Updated: Nov 9, 2020
As many of you know, I spend a lot of time reflecting on my sober journey. More specifically, I spend a lot of time trying to understand the differences between my journey and other's journies. From day one of sobriety, it became clear to me that not all paths are created equal. For some, the journey is incredibly difficult and lifelong. For others, the journey is a struggle, but a struggle with an end in sight. Still, others experience the journey as simply a hopeful survival from one day to the next. Occasionally, you will hear about a journey with far fewer obstacles, struggles, and dependencies on things outside our control. It is these more rare occasions I find the most intriguing. I am intrigued by these journeys partly because it is how I found my experience to be, but it is also because I am obsessed with why there is such a disparity in the difficulty of experiences from one person to the next. How can one person experience such pain and torment on their path while another can experience ease and grace? I believe the answers lie in the why's.
Before we can even begin to start an effective campaign toward successful sobriety, we have to find our answers to a few questions. More importantly, we have to find the courage to be truly honest about our answers to these questions. As addicts, we have found it far too easy to justify our problems away. We quickly learned how to manipulate our and other's feelings to achieve our desired results. When we didn't like the way we felt about a particular situation, we learned how to deflect our true feelings and pass the buck on to someone else. One of the most effective skills in an addict's backpack of survival is the ability to divert blame, responsibility, and accountability away from ourselves and onto others. It is how we maintained our status of unreliability while still receiving sympathy and even help from those around us.
If we cannot separate ourselves from our usual self-preservation tactics, it is going to be very difficult to find our truths. Without our truths, we cannot truly answer the difficult questions necessary to set us free from our self-imposed constraints. Without our truths, we cannot find the strength and courage to dig deep enough to uncover our truest selves. Without our truths, we cannot effectively walk down the path of successful and easy sobriety. At this point, you may be asking yourself, what are the questions that can help us find our truths? The questions are simple, the answers, not so much. Nevertheless, the questions start with, why?
Why do I drink?
At first glance, you are probably thinking this is an easy question to answer. You may even think it is a waste of your time to ponder such a question. Why do I drink? That's easy. I drink because it tastes good. I drink because it makes me feel good. I drink because I need it to relax. I drink because it allows me to be more myself. You may say to yourself, this is nothing new. I have thought about all of this, and it doesn't help me get any closer to living successfully without alcohol. The reason none of these thoughts or beliefs help us get any closer to successful sobriety is that nowhere in any of those thoughts or beliefs lies any amount of truth. This is not to say we do not believe them to be our truths. This is to say, they are simply the lies we and alcohol have told ourselves to deflect our real truths and emotions. In order to find our truths, we have to be open and willing to dig deeper. We have to be open and willing to be vulnerable. We have to be open and willing to get to know our truest selves.
Why do I drink? First of all, let's dispel the obvious lies we often tell ourselves about drinking. Alcohol did not taste good. Our first introduction to alcohol was of a rancidness we could barely chug down. In fact, it tasted so bad, we often grimaced and even gagged with every swallow. How absolutely absurd is that truth? The idea that alcohol makes us feel good is just silly. The only thing it truly does is numb our feelings. It allows us to not feel anything, emotionally, and physically. It actually detracts from our ability to be present in any given situation. The idea th