“I won’t” – The positives of negative reinforcement

I’ve written many times of the things I will or have missed about drinking when contemplating sobriety. Today, I’d like to write about the things I won’t miss about drinking. After all, these are the things I need to remember, most of all.

To begin with, I won’t miss the hangovers that crippled me, sometimes for days, and the ensuing depression that lingered another two. From now on, every single day of the week will belong to me, to my unaffected brain.

I will no longer spend Mondays at work wanting to cry through a comedown, or staring listlessly at the computer, unable to concentrate on anything but that black mood that engulfs me.

My partner will never again be woken by me pouring another drink, then crashing into walls on my way to the bathroom, where I will throw my fingers down my throat in a vain attempt to vomit – and then drink the glass I poured.

I won’t have to shoulder the burden of guilt I feel after every binge.

I won’t miss my alarm waking me on a work day, my sandpaper eyeballs scratching against my eyelids as I weave my still-drunk way to the bathroom, to sway in the shower, holding the walls to stay upright.

I won’t miss the smell of alcohol sweat soaking into my clothing so that I avoid standing close to people all day – not the easiest task when you’re a departmental secretary, responsible for admin duties for 6 other people.

Nor will I miss that nasty film that coats my tongue and throat, despite numerous teeth-brushings and mouthwash rinses. That cloud of alcohol that hits my nose each time I breathe out, or answer the phone, reminding me of just what a failure I am.

I won’t miss the alcohol-acne that erupts on my face or the extreme sensitivity of my skin the day after drinking. My entire body feels bruised and broken, and I sweat and shiver and need a sleeping pill to knock myself out until it wears off.

I will never again speak harsh and crazy words to my partner, words he can’t even confront me about the next day because my memory was wiped out long before I uttered them.

I will never again lay my hands on another person or have to live with the flashbacks of doing so. It is still something I am unable to forgive myself for, and an image I will never erase from my memory.

Never again will I feel the need to obliterate myself from the lives of my loved ones, running both from their hurt and their anger, as well as their love and concern for a girl who doesn’t feel she deserves it.

No. From now until forever, my life will be mine. My decisions and their fallout will be decisions that I have made with the full knowledge of doing so. My relationship won’t be a rollercoaster of the deep love we share during my sober moments, which are then destroyed or halted by the alcohol dive. Instead it will be a true partnership, one where I do not need to be taken care of, or watched closely lest something go wrong.

Above all, I will finally be able to trust myself and no longer be a burden to those who care about me.

Any messes that I make in my life will not be soaked in whiskey or wine. The eradication of guilt from those moments will mean I can deal with them, instead of hiding from them.

And maybe, just maybe, without the influence of alcohol, my brain will be allowed to grow up. To learn new coping skills, to recall words, books, songs I loved but lost between the broken circuits.

From now on, I will actually live, rather than passively float to and from the shore as the lying peace of alcohol lifts me on a wave before dumping me heartlessly on dry, grating sand.

For the first time in 9 years, I will be in control of my life’s destination with no poison to influence that control.

I am more than ready to leave my past behind me. My future is finally mine.


15 thoughts on ““I won’t” – The positives of negative reinforcement

  1. Quite stark and resonant. I am a wife of an alcoholic and have a blog documenting his sobriety for the last two years. I found you doing a search of sobriety. I really appreciate your drop dead honesty and I am sure you feel so much better. There is no reason I can think of why a admin sctry of 8 people should have such a self loathing but I do not know your whole story. Thank you for your blog.

    • Thank you for your comment, I will check your blog out.
      My self-loathing is probably what led me to drinking in the first place, and then the drinking made me hate myself more – it’s a vicious cycle that I have to end if I want any semblance of happiness in my life.

      I have nothing but respect for you, standing by your husband throughout his struggle.

      The partners, family and carers of addicts have reservoirs of strength that I cannot even fathom.

      Thank you so much for your comment x

  2. I AM SO PROUD!! And happy for you! And excited for all the good things that will be coming your way. When I quit getting high I couldn’t imagine being straight for the rest of my life. So on ALL my wallpapers and screen savers I have three words…Just For Today. I made no promises or predictions for tomorrow but every morning started with ,”Just for today I will be sober.I may seriously f$ck up tomorrow but TODAY I will not get high. It’s been seven years one day at a time. Hang tough lil’ girl.

  3. I just want to say…I think you’re a great writer. And since you’re obviously meant to write, it seems like a great way to fight your personal demons. I couldn’t agree more that blogging is the cheapest form of therapy. There is something to “putting stuff out there” where people can see it. And thanks for also following me – I’m honored. Good luck!

    • Thank you!

      I am glad you enjoy my writing. I have a long, long way to go with it, but hopefully, without the disturbance of drinking and hangovers and depression, that will come along much easier now 🙂

  4. Wow. Really powerful. Thank you for being so raw in your writing. And I feel like I hear the sense that you are moving on toward forgiving yourself for things that happened while you are drunk and i hope that you find that peace. You are in control – your writing as an outlet is an amazing way to keep your focus on where you want to be.

    “Any messes that I make in my life will not be soaked in whiskey or wine. The eradication of guilt from those moments will mean I can deal with them, instead of hiding from them.”

    I think you are doing an amazing job. What you are doing is not easy. It’s brave and you are taking it one day and one step at a time.


  5. There is a ton of power in saying no. Everything you are declaring for yourself I can take to heart myself. I am more determined to stop the self-abuse after reading your post.

  6. Awesome use of negative reinforcement!! It can be so easy to think on the things that you could be missing out on when you decide to make a life change like you (and I) did! It is a whole other thing to remind ourselves that it wasn’t a life worth living and remind ourselves why that is the case! For me its not just alcohol but many other unhealthy choices… I know how hard it is! I’m so proud of you for using this as a way to remind yourself what you want to live for and how you want to live. Your writing style is great and I always like reading what you write! Take care hon and keep up the good work!!

  7. The description of this ‘cure’ for unhappiness should give anyone pause for thought. Life is imperfect, unpredictable and tough enough as it is. To have to battle out of this cure, yet another hurdle to jump. What’s the saying? ‘The cure is worse than the symptons’? Something like that. Perhaps anyone contemplating (or battling) this cure could print this post, find a fridge magnet and read it every now and then. Keep the strength growing, Bruce.

    • Thanks Bruce.
      This year I realised that life is a battle, it’s just that we all have different battles to fight. I’ve just discovered that the whole point is to keep fighting, particularly when the fight is against the part of you that always takes the easy, instant gratification way out!
      There’s no personal growth down that path!

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