But What About Everyone Else…
I’ve been asked a few times recently to give advice to someone wanting to stop drinking, when they have a partner who intends to carry on. It’s not an easy thing to answer, because the dynamics of any relationship are different, but I’ve been thinking a lot about it, so here goes.
Having everyone agree with our decisions and fully support our choices would be amazing, but realistically, that just isn’t going to happen. Life isn’t like that, and I know for sure that while sometimes it would be nice to have everyone agree with me and go along with all my ideas, it wouldn’t feel nice to think I was just being humoured. If we aren’t real and genuine with each other, especially those we love, then there seems little point in going to the trouble of facing up to and overcoming our difficulties. I’ve been learning to free the real and authentic version of myself, and in doing that, I know I need to accept the authentic version of everybody else too. I’m not saying we have to like everyone else’s choices, but to accept them is different, and it can give us a little bit of peace when we realise that, and stop overthinking things that are out of our control.
Everyone’s situation is different, some couples give up drinking together, but while some find that supportive, others find it can cause conflict. There is no right or wrong. Some people are single and don’t have partners to help or hinder them. Whatever our circumstances, we need to remember that we make choices for ourselves, and so should everyone else. We can’t let other people’s decisions affect us. We can’t let it be an excuse or a reason not to try something new. Other people are not the key to our success. Changing ourselves is the key, and we can’t rely on other people to do that.
We as people are all different and so we can use the fact that we choose not to drink as something else unique about us. Sobriety doesn’t have to be a negative thing! We also don’t have to be replicas of each other, not everyone will have had the same experiences as us, and so they won’t necessarily choose the same path. It doesn’t mean it’s wrong for either party. If we can be accepting of others food choices, for example, maybe two people eating together, one a vegetarian and one not, then surely we should try to be able to do the same with or without alcohol. We need to be mindful, things won’t always be easy, especially for those who stop drinking, to be around alcohol without feeling some emotional attachment, but that can be overcome with effort, as we rewire our brains and the way we think. Don’t push yourselves too far too soon. We need to remember that it is our choice not to drink, and remind ourselves that the person that choice benefits directly is us. Of course our behaviour will also affect other people, but we have to remember, if we want it to stick, that we’re doing it primarily for ourselves. We can’t let the choices of others hold us back, because that is what it will do, and we can’t use those choices as an excuse either. Believe me when I say, I looked for any reason I could to keep drinking and to feel like my drinking was normal, but the very fact I had to do that should have showed me that it wasn’t.
Be tolerant of each other, we can’t expect everyone to understand our choices, and unless you’ve had a problem with alcohol, it is doubtful that you’d understand the way some of us think. That’s okay, we’re not asking you to change, just to accept and not make jokes at our expense, and in return, although we might not understand why others still choose to drink, we’ll try to do the same.
Remember too that when we become sober and experience life free from the ties of hangovers and addiction, we shine a light on the worries others might have. We can’t push them into changing, everyone needs to go at their own pace, and find their own way. I know I would not have reacted well to anyone telling me to stop, or highlighting my drinking as a problem. It was a lesson I had to learn on my own.
Tread carefully, many people are fighting battles we know nothing about, but most of all look after yourself. Be kind to yourselves and to everyone else too.