The Thing Is…
For most of us, there is never an intelligible rock bottom, because the very idea makes no sense. Life is not an episode of Looney Tunes. Most of us are smart, functioning adults who have slowly evolved into our lives as successfulish grown-ups who medicate with substance or depend on it or simply dabble.
The semantics alone scare people, close them down and overwhelm them. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
We can just breathe and sit back for a second to ponder a few things. Thinking about things won’t make them so, won’t conjure anything into existence and entertaining the idea that we could need to change, doesn’t mean we have to. To ponder is not to make a commitment to anything other than loosened reigns on our brains.
To not regurgitate what has been said or do too much hand holding I will just propose this; if you are spending time on a regular basis questioning your intake of booze or other substances or questioning certain self-destructive behaviors or patterns then your answer has already presented itself.
Myself and dozens of others’ experiences that I’ve read (I’m sure there are hundreds of thousands more) describe spending years scribbling in journals, questioning ourselves, then reassuring ourselves that we don’t have problems. Then asking again. This creates a dichotomous inner-voice that is impossible to decipher because there is no definitive problem. Nothing is blaring. People will argue, but I think the only straight forward way to look at it is by measuring the amount of time you spend thinking about it.
Then double or quadruple that amount to account for subconscious thoughts and sit with how much of your life is being spent in internal battle about something that you have control over. You have control over it in that you have free-will to admit you don’t have control (if need be) and get some help. Because it’s empowering to know that you are choosing and you can choose otherwise. It is empowering not to have to delicately dissect and compare your usage to what is “socially accepted” alcohol intake or prescription drug use or whatever and just say, “this is taking up too much of my space.”
Measuring and tracking ones intake doesn’t halt most worrying minds.
There are health parameters, sure, but I’m not talking about those. I think there are people who have a couple of drinks a day, don’t give it another thought, don’t feel guilty or obsess and those people are fine (for now).
There are those who only have four drinks a week, but are killing themselves through holding back from wanting more, are at odds with their desire while trying to maintain what they view as the “normal or healthy” substance use which is permitting them to drink the four drinks and label that behavior as “fine” in the first place. I think that’s someone who has a problem, maybe not biologically, but because somewhere in their mind they aren’t okay with their choice. Does it even matter why? I don’t think so.
While the next person may even have three drinks a day and more on the weekend, but are genuinely unconcerned. (Though the “genuine” aspect is tricky.) What I’m saying is, don’t measure your intake or compare it to others because that is mostly irrelevant. Even if you fall far below the bar that’s been constructed, but are pummeling yourself, obsessing and marinating in guilt, it’s taking up too much of your life. Period. Because this is NOT a complicated relationship, it is something that is supposed to bring pleasure, not make more grief. And it is that simple.
Quitting drinking was one of the kindest things I’ve done for myself because it brought me back to myself. I had no idea and I mean none, that I felt guilty about my drinking and I am pretty self-aware usually, but for years I mistook my deep shame around drinking for something else, for a generalized “unhappiness” about life or feelings of being lost or uninspired. Discontent. But it was shame, lowered serotonin and inner struggle that had me.
The world doesn’t want you to quit drinking, society doesn’t, your friends don’t, so you will never stop unless you choose to give yourself a break from the dull headaches and the nagging thorn snagged in the very fabric of your being. I would kindly argue that even considering this means that you need to, because why not? What’s the worst thing that happens, you don’t drink for awhile, likely lose some weight, save some money and discover you don’t actually have a problem and continue forth, worry-free on your alcohol-enhanced journey through life? Or you realize you’re better off to have discovered the insidious fissure in your soul and are willing to learn to love yourself enough to take the added time to find genuine wonder and contentment through sobriety. Either way is a leg up.
There are many undeniably complicated relationships that we have in life, with other people. With our dreams, our families, our partners. With ourselves, but that shouldn’t be the case with something that is supposed to make us feel better. That’s such a loaded sentence, I know “supposed” and “better,” but you see what I’m saying I hope.
To give yourself permission to say, “you know what this is taking up too much space in my life.” Period, end of story. “I think I’ll stop for a little while and see how I feel about myself.”
Because it really is one day at a time. And maybe in a year you want to drink again or in a year you don’t and you have flourished in your freedom, either way it is still your decision. There is no shame around your decision to stop or to start again. This is permission to give yourself relief from this particular struggle for a little while…or forever.
The thing is, if it’s not something in the forefront of your consciousness, I’m willing to bet you didn’t make it through this article, you stopped reading after the first couple of sentences because you realized quickly that it didn’t apply to you.