No, it’s not because you’re stressed

Try a few of these phrases on for size:

I did crack last night because I was stressed.

I hit my kids because I had such a bad day.

I crashed my car because I needed something to distract me from my depression.

Giving up over-drinking is about recognizing that you do it because you want to do it. Not doing it is as simple as realizing that you also don’t want to do it just a little bit more than the part of you that wants it.

You don’t smoke crack on a bad day not because you have willpower to resist crack. It’s because you aren’t a crack smoker who deals with bad days by lighting up. You, my friend, are not a crack smoker. You’re a drinker. You don’t drink because you’ve had a bad day. You drink because you’re a drinker. You can find a reason to drink if you’ve had a bad day, or a good day. Truth is, having a day is all the reason you needed to erase that day from your emotional register.

If you overdrink, I can pretty much guarantee that you give yourself a hundred excuses about why you do it. They aren’t reasons in the real sense of cause and effort. They are excuses to engage in one of your favourite escapes. You love the behaviour, but you love the escape even more.

Not overdrinking is as simple as realizing that you don’t want to do this anymore. (Yes, I said simple. I didn’t say it would be easy). The damage you do to your life by exiting it is far worse than the difficulty of engaging with it. That’s not always an peaceful decision. Sometimes it feels like the choice between watching your dreams die instead of murdering them yourself. Not drinking is not a guarantee of a perfect life, or even a calmer one. But it is a life that you will live more fully and have more opportunities to find the joy and contentment that you’re looking for. Even when times are still difficult, I can find small joys. There are little moments in time that we walk through like a cathedral, where the soaring arches and shining light make us hush and enjoy the gift of Creation. When I’m sober, I’m so much more aware of these moments. When I’m drunk, I never lift my head from the pavement under my feet.

It’s just a moment. It’s not every moment. But it’s a string of moments of like these that makes up a good life. I stopped overdrinking when I wanted a good life just a little bit more than I wanted to be numb forever.