Second to “why did you quit” is always “how did you quit“?!
Why, when I chose to quit drinking over a year and a half ago, did it stick? Why was this time different than the last time or all the many times before? Good question.
Well, I have a couple ideas on that. I think before it could finally click a few things had to happen first.
I needed to fail.
I had to crash and burn a few times on the moderation train. I had to try moderation in several ways (only drink on weekends, only drink when we go out, no more than two drinks, switch to a something other than wine, etc.) and FAIL at ALL of them EVERY time so I would not be able to have a few months under my belt and think all is good. That happened one time after I had not had a drink in two months and I found myself at a restaurant looking at the wine list. I sat there thinking to myself “I clearly did NOT have a problem with alcohol. If I truly have a drinking problem, if I really was drinking alcoholically, I wouldn’t be able to stop for even one day much less two months”! That evening I drank a bottle of wine and continued the on again off again cycle for another 9 months. I needed that experience, it wasn’t pretty, but I needed it.
I needed a plan.
By this point (6 years) I had read several recovery books, followed many blogs and started listening to a podcast that helped me beyond measure, called The Bubble Hour. The Bubble Hour concept is all about having a plan, more like a comfort plan, for the early days/weeks of sobriety which turn into a self care plan for the weeks and years to come. Picture in your mind a big virtual bubble that you go in to with all of your favorite things to hide from the boozy world! My bubble included my favorite warm blanket, ice cream, sobriety books, mindless TV, sappy movies, peanut M&Ms, diet ginger ale, fuzzy pajamas, etc. Even now, when I feel overwhelmed or out of sorts I will retreat to my bubble and get myself together. It is all about learning how to be cope, be comfortable and find contentment again without the numbing of wine. I am still so shocked at how happy I am with the simplest of things now! When you spend so much time and energy numbing out the bad (and good) you lose sight on how to feel and process. This just helps you find a cozy place to just be okay.
I needed support.
My husband has been beyond supportive. He is my biggest fan and celebrates every sober milestone I achieve. I also have great support from my family and a few trusted friends. The support also serves as accountability. I don’t want to let myself down and I for sure don’t want to let them down. Telling a few people who I know love me, want the best for me and are committed to pray for me is life changing. Everything in me wants to keep my life, especially this part of my life, to myself. I have found that as I slowly open up it has allowed me an opportunity to help others with similar struggles. When you feel like you are helping someone else stay on track it teleports you into a whole different level of strength and determination. Support received and support given are equally essential in my recovery.
These three experiences and tools have been super helpful. I still need the memories of failure, the support of loved ones and the peace of structure and comfort to get me through every day. They were all stepping stones of importance and they all had their place. Looking back I can see that my God devised a way to bring me back to him. Every time I failed and got back up he gave me a new tool to use until it finally worked!
But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.
2 Samuel 14:14b