I considered having a drink, the reason I didn't wasn't about the booze.
A side to sobriety few discuss
Addiction is a powerful force that can take over a person's life and lead them down a dangerous path. There’s a reason I’m sober, and it’s not because alcohol made me an awesome, healthy, focused, stress-free person; it did the opposite.
I went cold turkey after 20 years (13-33 years old) of binge drinking and haven’t had a drop since; that was on 7-7-2020, or three years, six months, and seven days.
(No, I did not do the math; I use the “I am Sober” app, which tracks it for me)
This past New Year’s Eve, though, I almost reset the streak, and it wasn’t due to cravings or “my addiction taking the wheel”; it was something else, and that’s what I want to share here because I can’t be the only one facing this.
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The Numbers Don’t Matter
Do you want to know why I almost drank?
Because I wanted to share a bottle of champagne with my wife on New Year’s Eve, that was it. Both of our kids slept at a friend’s, and so on our unexpected date night, I wanted to have a relaxing time with my lady.
But I couldn’t because I quit booze and don’t drink…
But why did I quit alcohol?
I quit because I wasn’t facing some of the things that drove me to drink in the first place; for those unaware, I had a wild childhood, and the mental issues from that were compounded by my military service. Taking unresolved childhood trauma and throwing in a dash of reckless abandon supported by a warrior culture, you’ll have some demons wreaking havoc within.
On 7-7-2020, I dropped the anesthetic and started the process of facing that shit directly, and in doing so, I have literally changed who I am as a human being.
So a week past 3.5 years later, I didn’t want the alcohol to escape, to go numb, or to quiet the voices in my head; I wanted it for its celebratory nature; popping a bottle to ring in the new year sounds like a great time, right?
For me, I had to weigh all of this out, and I came to a few conclusions:
I don’t care about my streak; I stopped sharing milestones a long time ago, and except for posts like this, I never mention it. So, losing the streak of days sober means nothing to me; it’s about no booze, not a certain amount of time acquired.
I didn’t drink, which means I don’t see any value being added by booze; I am starting to feel it fits in a place that cigars hold in my mind, “are they healthy?”, no, of course not - “but do I enjoy them?” hell yeah. So I know alcohol is not healthy or good, but I could see myself enjoying it.
Can someone who was addicted to alcohol ever drop the labels and stereotypes and just have a glass when they want and skip it when they want, without all of the emphasis that goes into it? Or am I to spend the rest of my life saying, “I’m not allowed to have that?” because that doesn’t sit right with me.
Alcohol is pointless and does not make anything better, so why did I want it in the first place? I don’t want it now; I have zero desire for it whatsoever, but if there’s that one time I want it, am I never to grant myself permission to indulge?
I quit for a reason, and in a conversation with several other sober men within the Fraternity of Excellence I shared that I gave up the fight against booze, one of the only things I’ve quit, and so is that what’s driving me forward, a rematch to prove I can do it? If so, who am I trying to prove anything to?
For those struggling with alcoholism, I know it can seem like an uphill battle to stay sober. I am also aware that many who’ve successfully overcome their addiction may still, at some point, be tempted to drink again. But are we so sure that one can never return lest they fall all the way back into the trap that ensnared them in the first place?
Are there zero examples of people who’ve reset and now keep control when partaking?
The road to sobriety is a challenging one for many; others like myself flip a switch and find themselves living this life, which requires both devotion and commitment.
While it may seem like addiction talking in this piece, I want you to know I have not had a drink, and I do not want a drink anymore - but on that night, I did. I do not believe that having a glass of alcohol will equate to a relapse for everyone. For many, it may, and even a majority might fall into that category, but there are always unique experiences to these things, and that’s why I’m sharing mine.
There may be more people like me who question this, and in no way am I suggesting you grab the bottle. What I am saying is this is worth a discussion and some self-analysis; I’m over 3.5 years sober, and at 36, I will never have a glass of anything ever for the rest of my days.
I don’t know.
Recovery is not a linear journey, and it is crucial to support and understand those who have successfully overcome their addiction; it’s also important to remove the taboo and speak freely about our journey. The reason I didn’t drink wasn’t because I was afraid of losing myself to alcohol or resetting a streak; I didn’t drink because I didn’t have a reason to compare in any way to the reasons I quit. I didn’t want a headache, I didn’t want to have to drive to get the kids and be under any form of a drug in any way (yes, alcohol is a drug), and so I didn’t, but I believe I can, and maybe that’s where I’ll, stay for a while.
- Zac Small