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Why Not Just One Drink?

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It’s 5:42 am, and I’m writing this because I’m too tired to think and this seemed easier than trying to write my book. Honesty is the best policy, guys.

I could go back to sleep, but I am determined to create a new habit. That new habit is writing every day, no matter what. I don’t have to write masterpieces, but I do have to write no matter how I feel. So here I am, sitting in closet, typing away.

Side note: yep, I write in my closet. This started last week, when I sat down in my closet to chat with my daughter (for some reason, she was sitting in there), and I had instant flashbacks to my childhood. When I was a child and even into my early teen years, I used to sit in my closet and read, write, pray, and journal. I was a weird kid. Now I’m a weird adult.

creating new habits writing in the closet sobriety recovery alcohol free

So I started writing my closet, and it’s made a huge difference in my focus and productivity. Whudathunkit?

About a year ago, I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg (affiliate link, yup). Habits have always fascinated me, and his book made a huge impact on how I thought about my own habits. Not just the daily habits like sleeping in too late or making my morning coffee, but the bigger habits like why I drank like I did, and why I can’t drink anymore.

Easily one of the hardest concepts to grasp about recovery is the concept of No More. There’s a reason we take sobriety one day at a time. Forever is a long time. Still, questions come up.

“What about a glass of wine at so-and-so’s upcoming wedding?”

“You can’t have just one drink with dinner?”

“But one day, you can have a drink again, right?”


Seriously. Nope. Not me. I don’t speak for anybody else, but it’s a nope from me.

Our brains create habits based on repeated behavior. It’s basically the definition of a habit. What I didn’t know is that once a habit is formed, it’s formed. It’s there, and it stays there.

In AA, somebody reads parts of the Big Book at the beginning of every meeting (or at least every one that I’ve been to). One of the readings ends with this: “Physicians who are familiar with alcoholism agree there is no such thing as making a normal drinker out of an alcoholic. Science may one day accomplish this, but it hasn’t done so yet.” Interesting in this perspective.

You can only create new habits to override the old habits, you can’t erase bad habits forever. They may be deeply buried and dormant for years, but they are still there in our brains.

“The idea that somehow, someday he will control and enjoy his drinking is the great obsession of every abnormal drinker. The persistence of this illusion is astonishing. Many pursue it into the gates of insanity or death.” (The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous)

Binge drinking, drinking away my emotions, and numbing everything is now a habit, deep under the layers of the new habits that I’ve created. Other bad habits include avoiding responsibility when I’m stressed, snapping at people around me, and eating a lot of junk food.

I learned in sobriety that I would have to create completely new habits in order to break free from the patterns that kept bringing me back to the bottle. The ones I had at the time weren’t serving me, but I couldn’t just quit them. Instead, I had to create new ones.

Some of My New Habits:

Pausing and taking a breath before I speak out of anger. 

Waking up early no matter what (ok, still working on this one).

Intentional bedtime routine with the kids that incorporate prayer, quality time, and cuddling.

Intentional bedtime routine for me: laptop put away, tea and reading before bed.

Calling a friend or sponsor when I’m agitated, anxious, sad, or any other negative (or even positive) emotion. Reaching out before things get really bad.

Prayer. So, so much prayer.

AA meetings. For a while, I went 3-5x a week. For a year, I popped in maybe once a month or once every 4-5 months. Then I almost relapsed. Now, I’m back to 3-5x per week, and I have a new sponsor, and this is my happy place. I don’t attend out of desperation anymore, I attend because those are my people. I’ve learned that I need to be around my people, and I can’t help anybody if I’m not taking care of myself.

I accept that for me, if I take a drink, it would be a trigger that would set everything destructive back into motion. Maybe not immediately, but it would awaken the beast so to speak. The habit is there, and there’s nothing I can do about that now. I don’t ask for the ability to drink normally anymore. Alcohol is a poison. Why would I want to even flirt with it?

It’s not just alcohol, though. Anything that gets in between me and my serenity, my peace, is something that I have to give to God. Alcohol was just one symptom, one way that I numbed my emotions. I can find many, many other ways that have nothing to do with alcohol or drugs.

Creating new habits gives me the chance to pick how I want to handle my life. I get to be proactive. I’ve been waking up at 5:20am all week to get into the habit of writing. That is not fun, I assure you, but obviously I hope and expect that it will be worth it. I’m making intentional choices, little baby steps to get where I want to go in life.

Tell everything that holds you back to get out, and lock the gate behind it. We have gifts, dreams, and spots to fill, and we don’t have time to waste.

Let’s get to work.

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Sitting on top of Pike's Peak in Colorado, a little over 2 years sober.

Hi! I'm Ashley, and my sobriety date is May 6, 2015. I write to share my experience, strength, and hope in recovery. On any given day, you can find me developing websites, writing, or chauffeuring kids around.  Read my story...

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