At First You Fall Down a Lot

By Craig M.

[Jan wrote: I sure am having trouble staying sober….]

Jan –

You don’t really sound like you enjoy drinking at all anymore. I remember the last months of my drinking – hating every drop of vodka I poured down my throat, yet sneaking out and buying another “last” bottle….every single day.

Once I had decided that I had a problem with alcohol, I was never able to unambiguously enjoy it again – and I suspect that is true for a lot of people. That alone will not keep you from drinking, just from enjoying it.

For me a key realization was: “From now on, you will never be able to drink without feeling a little bad. There’s nothing you can ever do to change that, it’s like trying to run around the house 50 times without thinking of elephants – once you realize that alcohol is killing you, you can’t even try to suppress the thought without thinking it.”

The key thing that got me sober was an accident, but something I could have arranged if I had looked into myself a little deeper. I had all the pieces to the puzzle. Anyway, I have a deep aversion to authority, always have and always will. So this AA-nut-chemical-counselor-who-I-have-to-see-because-that’s-what-my-insurance-sends-me-to says “You’re too stubborn, too much denial. You’re not at a bottom, and I don’t think you’re ready to quit yet.”

Of course the only reaction available in my emotional palette is: “Fuck you. I can too. I’ll show you, bitch.” And I haven’t had a drink since.

So what is it that makes you tick? When you’re too tired to care and can’t even imagine getting up off the couch, what can shoot your blood pressure up 50 points and get you moving? How can you use your strengths (and turn what you might think are your weaknesses into strengths) to beat the bottle?

Right now, I hope you can dump the booze that you have and not buy more. You slipped up last night, that’s pretty common.

Stopping drinking is like learning to ride a bicycle. At first you fall down a lot. You might get mad at the bike, at your parents who bought you that dumb bike that doesn’t work right, or even at people who aren’t having as hard a time learning to balance. But if you keep trying, you eventually “get it” – the falls cease or become very rare, isolated experiences which certainly don’t mean “you can’t do it”. It becomes effortless most of the time, something you don’t even have to think about.

Keep trying and take care of yourself,