I don’t like it because it doesn’t really work.
It’s not about sacrifice. The very term “giving up” alcohol implies sacrifice. Nobody “gives up” drinking, the same way nobody gives up at a traffic light when it turns red. You just stop. Stop Drinking. Stop. It’s not even an action is it? It’s cessation of action. It’s switching focus. Replacing the old action of drinking with other new actions.
Giving up does more than simply imply that we have stopped a course of action. It infers that there is no more action to come. And that is where we are going about recovery in a horribly wrong way. From a massively flawed premise. “I’ve given up drinking so my life is over” versus “I’ve stopped drinking so therefore I’m deliberately starting to live”.
And It is an important distinction. Because if we feel like we’ve given up something wonderful, the next feeling is that our life will not be as good as everyone else’s – those lucky ones who get to still participate in something we have denied ourselves, we will develop feelings of resentment and entitlement. “Now that I’ve decided to stop messing my life up with drinking, the world should give me a break. Be nice to me.” That we are suffering and should be rewarded for our gallantry.
It won’t happen. It can’t happen. Because it isn’t true. This realization can be very disappointing. And that disappointment just brings a bigger sense of lack and emptiness. Until giving up on giving up seems the only available option. A very easily excused and readily justified option too. And so back to drinking we go. Relapse in full swing, ready to begin that vicious cycle again. And again.
Unless we die. There’s your stop. Or is dying too strong a word? Would we prefer “giving up” living?
Recovery is not a sacrifice. It is empowering. An exciting and wonderful journey. The most amazing thing a person can do for themselves.
And I never expected it. Never knew it could feel like this. Certainly nobody told me it could be this way.
Alcoholics waste years on drinking. On being anesthetized by our drug of choice.
We’ve missed so much of life. All of us. Recovery does not have to be about missing out on even more by spending our new sober life either commiserating with other people who also think they are missing out, or by spending it shut away from the world out of fear. Fear that our self-discipline is not strong enough to fight the need to drink. More mistaken thinking. Nothing about being recovered needs to be about lack.
My heart breaks for people who have felt the need to “battle” with sobriety. Whether they have lost the battle and gone back to drinking like the 80% we are so often told do. Or whether they continue to battle-like the elusive 5% who stay in recovery but still feel vulnerable to relapse, or bereft without alcohol. Never feeling fully free and really, truly alive – when it is so very easy to do so!
I do believe being recovered is beautiful. And permanent. I do believe we can all have it. Easily. Joyfully. Comfortably. I believe in a world where recovered people are happy. I think we all deserve it. And I think it starts with something as simple as the words we use. Giving up nothing. Choosing more.
Choosing a life of passion. Of reaching beyond everything we’ve ever assumed was possible. A miraculous life filled with inspiration. With love, fulfilment. To me that’s what recovery is. And who wouldn’t want live in a place like that?
Follow Carrie Armstrong on Twitter: www.twitter.com/CarrieArmstrng
2 thoughts on “Please Don’t Give Up Drinking. Start Living Instead!”
I wonder if this might be applied to any addiction? I’ve heard the term ‘spiritual-egoism’ or addiction. How does one quit being a seeker and just start living?
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All addictions are about being hi-jacked from an authentic life – even “Spiritual” egoism. But there is a difference between being a seeker (usually, one who is looking for a mentor/guru) and spiritual-egoism (one who carries a pretense).
Does this begin to address your question? :)
Thanks for starting a dialogue!
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