I’m listening to a Recovery Elevator podcast and the guest said this was the best advice she’d ever received.
Currently the bitch is telling me that I’m not as bad as all these people I’m listening to on the podcast. This idea itself is so dangerous. Simply put, don’t compare yourself to others; look for the similarities not differences. My alcoholic voice (the bitch) is trying to make me think I’m special, I’m different, I don’t need to do what these folks have done to maintain sobriety because I didn’t do the things they’re saying they did, I didn’t drink as much. Oh FUCK YOU bitch, you and the pink cloud are in cahoots, this is a conspiracy and you’re all in on it, and I see right through it.
My main thoughts for the past 24 hours have been about why this has to be so consuming. Why the sobriety days counter? Why is it all we have to think about? Why can’t this just be another thing, another habit, another muscle memory? I don’t think about not smoking every day.
Let’s talk about my smoking story for a bit. I quit smoking in August 2007, it was one of the hardest things I’d ever done to improve myself, meaning that it was hard psychologically, but I found a program that worked for me. The program was all about convincing myself of the lies I’d been brainwashed to believe about smoking and truly believing that I was a non-smoker. Sure, at first it’s all I though about, I don’t know how long it took until I didn’t think about it every day; I’m going to speculate that it was a year or so. I kind of wish I’d had a blog about it to look back on. Anyway, after a while it was just who I was, I was a non-smoker. I had the occasional craving, it was like a feeling of wanting something but not knowing what it was exactly. But then about 3-4 years ago, my friend started smoking when we drank together, pretty soon I was bumming them and then I was buying a pack that she would keep so I didn’t smoke them unless we were together, then I just started smoking at home by myself. But winter came and I was not going to stand outside and smoke in the cold and snow so I quit. Then summer came again and I started again, this time I smoked more. By this time it consumed me, I spend the entire summer outside, I took my laptop outside to work, all so I could smoke. This time when it got cold I put a fan in the window in my bedroom, one of those short ones with 2 sides that you can flip a switch to send the air out or pull it in, and sat in front of it every night and smoked and drank and watched tv. EVERY NIGHT. In 2016 I was sick a lot, it seemed I was always sick; bronchitis, sinus infection, seasonal allergies…colds that lasted months and I never stopped coughing, I went through bags of Hall’s because it was the only thing that calmed the cough, I would fall asleep with Hall’s in my mouth, I’d wake up in the middle of the night coughing and get a cough drop and fall asleep with it in my mouth. I kept hoping I didn’t choke to death. Finally, after a particularly harsh hangover in early December 2016, with the elephant on my chest, I just decided that was enough, I had smoked all my cigarettes the night before and I decided I was done. And I was. I haven’t smoked since and I only miss it occasionally. I won’t do it again. I don’t want to feel like that again.
So how is alcohol different? I’ve done the same thing with alcohol that I initially did with smoking. I know the lies I’ve been brainwashed to believe about drinking – that it helps me relax LIE, that it calms me LIE, that it feels good LIE, that it tastes good LIE, it eases my anxiety and depression symptoms LIE it’s probably the cause of my depression and anxiety, it makes me more fun or interesting LIE, sex is better LIE, it helps me sleep LIE! I know what’s good about not drinking, the advantages of being a non-drinker – my mind is clear, I spend less money, I remember my life, I don’t feel sick, I do more things, I have energy, I’m involved in my life, I don’t waste days drinking or recovering from drinking. My future is much more secure without alcohol. I WANT TO BE SOBER!
But all the recovering alcoholics say I have to put my sobriety before anything else. That I have to constantly go to meetings, I have to have a sponsor, I have to work these steps. I have to maintain this constant vigil. OMG how exhausting and overwhelming. This is not how I want to live my life. I don’t want my life to be ABOUT not drinking any more than I want it to be about not smoking. I am someone other than my addictions.
Is this the bitch lying to me in my own voice, conspiring with the pink cloud?