As I plan to share this blog, I keep thinking about the freedom that anonymity is giving me. And yes that will change. But also the reason I want to be out and proud is mostly to help remove the stigma that surrounds people who talk about a drinking problem. It’s there – and it’s HUGE. People who love you don’t really like talking about it. They don’t really want you to share a blog about it. They might not like you talking about your past problem on social media. But what’s more important is that you do. Because when you do, you potentially help someone, as well as helping yourself, of course.
In so many senses, quitting drinking is a bumpy road. What with relapses, blips, inner monologues that tell you occasionally that you weren’t that bad (you were, so when that happens, simply ‘take out the trash’ and shut the thought down). But the bumps I find most hard to deal with are these ones. The people who don’t seem to want to support you in your journey: the hardest thing you’ve ever done.
I keep reading a meme that says: ‘If you want to find out who your real friends are get sober” and I understand it now. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t been dumped by anyone yet – but I can see how that happens. Relationships will change, people don’t want to be around you any more if you aren’t getting laropped with them. They are still into it and you’re not so that’s bound to change things.
What I’m saying is, don’t take it to heart if people you care about don’t get on board straight away. It could be for many different reasons. It can hurt, but you have to let that go. Don’t let it interfere with you staying sober.
Maybe after a year they’ll get it. Maybe they won’t. But still be proud that you are doing amazing thing that is not easy. You’ve changed your life in such a positive way.
The only thing to do when you feel the bumps in the road is to find your zen. I’ve let my meditation slip over Christmas as the kids are here, but I will get back on it – Headspace is a great free app that provides guided meditations. I found when I was using it regulatory I was more zen and peaceful. And I can feel my irritability rising now I’ve stopped. Seriously it works, give it a try.
Let’s think for a moment about the reason people don’t like what you’re doing. Could it shine a light on their own drinking? Could they be embarrassed about what your past problem says about them? Are they worried about what people might think they condoned (don’t worry there wasn’t anything too bad). Or maybe they think you are causing a fuss about nothing. Maybe they think you’ll give in and then you’ll be embarrassed? They think they know better than you?
All of these things deserve sympathy (wait, don’t laugh!). If they are struggling themselves with booze? Sympathy. If they are embarrassed but don’t have the strength of character to not care what others think? Sympathy. If they have no faith in you? Sympathy (plus, you have to prove them wrong!) If they think they know you better than you do – and really are that deluded! Sympathy. See what I mean? When you flip it, you can stop and take a minute, and just step back. Breathe.
This whole process is a learning one, and you are one step ahead. Surround yourself with those that DO support you (there are so many I’m sure) and you, my sober friend, have got this.