I spent a lot of time considering my relationship with alcohol, and whether or not it fell into the bounds of healthy, or unhealthy. Even as my self esteem and mental condition deteriorated as a result of alcohol consumption, I did not expose myself to legal trouble, my finances remained intact, I performed well at work and my family life projected love and happiness (while my wife and I struggled mightily in private). So how could I have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol?
Only my wife and the closest of family members knew the truth. No one else had any idea that alcohol was slowly chipping away at my life and my marriage. Like millions of others, I did most of my drinking in private.
Nothing to see here. Everything is fine.
While I hid behind my outward appearances, an argument raged in my head about my choice to drink. I was consumed with thoughts on my relationship with alcohol. Do I need to do something? Alcohol isn’t holding me back. People who have an unhealthy relationship with alcohol lose their jobs and forget to pick-up their children. That isn’t me. I spent hours a day wrestling with these thoughts.
I believe there really are two questions you need to ask yourself if you are concerned about your drinking: Do you think about alcohol when you’re not drinking (either anticipation of your next drink or regret from a previous experience with alcohol)? And: Is alcohol causing problems, whether big or small, in your life? If you answer, “Yes,” to those questions, then it might be worth taking a look at how alcohol fits into your life.
Before going alcohol-free
My life was full of unnecessary drama and distress when alcohol was a part of my routine. I exerted tremendous effort looking for the source of my turmoil. Did alcohol cause the fight with my wife? Do I wake at 3am almost every Monday morning full of anxiety and too depressed to get out of bed because the weekend is over, or is it because of the beer and whiskey that dominated my weekend? Are my troubles the result of the role alcohol plays in my life, or is booze nothing more than a coping mechanism with side effects I need to learn to better tolerate?
My questions missed the point. The real questions should have been: Why does it matter? Why should I care if alcohol is the cause of my problems?
One thing is absolutely true: Alcohol will never solve your problems.
When I quit drinking I found a world full of people yearning for authenticity. I found a myriad of emotions that I had no choice but to learn to experience because I could no longer drink them away. And I found the person I was meant to be hiding and cowering behind years of lies and shame. It wasn’t easy, and things definitely got worse before the healing started and my life eventually – with patience and effort – improved dramatically, because I was me. Unintoxicated. Uncovered. Unapologetic. Unashamed. Unmistakably me.
Most importantly – most surprisingly – when I stopped intoxicating my truth, I found the version of me I was born to love.
If you’d like more information on how I found that version of me I was born to be, please download my free Guide to Early Sobriety.