Sobriety is Far More Than Just Not Drinking
Oh. My. God. Why do people continue to report someone as sober if the only thing that changed was that person went without booze for a few days or even a week or two?
That is not sobriety. That’s just the elimination of an unhealthy reliance on the glass-to-lips motion. Without that person taking time to better understand why the behavior became problematic, the propensity to drink alcohol again remains high.
What I, and countless others who drank like I did, know for sure is that sobriety is a process, not a quick fix.
A good deal of focused attention, engaged action, and dedicated time helps uncover why the desire to numb out, escape the pain, or disregarding the truth became viable solutions for dealing with life’s more challenging times.
Just like one can’t place candles in cake batter and believe slices will be served or sniff a seed in dirt and believe the scent of a flower will arise, one can’t just stop drinking and think, “Well, THAT solves that problem.”
Whether a daily drinker, binge drinker, or bad-things-always-happen-to-me-when-I-drink kind of drinker, we all need to take part in a dedicated inward study of why this unhealthy solution made sense. Without some effort to get to the root causes for why one drinks alcohol to disturbance, a tsunami of bitterness, resentfulness, and agitation will no doubt slam into whatever—or whomever—gets in the way.
There’s no preparation plan for what happens when someone stops using alcohol to blur thoughts and recreate the truth about what’s going on around them.
During those first several months in my attempt to achieve sobriety, I did what was suggested to remain “dry” or live day-by-day without alcohol. Outwardly, I did that. Inwardly, I hated every one of those suggestions. I wanted a drink more than ever before; or so that seemed. Emotions flooded through my body in waves I could not control. I smiled through gritted teeth and spoke words that led everyone to believe this idea of life without alcohol was for me.
What happened next was key for my now long-term sobriety. I kept doing what was suggested. Day after day, month after month, year after year, one day at a time. I no longer talk about not drinking and talk more about what I do instead.
Sobriety is earned, not a given. Think twice about how you banter that word around. Respect those whose actions reflect change as proof they are sober rather than rely solely on their word.
After 17 years of concentrated self-discovery and a willingness to remain teachable, I’m proud to say that I earned my seat at the sobriety table. I have no intention of vacating that seat but will gladly pull one up for anyone who wants to know how I built mine.
-Written by Alison S.