We have acknowledged that our relationship with alcohol needs to be reevaluated, we have taken the steps to begin our path to sobriety, and we have recognized that life can be pretty damn fun while sober. The next myth has been part of our makeup for as long as we can remember. It started with our parents talking about it, and then as we approached adulthood adapted it into our lives because we figured there had to be something to it. As we walked through the adult world, we began to believe it to be true to such an extent that we posted about it, talked about it, took pictures of it, and even bragged about it.
Sobriety Myth #5: I deserve a drink
At the end of a hard day of work, after dealing with a difficult life event, or simply after struggling to fix that household repair you have been working on, one thing always popped into our minds when we finished and it wasn't even voluntary. "I deserve a drink!" Not only would we say it without thinking about the ramifications that statement held, but we would also proclaim it loudly and anyone around us would agree just as loudly while offering us a high-five to celebrate the accomplishment that warranted such a celebration.
Let's look at this a little closer. I deserve a drink. Alcohol has become such a staple for happiness, we equate it with anything pleasurable or not because it is the one thing that can enhance our already present pleasure or gives us pleasure when we are down. If I am happy I have a drink because I feel good and want to feel better. If I am sad, I have a drink because it will make me feel better. If I am excited I have a drink to celebrate. If I win something I have a drink. If I lose something I have a drink. If I go out I have a drink. If I stay home I have a drink, etc... One thing I began to see clearly towards the end of my drinking days was that I could find a reason to drink in any situation known to man, and I could justify it.
That is why I could never make any of my moderate drinking schemes work. I will only drink on the weekends. Well, something amazing would inevitably happen during the week that would negate that deal and make it okay to celebrate. Or, something horrible would happen that would do the same. I will only drink when I go out. Well, I would either go out a lot more or justify drinking at home because going out was too expensive. The point is, I found a way to always "deserve" a drink.
Let's talk about the ramifications of that drink we deserve so much. We trudge through a horribly trying day at work. We had to put out fires every time we turned around. We dropped the ball on a deadline and our boss chewed us out. Then, when it was time to go home, our boss asked us to stay late for a meeting; a meeting that lasted far to long and accomplished nothing. Finally, we exit the building, walk out to our car, climb inside, and say to ourselves, "I deserve a drink." I mean, we effectively negotiated that horrible day without losing our minds and we are still alive. Let's celebrate.
On the way home, we stop for a bottle of liquor, wine, beer or all three. We drive faster than we should to get home and immediately crack open one of the libations where we take enormous pride in consuming that first deserved drink of alcohol. After, we begin our evening with a drink in hand and drink through the night complaining about our day and celebrating its completion with gusto. We drink so much that eventually we pass out in front of the television and wake up in the middle of the night with a painful crick in our neck. We make our way to bed and pass out again. In the morning we wake up feeling like absolute shit; our head hurts, our mouth is dry and tastes awful; and we feel angry and grouchy. We then remember we forgot to do something and are already too late to do it. This upsets us further because we know we will hear about it later. With as horrible as we feel, we know we are not going to be able to get anything done that day so we figure there is only one thing to do in order to save the day from complete disaster. We have another drink because we deserve that too. That drink turns into another until it is the evening and we have done nothing we had planned. We pass out on the couch again. Wake up feeling like shit, and start the whole process over. We do this until we wake up Monday morning feeling like death and go to work with a piss poor attitude and proclaim how much we hate Mondays to a group of people who feel exactly the same way we do and then we all start talking about having drinks on Friday.
Sobriety Truth #5: I do not deserve a drink
I do not know about you, but I do not deserve to live a life of misery like the one I just described above. I say this cautiously because I know I have done a lot of questionable shit in my time. I know I have not been a model son, citizen, employee, father, spouse, or person in general; but I do know that I do not deserve to live that kind of life. Nobody does, really. So why do we proclaim we do with such bravado? It is one of the most interesting and confusing psychological aspects of the human condition and one that I am not going to solve for you in this blog. What I will do for you, however, is tell you what you do deserve.
We deserve to feel good about ourselves, our day, and our lives. We deserve to wake up feeling healthy, strong, and clear-headed. We deserve to have the energy and confidence to walk through life aware of our actions and the actions of others. We deserve to feel worthy and deserving of a solid career, a successful relationship, and a genuine sense of joy in our lives. We deserve to dream and to pursue those dreams. We deserve to take risks and to be okay if those risks don't pay off. We deserve to surround ourselves with other healthy and like-minded people who support us and who are there for us no matter what. We deserve to live a life that is not clouded and obstructed by a poison that destroys every single effort we make to accomplish every single one of the above-stated desires we strive to achieve. We deserve to live.
I deserve to live well. And so do you.