Have you ever met someone so into recovery you almost feel like their new addiction is to meetings? You almost want to tell them they need a meeting to help ween them from all the meetings they are going to? It was hard for me to go to meetings because endlessly talking about drinking did not seem like a good idea to help me not drink. Also, they just seemed lame. Unfortunately, I've had to face the fact that anything that was getting in between me and a beer I made into something negative...and usually that negative association was that of being un-cool. Yes, I like to feel cool. That's not to say that these meetings are a panacea. There is a place in the book, and ya'll know what book I'm talking about, that describes the guy who has been a complete A-hole then turns his life around and becomes so dedicatory to helping others who have his same ailment that he neglects the people in his life just like he was when he was using/drinking. I know, I know...it's all part of the process, I get that, I also get that it's kinda lame behavior. By lame I mean it's not the perfect balancing act, it's not entirely the right thing to do. If making amends is as important as helping others than maybe spending too much time on your self-help isn't the right thing to do. Maybe the right thing to do is kill two birds with one stone and drop a meeting or two and dedicate the time to helping those you've pissed off, how bout that? When you are helping others it takes the time and space you'd be pouring vodka down the alpine slide of your esophagus. I'm not dissing on meetings, in fact, I wanted to mention the benefits of meetings while simultaneously airing some grievances because another thing I've learned is...when you make a bad list follow it with a good one. When you write down your fears, follow that with things you are grateful for. I'm not gonna stop complainin' so I better start learning how to say thank-you.
Meetings are amazing BECAUSE when you are an alcoholic it is hard to connect emotion to the degrading effects of alcohol because you were numb to those feelings while you were drinking. I call it “It’s all good amnesia”. Maybe you had a really horrible night, went to jail and swore off drinking forever. A couple weeks later you feel healthy and fine, but still would like to take the edge off and you convince yourself it’s okay to drink again. It’s no different than going back to an abusive spouse, “Oh, he’s not that bad.” Meetings remind you why you are not getting back into that relationship. It’s like having a group of friends that knew everything you went through and can say, “But he did this and this and this” while you try and justify him/it. At the end of the meeting you’re like “You’re right, he sucks.” When you admit you are powerless you are acknowledging that you do not have the capacity to see drinking for what it is because it is a "disease that tells you, you don't have a disease." As alcoholics we have to constantly be reminded of why we are not drinking because we're so strongly connected to the initial feel of that first drink that we forget the end result is not so tasty.
10 Things to say to someone who tells you to stop drinking
QUITTING ALCOHOL MYTH #1: WEIGHT LOSS
Since quitting drinking I’ve gained twenty pounds. You’d think cutting out 4,000 empty calories a week would slim you right down. This was a large part of my incentive…the idea that I would be able to get into great-ish shape and then go back to sipping cocktails in style.
QUITTING ALCOHOL MYTH #2: DETOX
My best friend used to say he knew I was about to go on a week long bender any time I mentioned I was going on a cleanse. I’d buy a flushing system at Whole Foods and three days later I’d be gung-ho in the other direction not answering my phone for days passed out in a random. People who tend to over do it apply that same philosophy to everything. Exit Booze, enter energy drinks. Exit Whiskey stage left, enter a bunch of candy wrappers in the top drawer stage right. Aaaand cut!
QUITTING ALCOHOL MYTH #3: CASUAL SEX WILL END
Unfortunately, as my weight steadily inclines so does my romantic sex drive. So now not only am I a total teetotaler, I’m on the prowl constantly making me a total D totaller. You have to replace drinking with something and since developing a relationship takes time (ain’t nobody got time for that!) it’s easy to settle and settle to be easy.
QUITTING ALCOHOL MYTH #4: YOU WILL INSTINCTIVELY KNOW HOW TO HANDLE LIFE SITUATIONS
With the instincts of a hawk on fire you will navigate aggressively through life as if any desk side chat were a fight or flight survival situation. Now any time plans change or you go through a job change or a change of address, any time you have to change your voicemail or your socks it seems like a MAJOR event, full of anticipation, anxiety and self-doubt. But alas, your new set of coping skills have arrived, they involve coffee and a bed. Time to buy gourmet coffee and a super cozy mattress because when you’re not hyper-vigilating to co-workers about who drank your red bull you’ll find solace in calming your bedridden nerves with 200 mg’s.
QUITTING ALCOHOL MYTH #5: YOU WILL BECOME MORE STABLE
If you thought you were a non-emotional go-getter before, you’ve now discovered that you are a bi-polar baby, no better to care for yourself than Charlie Sheen sans tiger blood or an infantile crocodile waking up in a dumpster. Luckily, you can Youtube and Google “how to be stable” and just follow what appears to be 2,394 easy steps.
QUITTING ALCOHOL MYTH #6: PEOPLE WILL SUPPORT YOU
Soon after quitting you will have this Aha! revelation where you realize that you are the same asshole you were when you were drinking. When you discover that everyone else has already had that Aha! moment you will literary be forced to invent someone that thinks you are cool or “a higher power”. In fact, you can invent as many of these as you want, just know that if you start addressing them loudly more real (actual) people will be deterred from hanging out with you.
QUITTING ALCOHOL MYTH #7: YOU’LL BE SMARTER
If knowing quotes makes you smarter than you are a true genius. Instead of responding with quick and relevant remarks, you’ll be puking toilet amounts of stock quotes like “hanging onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”. You’ll be the guy that sounds wise until someone else points out “didn’t Woody Allen say that?” or “Hey, wasn’t that Beyonce?” but alas, you have your higher power(s) that will listen to your quotes all day and validate you through your Youtube guided meditations.
QUITTING ALCOHOL MYTH #8: YOU WILL BE RESTORED TO SANITY
So now your twenty pounds heavier, an emotional wreck with an invisible higher power and the instincts of the MOAB. The only thing that could make you more insane is telling yourself that you ARE sane. In your mind booze restored you to sanity and sobriety has made you an angry slut that flaunts your post-drinking body like a large glob of fudge on two popsicle sticks. But, ya know, “Believe you can and you’re halfway there!” ←does that even work right there?
So wait, you mean when I quit using alcohol to feel instantly good the side effects are weight gain, higher need for intimacy, poor coping skills, social anxiety and general awkwardness? Oh yeah!!
A writer living in Portland, OR looking to meet Chuck Palahniuk. Single mom to 2 boys, sales agent and lawyer-in-training.