I go on a lot about brain-retraining in early sobriety… how we need to really embrace the reality of a sober life by actively working inside our grey-matter to turn our thinking around. How we need to actively challenge every hard-wired belief that tells us booze is the magical ingredient that makes occasions special.
It took me a huge amount of effort when I started living sober to not feel hard done by because I couldn’t relax with a glass of merlot at 5pm, because I couldn’t refresh myself on a hot afternoon with an icy cold beer, that I couldn’t raise a toast with champagne, that I couldn’t bond with girlfriends over a Chardonnay, that I couldn’t have fun at a party without numerous tequilas.
The method I worked on (developed with the help of this book and this one) was to focus really clearly on all the other factors inherent in an event. That relaxing was about being finished work for the day, comfy pants and a scented candle, that refreshing yourself was about re-hydrating and taking a break, that toasting was about human connectedness and joy, that bonding with girlfriends was about female companionship and love, that having fun at a party was about great music, excellent chats, yummy nibbles and dancing!
And slowly over time as I relaxed, bonded, celebrated and refreshed myself without booze I realised all my hard-wired beliefs were BULLSHIT! I started seeing clearly that alcohol is a drug that mimics genuine feelings .. and experiencing those feelings authentically was infinitely better and more rewarding! Honestly.. feeling positive emotions in a pure form (without booze) is incredibly lovely and powerful.
And then this update popped up in the Members Feed the other day. A brilliant illustration of someone coming to this realisation for the first time. @delgirl68 articulates this moment so clearly and beautifully I am featuring it here with her permission.
@delgirl68: I was having dinner in my restaurant the other night and brought a non alcoholic beer in with me. I was definitely feeling the urge to drink and feeling a little sorry for myself. We (me, hubby, kids) were waiting for our pizzas and doing a “cheers”. Hubby with a real beer, me with my non-beer, kids with their soft drinks. Even in doing that, I was still having little battle in my head. But what happened was this: I realised from the outside everything looked completely normal (even though the demons were raging in my head). Here I was, out with the family, all relaxing, enjoying company, toasting, relaxed etc.
The demons had to be silenced because here I was, doing the normal stuff. If my beer had been a real one, what would the difference had been? It would have been exactly the same (except it would have been the first drink on the way to getting drunk).
I realised I had everything already – alcohol could not have enhanced it.
The voice in my head was forced to go away with that realisation that I was not missing out on anything. It was quite a powerful observation.
Not just a powerful observation from @delgirl68 but a very profound realisation of a fundamental truth: That despite the best efforts of the alcohol industry to make us believe nothing is special without alcohol, and despite the best efforts of our own brains trying to convince us that our lives will be miserable without booze… IT’S JUST NOT TRUE.
We have everything we need for a full, fun, lovely and rewarding life right in front of us – not in the brain-bending liquid in our glass. We just have to look clearly at it.
Love, Mrs D xxx