Sobriety Has Its Own Momentum

By Diane J.

<I’ve come to the realization that this alcoholism is something that will never go away. There will never be a day when I’ll “get better”.- M.>

I’m glad you posted. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone else either, absolutely not — but since you and I and others on this list seem to share “this”, perhaps we can help each other with it.

You write: “There will never be a day when I will ‘get better.'” That was an important and painful realization for me, the outcome of struggling to “control”, to “learn”, to “limit”, to “keep the drinking down to once a (fill in the rapidly decreasing blank–semester, month, week, only after 7:00 PM, not before 5:00, never in the afternoon…) over and over and over and over, with varying and wearying lengths of partial success leading to total failure AGAIN.

You would think the sheer stupefying repetition would have taught me something (I personally think the wheel of samsara is BEST depicted in a “robot drinking” cycle–laugh). I didn’t begin to get free of it until I understood the true lesson in the failures to “learn how”. The true lesson is that, when it comes to alcohol, I CANNOT learn.

In all those years of trying to learn, I never once succeeded for very long, every clever plan and powerful resolution overwhelmed by the sheer drive to keep drinking, which easily found plausible excuses for doing so and rationales for trying the NEXT clever plan to “learn” to “keep the drinking down to…”. There is nothing to learn except that there is nothing you can learn. Just let go. Drop your end of the rope and the desire to drink will — EVENTUALLY, SLOWLY, INTERMITTENTLY–drop its end and begin to vanish.

The longer you stay completely stopped (and I didn’t believe this either, but it turns out to be strangely and wonderfully true) the less effort it takes to STAY stopped. Sobriety has its own momentum.

But in the beginning, and for a longish time, it takes a great deal of work and effort (I found) to KEEP stopped. So why not let go of all the work it takes to repeat failing to learn and put the energy into whatever tools work for you to stay stopped long enough for the struggle to begin to lessen? As long as you stay in the tug of war, by continuing to get drunk sporadically, you will never get to the “effortless” part you want. Or at least I couldn’t.

I would hardly say, even now, that it’s effortless, but it is easier. And less exhausting, and less self-punishing. And leaves me room to put some energies OUT of myself and into positive change for myself and I hope for others. So let go. Just lose. Admit defeat, and there never was a war (smile). And put the energy where you can learn something valuable. Take care.