The Good Times
Accept the label alcoholic.
Admit I was powerless over alcohol.
Work the 12 Steps.
AA was not my path
I would beat alcohol.
- We get fired from a job.
- Someone we love breaks up with us.
- The Doctor tells us we have cancer.
- Social Media
- Processed Food
Terry R. Grier
Sunday 11:55 am
I grew up in south Louisiana.
It was a blessing and a curse. The culture there is unlike any other place in the world.
Laissez faire is the feeling of the day and night.
Allow to do is the literal meaning, but generally it means accepting an attitude of letting things take their own course (i.e. Let the people do as they choose.)
It is a pleasure-seeking culture.
However, the consequence of this culture is that it revolves around alcohol. EVERY event has alcohol.
Baby is born. Let’s celebrate (with alcohol)
Grandfather has died. Let’s celebrate his life (with alcohol)
From birth to death and every time in between: ALCOHOL.
The legal drinking age was still 18 when I turned 18. Louisiana was the last state in the union to change the age to 21. I had my first beer at 15. It was as easy as driving to the wrong side of town and with a $20 bill. Put a six pack and the $20 bill on the counter and leave the change behind. No questions asked.
I considered myself a social drinker. The problem was I was very social. I enjoyed drinking. It was fun. I felt accepted. People enjoyed being around me. I projected that laissez faire attitude.
When I turned 45 I was married. I had a professional job. I had friends and a home.
But I was also carrying around an extra 75 pounds and a sinking feeling that life was passing me by.
I had dreams but I spent too much time at happy hour talking about my “someday” with little follow up.
I tried a lot of different self-help models, but nothing really stuck.
One day a thought came to me. A thought so strong I could not ignore it, so I wrote it down.
“Do I drink too much?"
As I wrote more thoughts appeared.
“Maybe I would be more successful if I drank less?
“Maybe I could lose this extra weight that I am gaining?
“Maybe my marriage would be better?”
I sat for a couple of minutes and reread what I wrote.
I knew there was truth in these words, but they scared the hell out of me.
I googled “Am I an alcoholic?”
I found an online quiz and answered the questions. The internet diagnosed me as a “normal drinker”. I was okay.
Whew, no need to change.
But as time when on and I continued to drink, things got worse.
I found myself being intolerant with my wife and friends. I would wake up with a nagging feeling I needed to apologize for something I said the night before but could not remember to whom I should apologize.
On a Sunday morning after an evening with friends and plenty of wine, I decided enough was enough. I felt the need to prove something to myself. I need to take a break from drinking. I needed to see for myself if I could go a week without drinking.
So, I decided to do a self-experiment. I was not going to drink for one week. I was excited.
I felt horrible. I wanted to hide. I ignored it. And I was grateful that I did not make a big declaration to anyone.
The lesson that I missed was that I had started. I tried. I was brave enough to take action. My feet were on the path.
If you drink too much or have a problem with alcohol, the culturally accepted course of action is alcoholics anonymous (AA).
The idea of saying I was an alcoholic and accepting that label kept me from doing anything. It paralyzed me. I pushed down the feelings I had around alcohol to deal with another day.
But those feelings would come back time and time again, each with a stronger sense of urgency.
I still did not want to deal with them, and I felt a split within my mind. I spent more and more time thinking about my drinking and what I should do with no resolution or direction as to what to do.
I wanted to drink. But I also wanted to not drink. Above all else, I really wanted to stop thinking so much about my drinking.
I felt fucked up. What was wrong with me? I felt alone in this.
I knew a guy at my local gym who was an AA person. I opened up a little about what I was struggling with, and he invited me to an AA open house of sorts - basically a meeting for “newbies.”
I went. The people were kind. But if you have watched the portrayal of addiction on any movie or TV show then you know how the meeting went.
I resisted applying the label “alcoholic” to myself. Accepting the label and AA’s view of addiction meant that I was submitting not to a higher power but to their view of addiction. I would be submitting to what others think is best for me.
The “My name is Terry, and I am an alcoholic” label, once self-applied is something you have to wear for the rest of your life like Hester Prynne and her big red “A”. (Yes, her A meant something else, but a label is a label.)
Not for me.
Some would say that I was in denial and that my ego was in the way of my recovery. They would say I was lying to myself and the fact I was rejecting AA meant that I needed it more than ever.
I walked out of that meeting knowing two things.
My resolve to continue my journey was strong and I found the next piece to the puzzle by doing something that most people overlook…
PS. I wrote 5 emails like this to help you. It is part of my Self-Driven Sobriety Series.
You can get the rest for free terrygrier.com/email-cou…
To My Friend: 11/19/2022
Why wait until Jan 1, 2023 to start a new habit? Why dig the hole you are in any deeper? The pull to drink alcohol is in you. You hear the voice. But there is a voice in there too that wants you to change.
If you do nothing, you know where this path will lead.
When you hear “Now is not the right now time - we have the holidays coming” Which voice is this talking to you?
That is the problem with change. It is hard. It is easier when there is a roadblock or we are forced to change.
You have to stop this and reverse course at some point. Why not now. Right now.
Now, sit with your cup of tea or coffee and reflect on what you would feel like if on Jan 1, 2023 if you do not drink through the holidays. Think about being on day 40 of your journey vs starting on day 1.
I assure you day one’s suck balls.
Write about this feeling. The sense of accomplishment going into 2023 vs the dread of drinking and having to start over… again.
Change is not easy. It will be harder tomorrow. It will be even harder on Jan 1, 2023.
Make a decision today. Never. Ever. Doubt the decision.
I am here for you. Terry
If you would like to receive emails that will help you get sober - here is my private email list.
No rock bottom.
Just a desire to be free of the repeating behavior of drinking more than I intended followed by empty promises for change.
From the time I wanted to quit to my last drink was about 3 years.
How did I know 3 years ago it was my last drink? I had no idea. I had quit and started drinking again so many times. But I knew that my time between was quitting was getting shorter. That is the key metric in my opinion.
I made the commitment and stayed present each day with that decision until it became easier and easier.
3 years later this change has been integrated into my being.
It started with taking a break from drinking.
But it could be any activity.
The big 4 are
What these have in common? Seeking to numb out. The desire to escape.
Quitting alcohol has made me want to press further into life not escape it.
The point of not drinking is not just “Not Drinking” - but to build a life you do not want to escape from.
If I can be of help to you or if you want to tell someone that you are starting your journey, please send me a note. I would love to hear from you.
The best advice I heard and verified in my own life is the following for quitting something.
Keep quitting until you have quit.
Decide that you are going to make a change. You know without a shred of doubt that it is bad for you.
Never doubt the decision.
Step 3: (if needed)
If you fail, repeat steps 1 and 2.
How To Track Your Way to Success!
The only metric I would suggest you track is the amount of time (mins, hours, days, weeks) that passes until your restart.
If you can shorten this time you are on the path to success.
If you ignore the fact you are off course then you are heading in the wrong direction.
The hardest part is to not ignore the truth that you have committed too.
Ignoring a problem can feel good in the moment but it delays the pain. We all know this.
When I wanted to stop drinking alcohol, and I would drink again, I stopped worrying about how many failures happened and I focused on starting again.
I would restart my journey.
It took me about 3 years.
The last time I opened a beer I took one sip and I threw the rest away. That was my last drink.
I started my journey in the summer of 2016. I wanted to change my relationship with alcohol. I was not sure exactly how or what I needed to do and I think I did what most people do when they think they might have a problem with something, they take a break from it.
So that is what I did. I started with a 30 day personal challenge.
2016 and 2017 I would repeat a pattern. I would give myself a challenge of 30, 60 or 90 days. I would complete them and continue forward without drinking but at somepoint I would change my mind and say to myself “You got this. Alcohol is not a problem anymore. You understand”.
I would have a drink or 2 with my friends.
With in a couple of weeks I was back to not liking my relationship with alcohol.
Oddly, enough most of my friends never really thought I had a problem. But they were not in my head and hearing my thoughts. I spent way too much time thinking about alcohol, regretting drinking, planning not to drink etc etc etc.
Here is an entry I wrote August of 2019.
My sobriety date is Oct 1, 2018.
I wrote about my experience of breaking a 60 day break in 2018 - just 40 days before I would quit for good.
60 days in on a 365 day goal … lets be honest .. on a lifetime goal. Why? Cause there is no benefit to drinking - I wrote this exactly 1 Year Ago!
I broke sobriety 3 weeks later after completing my first Triathlon…. Why? cause I wanted to celebrate. I wanted to be in the beer area and celebrate with my friends.
I drank all the way till the end of Sept. 2018.
In 2019 - One year later - I am 60 days from reaching the one year mark for my sobriety.
Interesting what a year will do.
I am grateful that this year when I finish the Tri I will not be tempted by the beer tent. Not even a little. Sure I might walk in to high five my friends but no need for the beer.
At some point in the last 9 months I just stopped wanting alcohol. I am free.
I am free.
I love reading that. It almost makes me tear up.
I want this for others that want it.
If I can be of help let me know.
Peace and Love Terry