Sober Curious-Advice for a Friend or a loving reminder to myself)
When walking in the mountains last week, we came upon this ledge we had to pass. It looks harmless in the photo, but in reality, it was less than 12" wide in parts, and the drop seemed lethal. It was paralyzing at times to put one foot in front of the other, but we knew we had to get to the other side where our destination awaited.
September 6, 2020 - Day 68 - I had an email from a friend who asked me what tools I used when I was feeling like negative people or thoughts made me feel like I couldn't succeed. Here is what I wrote to her:
All that I can speak about is my own journey of course, and for me, my current voyage of change and self discovery is to try to eliminate alcohol from my life for several reasons. Some of those reasons I share with certain friends, and with some of my other friends, I actually haven't shared my journey at all!
I guess the reason for this is that I have different friendships for different reasons. What I'm realizing, in this now 68 day journey, is that some of those friends were really only my 'wine-mom' buddies. That, if I really think about it, those people don't give me any value to my life except for a reason to hit a patio and drink 3-4 glasses of wine. Those friends are still pretty stuck in their own journeys. Continuing to make up the same excuses that I do when I'm drinking. So, we really don't have anything in common at the moment. For those friends whom I've shared my journey, which there are FEW; I have told them because we connect on a deeper level. We talk about our 'whys' in life, we are vulnerable with each other about our failings and desires to be different, to be a better version of us. For some of these friends, they would like to give alcohol a break too, but just aren't at that place yet. But they support ME. They even go as far to say they are proud of me, and a little envious. For the friends who don't necessarily understand how my habit became something I desperately wanted to change, they don't judge, but rather, they say, 'wow, that is so important to you, it must be hard and I'm proud of you'. So I guess what I'm even learning in writing this, is that my closest, dearest friends aren't making my journey about them.
Perhaps my age (54) has something to do with the friends that I currently keep. After living in 4 cities and meeting many wonderful people I call friends, there are really only a select few I remain in contact with after all these years. These are the people who care about Ronda. The Ronda who either drinks or doesn't drink. The Ronda who is going through a 'running' phase, or no exercise at all. The Ronda who is not eating carbs, or who wants to kill a burger and all the fries.
So that is how I handle the 'external' negative nellies in my life. Now I have to be completely honest with you. The times when I have the biggest struggles is when I am battling that internal voice of my OWN that is negative. In my journey, I call that voice Wolfie (thank you to my sober coach Belle tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com). Wolfie says, "this is all too hard", "Life is boring when not drinking", "Major events are more fun, less sad when drinking", "I feel much less stress after a drink", "you are never going to succeed, so why bother continuing to count days?", "you are a failure, have never stuck to anything for good, so what makes you think this will stick?". I have learned this voice in my head is fleeting. It's a passing moment of doubt. I can look at my journey these last 68 days and recognize all the hard stuff, the stressful stuff, the SAD stuff, the stuff that actually wasn't boring; and recognize I did it ALL without a drink. Also - I have now quit smoking for 19 years as of September 4th, so I CAN change my habits. So my Wolfie voice can be quieted. The longer I change my habits, the quieter Wolfie gets. I have some AMAZING tools I have used to help me this time. I will list them so that maybe there will be something here that applies to your journey:
- I created an anonymous instagram account and joined the non-drinking community. There are so many inspirational people out there who are longer in their journey who inspire me
- I screenshot memes from instagram, facebook, anywhere I find something that 'hits' me, and I save it in a special photo album I call "inspiration" for when I need a boost
- I have an ongoing list of 'whys' that I keep in my phone and read them daily as part of my morning meditation. When that Wolfie voice acts up, those 'whys' seem to fade so it's nice to have a visual reminder
- I found an online women's group (womenforsobriety.org) who has morning zoom meetings. They aren't anonymous of course because they can see my face, but it was my first vulnerable step to meet other people who 'get' me. It was a really great thing to do. It shows me that women all over the world are going through similar journeys as myself. We all have different stories, but we all have a common goal
- I created this anonymous blog. It's not well-read (I don't think I have any idea what I'm doing in the blog world), but it's really just an accountability tool for me to reflect upon my journey. I am so damned tired of journaling, this was another way to do it
- I hired a 'coach' specific to my alcohol free journey (tiredofthinkingaboutdrinking.com) This allows me some one on one emailing, some podcasts, a couple of one on one phone calls. Another accountability tool
- I have immersed myself in audiobooks for my daily walks. Memoirs, non-fiction books about the effects of alcohol, podcasts. The side benefit is I walk longer because I love listening to this stuff! I love having someone else's voice in my head.
- I specifically chose not to partake in a 12 step program because of several personal reasons. I do not feel like I am in alignment with its philosophies, and mostly because if and when I choose to drink again it's on me, pure and simple. HOWEVER, I have a few family members who are part of these programs, and they are extremely useful for many people. It's another way to meet people who can relate to your journey
- I took a 'before' picture on the morning of my Day 1. Yikes - that says it all lol.
- I bought a piece of jewelry that I wear that reminds me daily of my 'why'.
- I reward myself with 'treats'. Maybe a small frostie, maybe a nice pack of pens (I love pens!), or a perfect coffee/tea mug. Even the gift of 'time' can be rewarding: Wandering through a bookstore without even buying anything is a treat for me! The act of saying "I am buying this for myself because I didn't drink today" is very empowering
The biggest take-away from this blabbering is that it is your choice to have people in your life who make you feel bad about yourself and your choices.. I realized that in my past, sometimes it was actually 'Wolfie" who put those people in my path to make me fail. You absolutely cannot control what people think, feel or how they behave. You have no idea what their 'whys' are on any given day. You have no idea what torment goes through their mind when they see you doing your proactive work. What other people do is NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Let that shit go, I have shown you that there is a plethora of work you can do for yourself without focusing on the external. That is just noise. You can only do you. So if people start to feel negative, maybe ask yourself if that is something you need right now. Think about other people outside of your group that you might not have thought of as secret cheerleaders of your cause. Funny, the first person I told that I was giving wine a break was a friend whom I don't speak to on a daily basis, but she was the one I thought would hear me and accept me for the journey I was embarking on. I was right!
I have no idea if any of this resonates with you, but it's what moved me to write this morning. At the very least, you have given me a perfect tool to add back to my toolbox to read the next time I am feeling vulnerable. So thank you and please reach out. xox