Early in my sobriety – in fact the first week – I heard some news that made me think I ‘had’ to have a drink.
Even though it was my first week of sobriety, I was blindsided by this urge.
You would think it was understandable that the first Friday night during the first week of sobriety would be a difficult time but I felt that I was totally prepared for it.
Unlike previous times that I had given up, I felt particularly well-prepared as I had read This Naked Mind and many other positive quit lit books, was listening to sobriety podcasts and journaling about my experience.
I also had some lovely non-alcoholic drinks on hand to treat myself with on that particular Friday night.
What to do when triggered to drink?
The trigger for the sudden urge came when my partner called me to tell me his father had died. My partner had been working away all week and had received the news just before he was due to get on a flight home.
One of my first thoughts was – I need to go to the bottleshop and buy some wine (the night before I’d poured my remaining wine down the sink). I knew my partner would want to have a few beers when he got home and probably talk about his father, so I thought I should join him.
The thing that struck me about this was not that I wanted to reach for the wine bottle because someone had died. After all, dealing with a sad event using alcohol was par for the course when drinking and I was only a week into sobriety.
The ridiculous thing was my partner’s father was a virtual stranger to me. While I was sad for my partner for losing his dad, I had met his father only once in our 15 year relationship so had no feelings towards him.
My partner barely spoke to him either as they had had a distant relationship ashis parents had split when he was very young. The split was due to his father hitting his mother (which he did in front of my partner and his brother) so he wasn’t a particularly nice man.
Also, his death, while sudden, wasn’t completely out of the blue. He had been a long-term smoker and drinker who was reliant on an oxygen tank.
So while I was sad for my father-in-law’s current wife and for my partner, the news wasn’t something that had floored me. Yet, straight away I saw it as an excuse to reach for alcohol.
Reconsidering the decision to drink
Thankfully, I didn’t. I had time to consider my decision and by the time I had finished work, I realised I did not need a wine to deal with this situation. My partner came home and had a few beers, but it wasn’t necessary for me to be drinking with him to be there for him.
I’m so glad I didn’t reach for the bottle but it also scares me that I was feeling so strong and good about my decision not to touch alcohol, yet something like that had me reverting so quickly back to my old ways. It scares me because I absolutely understand and agree with everything I am reading and hearing about the beliefs we have about alcohol vs the reality.
Yet something sad happens and I fell back into thinking alcohol was the solution and that feeling was so strong. It’s just goes to show how powerful the unconscious mind can be.
At least now I approach it with an enquiring mind. A ‘hmm, that’s an interesting reaction’ approach.