It’s been nearly a year now since I stopped ingesting ethanol. Time has flown, and I am just so happy that I don’t do that any more. No so-called sobriety here, I am free and clear and happy.
I think one of the reasons why so many 12-steppers and people who adhere to common popular myths and language around ethanol are always on the edge of so-called “relapse” as if their “disease” might resurface and end their “recovery” (read remission) at any moment, is that: Once those addictive pathways were paved into your gray matter, all it takes is that proverbial “just one” to render an old overgrown dirt path back into a super highway. This is why it’s essential to stay alert and aware of what’s going on in your head and body, and to treat certain ideas like the useless, and potentially harmful, thought forms they are.
Many people who have several months of freedom under their belts have mentioned that they have had sudden cravings for a drink. This caused me to look deeply into my own thoughts, and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to an occasional tiny inkling of feeling so free and okay that “just a little” might not hurt. But I know better.
It’s because we’ve become relaxed around it, and just by habit we are not as vigilant as we were in the earlier weeks and months when we were actively breaking the cycle. We aren’t as highly conscious of every smarmy beer, wine, and liquor advertisement we see and hear; we gloss over all that romantic, celebratory, fine dining, mommy juice blather we see on Facebook. If not seen for what they are, all of those subliminal messages can dig down and shake hands with that little son-of-a-beast – that kernel of addictive potential.
The little monster that’s been basically starved to death is but an occasional glimmer, a tiny, sneaky golem hiding out in the dark, rubbing its hands in anticipation, “down there” in the cave of your subconscious, hoping for a break.
“Oh, relax. You show no signs of being the addict you once were, so just one can’t hurt.”
But I know better.
And then there’s when you’re so busy or stressed or whatever, and just need a rest, and up pops the idea, “I want a drink.” Fortunately this hasn’t happened to me because I know I truly do not want a drink, but many others have mentioned it, so I’ll address it here.
When that little voice says, “I need a drink.” or something like that, what it’s really saying is, “I need a rest.” So much of addiction (I noticed this with cigarettes too) is based on this need for a break from thinking – a rest. So, if that idea breaks through the surface of your mind, all you really need to do is correct it from, “I need a [fill in the addictive substance or action],” to “I need a rest.”
Sit down, and if I have the time, I set my timer for 10 minutes, and if I don’t I just sit and breathe and get quiet. I breathe deeply, attending to my breath; I listen the the sounds around me, and just notice; I feel where my ass meets the chair and where my feet meet the ground; I scan my body by from head to toe including my guts; I pull my attention back to my breath if it gets briefly hijacked by thought, which you can be sure it will. I treat all the sounds and thoughts equally, as benign passing vapor, and return to my breath. It’s that easy. That is rest. That is what you really want.
I look at the son-of-a-beast like a toxic relationship that ended long ago. You might run into it every now and then at certain events and social occasions, and you politely acknowledge it, and move on to something more interesting, healthy, and engaging. No need to rekindle that bad relationship. We know better.