It is easier to resist at the beginning than at the end― Leonardo Da Vinci
A journey of a thousand miles beings with one step, so said Lao Tzu the ancient Chinese philosopher. And so it is true on this journey you are about to make, or may already be on. I’d started the same journey many times before but until now I easily gave up and would find myself back out with friends, binge drinking again.
Find support to help you
But, this time I told my family and friends as soon as I’d made the decision to give up drinking and this time was different. I told them that no matter what had happened before, I was going to succeed.
Why was it going to be different this time? I’d got to that point where I deep down knew that I really didn’t want to drink anymore. I’d accepted I had a problem and faced up to my denial and surrendered. This was a first, I’d not done that before!
Commit yourself to making this change
I wrote down my goal and without thinking, I emailed it to my family and friends. It seemed the right thing to do. As soon as I’d done it and made it public in a way, I felt that I had to go through with it. I could feel my resolve strengthening. The decision seemed totally natural and the right thing to do.
My parents could see that I meant it this time and supported me, the same with friends, though not all friends. I had some that resented me giving up drinking, that somehow I was letting them down. I felt I had to be prepared to possibly lose some friends over my choice not to drink again.
I found support in these places:
- A sponsor
- Keeping a diary/journal
- The Internet
- Self help books
- Drinking sparkling water with ice & lemon – (telling everyone it was a Gin Tonic)
Early on I found someone to be my buddy, someone who I could call even if it was 4am on a weekday. My cousin had stopped drinking a few years before me and he was more than happy to help. Though I never called him at 4am, knowing that he’d pick up the phone if I called was a great help.
Keep a journal
I started to write up a diary and post notes every couple of days about how I felt and what was happening in my life. Reading back at that point about the first couple of weeks, the fact that I hadn’t hit the bottle again gave me inspiration to continue. Writing a diary for me was so important, if I hadn’t written it I might have easily lapsed back into the life of drinking.
Help and support is more easily available these days. The Internet is a huge resource, with blogs like mine, Twitter feeds, websites and charities all of which have free advice to help. The Internet is a great anonymous resource. You don’t have to be public and attend Alcohol Anonymous meetings, but you can still read about them and get information that helps and empowers you.
But you could start with your doctor who should be able to refer you to various Alcohol Support Groups in your neighbourhood. If you go to church, then you could speak to your priest or pastor for advice and help. There are also residential rehabilitation (Rehab) centres, not always for celebrities. However a week in Rehab probably won’t cure you. This process is a long and difficult one. But with the right attitude you can do it. It takes a lot of work and you should think of the phrase used in Alcoholics Anonymous, ‘one step at a time’. Because I found that it is the best way to tackle it.
Self-help books really help
I found self-help books most useful and in particular the book ‘Feel the Fear & Do It Anyway’, which I read it in a couple of days straight. It gave me tons of ideas and support. I’ve listed a number of other books that helped – see them in the right hand column on my blog under ‘These ‘Self-Help’ Books Helped Me…’
Find your new self
Going out to pubs and clubs in the early days was hard as I could feel the pull to join in and revert back to my old ways. But I bought sparkling water with ice and lemon and told those that asked that it was gin & tonic. I arrived late and kept out of rounds, I was deliberately selfish and made excuses why I couldn’t drink much. In the end I developed a taste for sparkling water, in particular the San Pellegrino. It had a nice bottle and plus I was saving a lot now I wasn’t drinking!
Learn how to say no, especially to people, who with the best of intentions (but often selfish), might suggest they can buy you a drink and look after you so you don’t drink too much. This doesn’t work. You have to learn to say no. This gets easier as the days and weeks pass. Be firm and people will soon respect that you are serious about this new journey you find yourself on.
Support will mean different things to all of us. Find the things that help support you and stay true to your aims and goals.
Don’t give up, the hardest bit is at the start, then it gets easier and easier. It’s true.
Read more now on the next step, Reward Yourself. – Step Three.
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