Sometimes we have to reach a really low point to get the kick we need to take action. Sometimes, we start drinking again because we’ve forgotten why we stopped and kind of need a reminder – we need another low point to remind us why we want to live life sober.
Someone once asked me what my lowest point was and it was really hard to answer because I’d had so many of them:
There was the time when my fifteen year old son and my partner had to carry me into the house from the car because I couldn’t walk (this was after I’d been flirting outrageously - and more - with another man in front of both of them).
There was the time when I stayed at my aunt’s house and got so drunk that when I woke up I couldn’t remember the night before with my aunt and uncle and was horrified about what I might have said or done and even more so to discover I had pissed on the carpet in the corner of the bedroom.
And, there were all the times I drove over the limit because my breath and pores were oozing stale alcohol from the night before. One time I drove my teenage son to a rugby match the other side of town when I was in such a bad way first thing in the morning – but I was “being a good parent” by not letting him down and getting him to his match no matter how I was feeling. Oh, the relief when I got home and crawled into bed!
There are countless others.
When I think back to my behaviours and my low points when I was drinking, they don’t have the same impact on me anymore. I don’t feel the hot wave of shame crashing over me that I used to even though I still feel uncomfortable about the things I did,. Because those low points have become a thing of the past. I’ve created so many new and happier experiences and memories that the old ones have become much more distant – they’re not something I focus on so they don’t get me down. They’re the rocks and not the track (see blog: A Mountain-Biking Lesson).
I have lots of positive experiences, aspirations and life to focus on and I feel pride in how I’ve turned things around.
Self-respect has replaced burning shame.
Don’t get me wrong, I still mess up and say and do things occasionally that make me cringe inwardly and blush afterwards (that's just life) but they’re nowhere near on the scale of my old low points. They’re usually something quite harmless and even funny afterwards. And, just, well, me. And I’ve come to learn that “me” is okay.
I tell you this because I know some of you are consumed with shame and fear about your behaviour.
I want you to know that this will pass.
The more you practise being sober, the more you make better decisions, the more relationships you build and mend, the more self-confident you become and the more you will regain your self-respect. And this will happen. The behaviour and the low points that have troubled you will become fuzzy, grey and distant memories that don’t have any grip on you anymore.
This you can expect and look forward to. A fresher, cleaner and freer life where you can be happy with who you are and with what you do. A little bit of practise and some determination and support is all it takes.
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