We have talked about a myriad of different myths that come up when we start asking ourselves the question of whether or not we drink too much. Unfortunately, there are a lot more myths to explore and I think taking the time to explore them is important. Until we truly understand what we are getting into, the lies that we have been told most of our lives will continue to hold a place in our psyche and shape how we view alcohol and the potential for successful sobriety. Today I will talk about another myth that is quite prevalent and one I told myself and tried to enact for years before admitting it was just not for me.
The truth of the matter is that we all want to believe we are strong and that we can control our life's direction and actions. We want to feel like there isn't something out there, out of our control, setting out a predisposed path to a future we don't even know if we are going to like. We do not like the idea that we are not in control of our own lives, as Neo so eloquently stated in "The Matrix". Was he right? Are we in complete control of our lives, or is there truth to the notion that we may have to give up some of that control to truly feel in control?
Sobriety Myth # 7 - I can moderate my drinking
Awww, that's cute, isn't it? How many times have you said, heard, and watched this ideal fall to pieces before ever gaining any traction? Okay, there may be some outliers out there, sure, but percentage-wise there is a reason they are called outliers. It just does not happen very often. Why is that? Because alcohol is one of the most addictive substances on the planet. Its entire makeup is to do the opposite of what this myth states. It does not want you to moderate your drinking. It does not want you to feel strong. It does not want you to be able to control your destiny and future. No, it wants to take hold of you and make you feel as though you have no say in the present or future of your life. And that is what it does.
This is an interesting myth too because if you are making the statement that you can moderate your drinking, you probably are not and cannot otherwise why would you be saying it. It is a way to falsely evaluate ourselves and proclaim that we do not have a problem, like myth #1, so we can go on about our lives never really taking on the burden that we cannot, in fact, moderate our drinking. I wrote about this a little bit recently when I discussed some of the ways I tried to moderate my drinking before I quit. Interestingly, we come up with these ideas while we are drinking, isn't it? I remember sitting down with a glass of wine and thinking about how next week I was going to start only drinking on the weekends. It felt right and I felt confident that I could do it because it was in the future and I was currently under the influence of the substance that alters our ability to think rationally in the first place. Next week came and out the door, the plan went.
On another day, while drinking a beer I would come up with the ingenious plan to never drink two days in a row. Brilliant! If I did that, then I was sure to only drink three to four days a week. That is doable and would certainly label me as a light drinker, right? The next day would come and out the door, that plan went; just like the multitude of others. Yeah, the idea seeps into all of our conscious and subconscious minds at some time or another. It makes sense until we try it. Unfortunately, an addict's ability to rationalize and justify just about anything is on par with true genius. You have never seen a more ingenious method of problem-solving than the mind of an addict trying to get what they want. It's truly unparalleled.
Sobriety Truth #7 - I do not want to moderate my drinking
I could have just went the opposite route here and said, I cannot moderate my drinking, but that sounds so negative and finite. I think the truth is that success in sobriety comes when we begin to understand and believe that we simply do not want it in our lives anymore. It is beneath us and we do not need or want it. I do not want to moderate my drinking because I do not want it in my life at all is a much stronger and sustaining statement for true sobriety success. If you think about it, the idea of moderation suggests weakness from inception. To make the statement says this, "I have a problem, so I will limit my access to the problem." Doesn't that mean we feel weak? To truly overcome any adversary, we must feel and project strength and sobriety is no exception.
I have been hearing a lot lately, and understandably so with all the problems that come with quarantine, that people are falling off sobriety after prolonged periods of sobriety. If we break this misfire down to the most basic of principles I believe, at the core, we will find a subconscious notion that slowly crept into the person's mind, tapped them on the shoulder and said something like, "You can have just one." Or, "Just tonight, you can start again tomorrow." Or, "What's the big deal, you have proven you can quit?" Or, any number of musings we allow to take over our otherwise intelligent minds when we are feeling vulnerable or weak. Do not listen to that voice, it is lying to you.
If you begin to hear that voice, take a moment, and reach out to someone you know who has been through it. Find a sober group where you can broach the question of whether or not it is worth it to "try" and drink again by moderating. I guarantee you there will not be a person who will substantiate that belief. Listen to them and redirect your thinking until you lose that dangerous notion. Don't beat yourself up for having it, but be honest with yourself about the truth of moderating drinking. For us, it is just not realistic; and that is okay.
We do not want to moderate our drinking. We want to live our lives alcohol-free.