I'm at day five of my Noosa holiday. The first two nights, while spent in paradise, were so stressful I was almost driven to drink. It was at a time when I felt I was in supreme control of my sober lifestyle. Sleep deprivation does funny things to people. After the second night of getting up multiple times to my squawking children my mental state was ripe for a slip up.
Later that night the booze was flowing, not like a waterfall, but at more of a steady stream than night one, and for whatever reason I felt like I was missing out. Big time. I watched my brother-in-law charging into the beers and I remembered how much I loved doing that on holiday. I truly did love that part of drinking, especially with close family and friends gathered to enjoy each other's company. Just chugging one beer after the other and getting a bit loose. Coming out of my shell. It wasn't much past dinner when a strong drinking urge invaded my sleep starved brain: "Fuck it! What am I doing this sober thing for anyway. Maybe I don't even have a problem. I could just pack the whole thing in and drink with the other fellas." For a moment I really wanted to drink, to just be normal again. But I saved myself by saying out loud to my sister-in-law: "I really want to have a drink" before adding, "but I'm not going to."
That took all the air out of the situation - vocalising my innermost urge to drink, having it hang in the air like a cloud of steam before it drifted away. Then I was okay. Now three days later I'm in a much better place. I've had a couple of good nights' sleep, I've been for a few runs, and I'm more than happy to still be sober.
Maybe I don't even have a problem.
This morning on my run I pondered how that thought had popped into my head. I thought about all the sneaky things my inner dialogue thinks of to say to me to get me to do all sorts of things I'd decided I didn't want to do. I thought back to the day I joined the Living Sober community. It was the morning after my last bender - a bender I had told myself before I went out with my friends I wasn't going to have. How many times do our plans around moderating alcohol get hijacked by alcohol itself? As I've gotten older, and since I had children, benders have happened less frequently. In the last few years they've been accompanied by feelings of shame, and deep regret. I sat in front of the computer screen looking at the Living Sober home screen, with my finger hovering over the mouse battling with myself over whether I'd join up. Did I even have a problem? Can I manage this myself?
In the end I decided to take positive action and, feeling like I had nothing to lose, I joined up. The answer to my question goes back to that day. If I didn't have a problem then why was I there, staring at that computer screen, making a decision that could change my relationship with alcohol forever. When I joined I didn't know If I wanted to quit or to try moderation, but I knew I wanted to do something different. After all, my modus operandi in relation to alcohol for the first 39 years of my life was deeply flawed. It wasn't working for me anymore.
I've come through my first crisis now.
Now that I'm on the other side of that, I feel stronger than ever.