How I Knew I was Ready to Quit Drinking
"I don't know if I want to stop."
As much as I hear that statement and as much as I loathe that statement, I get it. I did not know if I wanted to give it up either, until I knew. So, the question should be, "how do I get to the point where I want to give it up?"
You get there when your gratitude outweighs your want to drink. It is the same for addicts and non-addicts. I told someone the other day that wasn't sure he wanted to quit to journal these two questions. He goes to AA, has been for 2 years. But, he keeps pushing back his detox date and I simply asked why? He, like we all do, said, "I don't know if I want to quit." He's successful. He is wealthy. He has a beautiful family. He has a ton to be grateful for by society's standards. You can tell he is grateful for those things. He can list those things so easily. He's not yet grateful for the intangible yet.
So, I told him. Maybe try journalling. Answer these two questions every morning right when you wake up.
1. What does it feel like when I don't drink?
If your answers to this question is "I don't know," keep writing "I don't know" until something else comes out. It'll come. I can tell you that when I didn't drink I was lonely. I was sad. I was hungry. I was a thousand different emotions. I couldn't handle stress. I couldn't sleep. I couldn't find anything to occupy my time other than drinking. I was bored. I looked forward to my first glass of wine. What would I look forward to without it? How would I be social? There was a long list of things that I felt when I didn't drink. And, most were just uncomfortable, but some were downright terrifying. When I did drink, I felt better. It took up time. It kept feelings at bay. It stopped the uneasiness.
2. What am I grateful for in my life?
My family, my career, my dogs, my health, my home...you know that list. That is everyone's list. They are wonderful things to be grateful for, and alcohol did not ruin these things for me. I didn't "lose everything" like some think the turning point is. Some people do lose these things and that is their wakeup call or their rock bottom per se. I had not lost my pretty picture. I was fine in all areas of money/job/family. If it is not hurting any of the things I am thankful for, why stop? Then, one day I woke up after a nap and thought, "I am so grateful that nothing bad happened last night." It wasn't a feeling of shame or regret for the stupid things that happened like usual. It was gratitude. Say what?!?! Gratitude for something that is indescribable. Gratitude for something not happening. Gratitude replaced my guilt. That particular incident was just one of thousands of episodes of stupidity that could've resulted in something and didn't. But, I woke up differently. I was ready to stop. I was grateful for something that I could not put my finger on-THE INTANGIBLE. Then something else happened. My gratitude got bigger. Instead of being grateful for nothing bad happening last night...I started thinking, "I am grateful for not killing myself or someone else in the past 20 years." That is the game changing thought process.
We all have our starting points or in this case, stopping points. That was just my decision to stop drinking. The process of quitting has been a whole different ball game. But, I can tell you one thing, I am still grateful for the bad things that never happened. They could have.