Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Give it Up, Give it Up Again...





A blog friend recently had a relapse. That sounds so clinical, though, doesn't it? It sounds better to me to say a blog friend recently chose to drink after a little over a month sober. And we all get it. If you're reading this you probably have, at least once, told yourself that you were going to quit drinking. And then you probably drank again. I have promised myself to stay sober and then drank myself silly. Again, and again, and again. Until that last time.

I can't make guarantees that you will deep down believe since you haven't known me long. And some days I don't believe that I will never, ever, EVER??? drink again. I haven't known me long either. But in my heart I know. I know I can't. I know I just plain flat out don't want to. I don't want to. At the end of a hard day, or a sunny day, or a day that I'm alive there is just not a reason for me to drink. Period. I don't crave it, I don't want it. I don't miss it.

I don't miss it.

I'm reading this great, great great book by Augusten Burroughs called This is How. He talks about a lot of different things. I'm on this part now about drinking and he says basically this: It is not hard to quit drinking. You just don't drink. You decide that sobriety is more important than being drunk. Period. And if you drink then you've decided that being drunk is more important than sobriety. And that the past is the past. It doesn't make you who you are today. I think I drank for as long as I did because I believed that was who I was: Amy who drinks and wishes she could quit. That was the core of my identity. It was all I thought about. Either drinking, or quitting. Every day. Over and over and over. Years and years. And fucking years. It was my second job, all that thinking about drinking.

Surrender is a funky kind of word. It can mean you throw back your arms and head and let the world come at you like a breeze. It can mean you become small and lose yourself to fear. It can mean you give up every belief you have about yourself because maybe, just maybe you were wrong about you. I was wrong about me.

Surrender means you give up. Here though: have another perspective. Instead of surrendering to booze, or surrendering to the idea that you are powerless (NEVER, ever, ever are you powerless over booze. EVER.) Surrender to sobriety. Surrender yourself to strength. Don't surrender to a higher power- be a higher power. And no, I don't mean start calling yourself God. But I do mean create a universe. I do mean create days and nights. And light. I do mean make a life. And on some days rest.

I'm gonna tell you this: If you will not or don't want to surrender you will find a reason to drink again. You will find an excuse. You will reason it out in your head all the whys why it's OK this one time. And you'll get drunk and you'll be sad about it later. Or even while you're doing it. You'll pull out the powerless card and throw it on the table alongside your glass of booze and cry inside "But I need it!!! I can't live without it!!! Why can't I have it?" Surrender. Because you can't. You just fucking can't. Give it up. Out of all the glorious things in life there is only one thing you cannot have: alcohol. Drop that shit like a bad habit. Cede from the land of booze. Abandon that baby. And don't look back.



25 comments:

  1. I've just read your story from the beginning and wow, you capture the essence and moods so well. Your posts are thought provoking, evocative and just downright wonderful. Thank you for sharing, having this sober blogging community to follow has really helped me stay the course. I feel exactly the same as you - I was ready and this is starting to feel like my new normal. Although I'm only at 51 days, so i don't want to jinx it ;)

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    1. Thank you. 51 days. Hurrah!

      It is your new normal. :)

      Sober blogging community rocks! :)

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  2. cheers, she says, raising her glass of tea. Give it up. Move on :)

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  3. I do think about drinking sometimes, I thought about it just 22 minutes ago when I read a post written by someone that has learned to moderate successfully, for almost 3 years. For an instance I thought maybe I could try again, now that I have all this time and distance,(560+ days) now that I've learned so much.

    But I won't. My Brother-in-law asked me recently if I could have just one or two glasses of wine and I said, "Maybe, but I don't want to risk it, not now, not after I've gotten everything back, and then some." It would be a slap in the face to my HP, who is not me.

    I don't think you have to run from those questions or thoughts about drinking, I don't think you have to scuttle them to the back of your mind, never to be looked at or played with because they are too dangerous. Take them out, look at them, see them for what they are, relics from your past that are no longer useful or as pretty as we once thought, in fact they have all kinds of blemishes, and tear stains, the faint whiff of decay.
    Throw them out, those thoughts, one by one, as you come across them. You don't need them anymore.

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    1. I don't want to try it either. I tried it for twenty some years and it didn't work. OK pudding, I see your proof. I don't think I need to try to prove it to myself anymore- drinking doesn't work for me. :)

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  4. If you blogging friend drank once, I wouldn't call it a relapse & s/he doesn't lose those days of sobriety. It's a slip. Pick yourself up, dust yourself up & start over.

    Also, nice post & nice way of explaining surrendering.

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    1. I don't like the word relapse either. And call it what you may, it's still drinking. But it's just drinking, it's not giving up. There's a huge difference, don't you think?

      Thanks. :)

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  5. This is such a great post Amy, I am loving your writing. So great you are here and blogging and sober! You've nailed it exactly, and that is why I haven't relapsed and never will touch alcohol ever again in my life. Because despite the difficult emotional times I just do not want to drink alcohol again, so I struggle through sober, and always will. Sometimes it's hard. Most of the time it's glorious. Quietly, consistently glorious... xxxx

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    1. Thank you. Consistently glorious. Yes.

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  6. Amy, I love this post. This is exactly how I feel. I have tried over and over to moderate, "take a break" or quit. I had days and weeks at a time without any alcohol. Recently though, I have decided that this is it - I am done with drinking and thinking about it. I have been at war with myself over drinking or not drinking for too long.

    So, here I am 7 days sober. And, 13/last 14 days have been sober days! Drinking is off the table for me. This sober blogging has been the absolute most helpful support I could imagine!

    Thank you Amy, Belle, Why Dry and Mrs. D. - I love your writings - they mirror my experiences, thoughts and desires! I am doing what Belle says, Do what you did yesterday, don't drink, take a bath, exercise, drink something fizzy. The change in thinking is wonderful. I must have been ready. I know it's early - but I feel so different this time! Thank you sober bloggers! Jenny

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    1. Seven days is a huge accomplishment- the first days are so hard. High fives!

      Belle is a smart cookie. Take care of you- that's the part that makes it easier- suddenly you're your own best friend. With a sparkly glass of seltzer and fresh flowers. And no hangovers or wars with self.

      Keep on truckin' Jenny! :) xoxoxo

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  7. I love the thinking process in your post, it's wonderful and I relate to a lot of it. I love the idea of surrender to sobriety! But I do also say that I am powerless over alcohol, because once I put it in my body I loose control. I didn't want to look at it that way either, I mean how can I be powerless over booze? Don't I get to decide to drink or not to drink? Yes, there I have power, I get to choose. But if I make the decision to drink and drink, then for me all bets are off, one becomes 2 and then 10 drinks, and in that instance I am powerless. Thanks for the great post!

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    1. Thank you. :)

      I don't think you're powerless even when you drink. Foolish maybe. But powerless? No way. That's not true. You always always always have power over what you chose to do. The booze isn't what's powerful- it's the feelings that go along with it. And since your feelings come from inside you, then you've totally got this situation under control. If you have to wear a cape to remind yourself that you're super ultra powerful then... :)

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  8. Oh my dear sweet wonderful sobersphere friend, who writes so very beautifully and powerfully, and whose words always make so much sense to me - thank you. I read this several times and it made me quite teary but mostly in a good way. Admittedly also out of some frustration and sorrow but mostly out of hope and recognition of truth and feeling touched you chose to write about this. (I'm assuming this is referring to my recent relapse. Of course it might not be but that would be fine too because the words would be no less powerful nor less helpful to others.)

    I've been thinking so much about surrender of late and so I loved your descriptions of it because I was having trouble understanding what it really means in regards to drinking or if I've gotten there. (Or how will I *know* if I've gotten there?) Is it that deep down in the pit of your stomach despair of having drank again and hating yourself for it? Is it that AA talk of a spiritual awakening - a moment of clarity where you see the light and, halle-fucking-lujah the obsession is removed? Is it a totally defeated throwing one's hands up in the air saying 'that's it, i'm done. I'm fucking done'? I would much rather see surrender as that place of strength you describe - where you realise you can't have just this one little thing but that's ok because you're choosing to sky dive into a sometimes scary but ultimately much better place and it's good and there's a smile on your face in that certainty.

    I loved 'This is How' too and that chapter on quitting drinking. Another thing that stayed with me from that is when he talks about how ultimately the solution to alcoholism lies within the addict - that all these books, blogs, AA meetings etc can inspire and inform you but at the end of the day the cure lies in your actions and choices.

    Thinking about choosing that type of surrender sure makes me feel stronger than just feeling powerless, hopeless and full of fear and I so often have when it comes to drinking and relapsing.

    Lilly xoxo

    p.s. We're also once again on the same reading vibe as I've just been reading Burrough's 'Magical Thinking' and while not recovery related - at least not so far - it's absolutely hilarious.

    p.p.s. Anon, if it is indeed me Amy was referring to then I'd say three nights in a row of binge drinking is a relapse, not a slip, albeit hopefully a short-lived one!

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    1. I love the description of being powerful. I think that is some of the difficulty I have had attending AA meetings in the past... this surrender to being powerless - that never felt good or helpful to me. I feel strong in deciding each day not to drink and taking care of myself.
      That is truly powerful and is working for me. Day 8 today. Started Feb 4th - had a slip on Fat Tuesday - started over. 17 out of past 18 days have been sober day. I am grateful to have found these wonderful women who are writing about sobriety in way I finally relate to!! This has been my moment of clarity - I don't need a label or a program. I make a choice today not to drink - That's Halle-fuckin-lujah! Jenny

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    2. Lilly it was you, but you knew that! :)

      I don't think there's a giant bolt of lightning or voice of God that says, "IT'S TIME NOW!" I think that you, bare naked you says in a shy voice, "We can do this now." And then you might have to try again.

      But. If you feel ready, and your voice steps up, listen. Don't listen to that voice that tells you it's OK to have one, or you don't have a problem, or you can do it later. Life is short. Do it now. Be bold, and powerful. Be magic. :)

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  9. I will preface my comments by saying that I am an AA boy, so my frame of reference is aligned with that program of recovery. Having said that now, I have always been open in how others have found sobriety and other plans of recovery. Sober and happy is sober and happy? Why break apart that loving duo?

    The way I see it, surrender doesn't come from a place of weakness or now succumbing to the whims of the world and becoming a doormat. At least not in this context. I was describing this in another blog, and how I see it is that every time I battle booze / alcoholism, I am in the boxing ring. Alcoholism lays a beating on me, I go to my corner and I come back out for another round. Get my ass whooped again. Go back in the corner. Every time I have that little thought in my head that "this time it will be different" or "you can still drink, just make sure this time you...[fill in the blank]" then I am getting back in the ring. To me, surrender is when I take the gloves off and hang them up. I am done fighting. No more. I am DONE. That was my surrender. I realized that I couldn't do it any more. I had no fight.

    Now, I totally agree with what you say that without surrender, we will find a way to drink. Absolutely. All those who struggle with this and are back and forth I feel have a struggle with surrender. Laying down of arms and saying "I just know now that I cannot do this." I know for me, I can never have a drink of alcohol. Again. Ever. If I have one drink, I am off to the races, and will burn my life down to the ground again. I probably won't come back this time. In my surrender, I found strength! I ceased fighting, I ceased swearing off, I ceased being powerless. I found power in my Higher Power (that's the AA in me - feel free to disagree or come to a power of sorts in your own way!). That's how I stay sober.

    Surrender is key to all of our sobriety. The more we fight it, the more we heighten it, as I like to say. Laying down the gloves and going to take a nice hot shower...that's what I am talking about.

    Have a wonderful sober and loving day :)
    Paul

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    1. Higher power can be whatever you make it- God, Jesus, you, all of the above. We all cope and manage differently- how pretty.

      I agree with you- the more I fought and wished and promised myself I was going to fight fight fight the more I was driven to drink. As soon as I surrendered and stopped giving the fuel to the fire I got stronger. I got power. I got sober.

      Cheers. :)

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  10. Amazing post. Absolutely spot on. Finally, someone who GETS IT!?!? The surrender part, the higher power, the "powerlessness"...it's these non-AA takes on these concepts, *personalized,* thoughtful, DIFFERENT takes on these ideas that MAKE IT WORTH IT TO KEEP TRYING. Thank you, Amy. Now, onto Week 21...and continuing to try, at least, to Surrender with a capital S. xx

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    1. AA is not the only way. Anything that wants me to believe I'm powerless? I'm not going for it. AA works for some, but it doesn't fit me. I can surrender and be the strongest I have ever been. xoxo

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  11. Great post! I never liked the AA concept of surrendering to a HP either. I struggled for a long time against the idea that I had to quit entirely and forever. When I finally admitted that I was NEVER going to drink like a normal person, it was like a big load off my shoulders, and it felt like surrender in the sense of not having to fight anymore. It wasn't surrendering to sobriety so much as surrendering the idea of being a drinker, letting it go.

    Seems to be working--it'll be four years this month.

    Thanks for getting me thinking about this!

    Susan

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  12. It has long been my contention (sober almost 29 years in AA) that the only thing I am powerless over is alcohol. Once I take a drink I lose the power of choosing - the craving & mental obsession commence. I found it beneficial to avow NEVER to drink again from the get go - I knew it was over, that I had flunked drinking

    Sally

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  13. Thanks for mentioning the Augusten Burroughs' book. I forgot I have that on my iPod. I will have to listen to it when in traffic.
    And thanks for this post. I don't know how to follow posts that are not on wordpress but I have bookmarked your blog. I have tried quitting several times the past 12 years but I never fully surrendered to the idea of sobriety. I have changed my view from "don't want to drink" to "I CAN NOT drink!" I am only 63 days sober but I feel I do not miss the taste nor the feeling. And I really like myself better as a sober person. And I like liking myself.

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