I am getting ready to leave work when a friend of mine mentions he and several coworkers are going to go out for drinks, and he invites me along. I don't say this, but I have been concerned about my drinking lately, so I have been trying to cut back. I tell my friend that I have other plans, as a way of getting out of the invite. My friend then tells me I have to come, it has been too long since we all got together. He tells me not to be a drag. I don't like the way that feels because it feels unfair. I tell him I am not a drag, I just have things to do. He responds by accusing me of being too good to hang out with friends. I tell him to stop being a jerk. He laughs and says, "Hey, I was just joking. Come on, just have one with us, it'll be like old times." I reluctantly agree.
We go to our regular bar and find a table to occupy. I don't even have to order my drink because the server knows what I drink and delivers it. She mentions she hasn't seen me in a while. I respond, I have been busy. She welcomes me back. It feels good she noticed my absence. I down the first beer so quickly I actually wonder what happened to its contents when I reach down to pick it up for another drink. The server drops off another without my ordering it. I look at the second beer and have a moment of reflection about what I am trying to do, cut back. The moment is gone faster than it appeared and before I know it, the second beer is gone, then the third, then the fourth, then shots of tequila show up.
The next thing I know I am concentrating as hard as I can to maintain focus on the road while I try to navigate my way home in my car. I take the backroads in an effort not to get caught doing what I know I should not be doing in the first place. It never even crossed my mind not to drive. I mean, I had to get home, I had work in the morning. Somehow, I make it home. At the door to my house, I struggle for several minutes trying to first, find my keys, and second to get the key in the lock. I make my way into the bedroom, and I somehow remember and manage to set the alarm on my phone before passing out on top of the covers fully dressed.
I wake up the next morning to the blaring of the alarm clock and a massive pounding in my head. I involuntarily swear at myself out loud before I walk into the bathroom where I get a glimpse of the man in the mirror who once again let me down. He looks like shit. He looks old. There is a bruise on my cheek. I shake my head, and I tell myself how pathetic I am for not having the strength to stand up for myself. What's the use, anyway. I am never going to be able to quit drinking. I go to work, loathing my existence, and I immediately begin looking forward to having a drink when I get home.
That is powerless
I am getting ready to leave work when a friend of mine mentions he and several coworkers are going to go out for drinks, and he invites me along. I don't say this, but I have been concerned about my drinking lately, so I decided to quit. I hadn't told anyone because I felt like it was my personal journey and something I needed to do for myself. I decline his offer. My friend then tells me I have to come because it has been too long since we all hung out. I tell him I know, but I have things I need to do. He tells me not to be a drag. I look at him and tell him I am not being a drag. He guffaws and asks if I think I am too good for them. I tell him no and not to be a jerk. He laughs and tells me he was only joking and punches my arm. I reach up and rub my arm, his punch actually hurt. The slight pain reminds me of all the unknown bruises I have acquired over the years from the numbness that occurred due to my drinking. I then recall something I read recently that talked about the society of alcohol and how people will not only encourage drinking but expect it from each other. This pisses me off and so I look at my friend and say, "Dude, I actually quit drinking. I don't really want to come along. Sorry, but you have fun." He backs away from me as if I have polio. He responds, "Aww man, don't be a quitter." He laughs and attempts to punch my arm again. I catch his wrist and gently push his fist away from me before it connects. I laugh and tell him again to have fun. In my head, I think to myself, "I am so glad I am done with that nonsense." I walk away. As I am leaving I hear my old friend say, "Aw man, I was just joking... whatever man. Have fun by yourself, you always brought the group down anyway." I smile.
I get in my car and head home feeling good about my decision to stick to my plan. It didn't feel good to have an altercation with one of my best friends over drinking, but it did feel good to know I can stand up for myself. When I get home, my wife greets me and asks me how my day was. I tell her about the altercation. She tells me about a similar experience she had recently. She quit drinking at the same time as me. We laugh about the craziness of it all. We are both amazed at the societal peer pressure that accompanies alcohol. We have a mocktail together for our own version of happy hour. She has dealcoholized wine, and I have a NA beer. We sit on the patio and enjoy the view from our deck. Afterward, I go and get a workout in. That is one of the things I promised myself I would bring back in my life since quitting drinking. After I work out, I shower and grab my computer and meet my wife outside. We both spend some time working on personal goals. She reads and meditates. I write a blog, edit my novel, and spend some time organizing some podcast interviews I do to help others working through sobriety.
Once we feel we have done some quality work on our personal goals, I go in and make dinner. I am the cook in the family. I make a stuffed zucchini dish with a side salad. We eat dinner together at the table and talk about things that are going on in our lives. We make plans for a trip we have coming up and talk about some loftier dreams we want to achieve someday. After dinner, we clean up and agree to watch one of our favorite television shows. It's one of our routines. When it's time to go to bed, we both take a book and read for a little while in bed before gently falling off to sleep.
The alarm sounds. I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. I turn off the alarm and make my way downstairs to make coffee. While I drink my coffee, I read about cognitive-behavioral therapy. It's something I want to learn more about to include in my sober blog and writing. I have become fascinated with the idea of core beliefs and how perception is the key to unlocking our potential in pretty much everything. After reading I get dressed, kiss my wife goodbye, and head off to work. When I arrive, I am quickly accosted by my old friend who unenthusiastically tells me what a great time I missed. I look at him and notice his disheveled appearance and alcohol odor on his breath. I punch him in the arm and say, "Glad you had fun. My night was pretty boring." I walk away knowing I am on the right path.
That is powerful
I have become one-hundred percent certain that perception is the absolute key ingredient in, what I like to call, easy sobriety. It is incredibly important how we look at ourselves and our actions. We have to consider this when we take the first steps onto our path of sobriety. There is an incredible number of programs and paths to choose from to help us along our way, but not all programs and paths are created equal. Not all programs and paths work for everyone. There is no one size fits all in the battle to overcome our, self-imposed, demons. There is no medication to alleviate our problems. There are only our perceptions of our problems and what we do with those perceptions.
One of the quickest ways I have found to help in adjusting our perceptions comes in the form of language. The words we not only use, but choose to use to describe ourselves, our actions, and our lives are paramount in the overall outcome of our journey. One of the reasons we found ourselves on the addiction road stemmed from the way we viewed ourselves, to begin with. We felt unworthy, unlikeable, unloved, boring, lost, and generally unhappy. We thought alcohol was the cure. We eventually learn it only added to and further escalated the problem to the point of addiction and sincere concern for our mental and physical well-being.
The one consistent overarching theme that runs through all forms of self-help, mindfulness, therapeutic, and life-changing habits is positive self-talk. We must learn to change the way we see ourselves by choosing to use more positive language to describe how we see ourselves, our actions, and our lives. We are all incredibly powerful people who are strong, independent, and capable of living more fulfilling lives. We need to stop using language that negates our being and start using language that uplifts us and our views of the world around us. We not only need to do this for ourselves, but we also need to start using language to uplift those around us as well. Tell each other how strong and powerful we are. Tell each other how much we look up to one another for the strength and courage we show every day. Be kind and spread the power of positivity in every aspect you can. Be the person you want to be and live the way you want to live.
We are POWERFUL.