimes the simplest explanation can also be the most correct. Thanks, Occam's Razor. The more important question is this. What if I am right? What if we can simply change our perception and therefore change our experience? What if I can say alcohol no longer has any value to me, so I am going to simply walk away from it forever? What if I believe I deserve more?

What if?

Get your copy of the #1 International Bestseller,

"Alcohol-Free Straight Up with a Twist" here.

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