Thursday, 6 October 2016

Breaking the Contract

The other day I thought about how I would feel if I just packed all this sober malarkey in. Just unplugged from my sober support network, mothballed this blog, jumped on my horse and rode into the sunset with a beer bottle clutched in my hand. As if the major decision of quitting alcohol had been merely a whim that could be washed away as quickly as pouring a glass of pinot and just drinking it down.

It was just a fleeting daydream, over in seconds and then consigned to the dustbin of one million similar daydreams. Gone. Not seriously contemplated.

I know how I'd feel. I'd feel like a pile of crap. I've seen people go back to day one on Living Sober and the pain that causes them (though I've also seen how slipping has helped them find more solid sober ground).  However, I've made a contract with myself. I'm doing at least one year without booze and that's exactly what I'm going to do! Full stop!

But you see contracts broken all the time. What about the countless sportspeople who have backed out of contracts for money, or because of a falling out, or a change of heart? What about the employment contracts and the business deals that fall over every day. There always seems to be an out-clause that can free you from any contract, no matter how water tight. Contracts are not worth the paper they're written on, is a common cliche. There's no honour.

For me this is about more than money (apart from the money I'm saving each week by not buying booze). As each day passes my sobriety is becoming more and more a part of me. It's becoming too much a part of who I am to let go of it.

If I go back to drinking then who am I?

This contract with myself has to be honoured. If someone else breaks an agreement with me then that's on them. But if I drink again then that's on me, and I don't want to face that. I've got too much skin in the game now. I've made too many gains. I've gleaned too many insights. I've invested too much time in this. I've learnt so very much from others. I've had too much help to throw it all away as if it's nothing. I've gotten to the point where alcohol doesn't tempt me or even appeal to me anymore. I've worked hard to climb this far. It would be easier to keep climbing than go back down.

I've just read the latest Sober Story on Living Sober featuring 38-year-old Sydney-sider Stella (you can read it here). She battled depression and drank to numb the pain. Before she gave up for good she was taken to the brink of suicide. The most powerful quote of hers about the benefits of sobriety is:

"A clear head is priceless. But nothing beats actually wanting to be alive."

I love this idea. It's just hugely inspiring.

She also talks about trying everything to fix her life but not admitting, till she finally decided she had to quit booze, that alcohol was her problem. I've had a comparatively charmed existence. I've had the usual ups and downs, but I've never experienced the absolute despair she experienced. I've been wondering lately, with the benefit of being free of alcohol, whether my main problem all these years was actually alcohol or whether my problem was me. Being free of the booze has helped me get out of my own clumsy way, and forced me to work on stuff that I've avoided for decades. It's helped me see what I really want from my life. And it's not booze.

Alcohol to me was a road block. It was holding me back. It helped me build false confidence, but never genuine confidence. It blunted the celebrations and stopped me dealing in a proper way with pain. It disconnected me from the world and from people. It never did anything meaningful for my life.

I'm happy to see the back of it.


  1. Just absolutely love your clarity and self awareness and your excellent expression of it Soberman xo

  2. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  3. Cheers Prudence. Just tried to delete your double comment.... not sure why that happens when you post a comment

  4. Wee said Sober man.'This contract with myself has to be honoured' sums it up for me too.If we break this god knows what would happen but it wouldn't be pretty.

  5. Really beautifully written. It made me calm reading your words. It really is a "contract" with ourselves. The most important contract.

  6. Thank Sober Suits Me! I appreciate you reading. :)

  7. Thanks for posting this. I live in North Carolina and we are under the threat of a hurricane. (I promise to make this relevant).

    My family owns a place on the coast. I needed to ride down and secure a few things in case the storm makes a wrong term. I also wanted a night to myself- if I am honest.

    When I got here I went to the fridge for a drink and discovered my wife had left really good craft beer in the fridge. I'm alone with the beer. She hasn't kept a tally, no one will know if I have them. No one will know if I have just one. No one will know but me.

    I honored my contract with myself and my family. I poured a glass of alcohol free ginger beer and went to bed.

    There is a quote that says you "judge a man's character by what he does when no one is looking". I'm far from perfect but right now I can still honestly say that I am sober for 180+ days and that is a start.

    Thanks for posting this.

  8. Oh, I love that quote wvlheel. So right. Good on you for sticking to the plan !

    1. And our thoughts are with you all during this stormy period.