“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.

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Giving wings to this burden

“So what is it about drinking that makes you not want to stop?” asked my mental health nurse, today.

I had to think about it for awhile.

“I have no sense of time”, I replied.
“When I’m boozed, every moment is just that: a moment. Every booze night is nothing but a series of NOW with no thought about the future. I don’t get sick, I don’t get tired. I can drink beer for 20 hours and never throw up, never pass out. My body doesn’t know it should stop, my mind certainly doesn’t want to stop, and before I know it, the sun is up, I’m incoherent and the world crashes in on me again, taking me away from what is basically a magical place of No Worrying, hurling me into a place of pure self-hatred and regret”.

I lose days to drinking. The 12 – 18 hours of the drinking, plus the day or two hangover and comedown that sees me unable to move from the couch, crying at the drop of a hat.

I can’t do it any more. If I want a future, a life that is fulfilling, I just have to face the fact that it cannot involve alcohol.

I’ve made this decision on numerous occasions, but for the first time, it’s a relief. It isn’t something I feel I have to do to please others, this decision is solely for me, this time. It isn’t something I feel conflicted about. I am not sad that I will never share another wine with my mother, or drunk karaoke sing with my friends. Sure, I will miss those moments and I will struggle with them, but I’ve finally reached that place where all of that comes second to giving myself the very best chance that I have to live the life I dream about.

With any luck, my GP will prescribe me the magic no-booze pills that will help me to stay on track. If not, well, I’ll have to smack myself up the face every time I think about having a drink. I want one with every fibre of my being, but that feeling will pass. The self-hatred and disappointment of a binge is what stays with me forever.

It’s been a long and shitty road, but I’m so incredibly happy to be done with it. You cannot imagine the weight that has been lifted from my shoulders.

Onwards and upwards, amigos!