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Why: one big one or lots of little ones?

Old 07-03-2018, 06:45 AM
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Why: one big one or lots of little ones?

Since joining this site at the beginning of the year, I have had many successes... and many relapses. I can go several weeks sober, but then I relapse and go on a bender for a couple of days. I'm been fortunate that my relapses are brief, and I've consistently gotten back in the saddle. I'm immensely grateful for all the sober time I have when I add the days up, and trying to get sober is infinitely better than being drunk. I really mean that. If I knew right now that I can never get more than a few weeks sober and I'm doomed to keep relapsing, I would still keep trying. The sober days are that good.

But if I can do better, I want to do better. If it's possible for me, I want to be done for good. In the past few months, I've accumulated lots of good advice on how to get sober; however, during my last relapse, I realized I don't necessarily know why I'm getting sober. Or rather, I have lots of little reasons to get sober, but no major or central motivation. I joined this site after an embarrassing night out. I still feel a pang of regret when I think about it, but the memory has faded, and I'm worried I need a stronger reason to fight the AV. It feels like my sobriety isn't focused, if that makes sense.

So I was wondering, why did you get sober? Did you have one big reason (a DUI? A health scare? Doing if for your kids? An epiphany of some sort?) Or did you have a bunch of little reasons? Are the little reasons enough?

If you've been sober for a long time, I also wonder, has your "why" changed over time, and if so how?

(p.s.) I don't follow AA or attend meetings, so I'm more interested in general responses rather than what the Big Book says on the "why"/surrender (no offense, I hope!) I appreciate all insights and experience, as always.

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Old 07-03-2018, 06:52 AM
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I just got sick and tired of always being sick and tired. I was sick of waking up feeling like hell and hating myself. I've been sober over 8 yrs now and still relish the joy of waking up feeling good.

When I swore off for good, I finally wanted to be sober more than I wanted to drink.
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Old 07-03-2018, 06:57 AM
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Obviously, I have limited experience because I've only been sober for 6 months, but I'm definitely in the "100 little reasons" camp. I don't need a DUI to wake me up and show me I'm a "real" alcoholic, because I've known that I am for a very long time. It's really the sick and tired reason...SO over it. Being in a constant fog, not even enjoying drinking, having a miserable and joyless existence, holding secrets, anxiety, looking terrible, gaining weight, irritable, isolating, only doing the bare minimum to get through the day. The most important thing for me is to remember how I felt when I was drinking, and how awful it was...it's shockingly easy to forget, you know?
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:03 AM
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Originally Posted by PalmerSage View Post
Obviously, I have limited experience because I've only been sober for 6 months, but I'm definitely in the "100 little reasons" camp. I don't need a DUI to wake me up and show me I'm a "real" alcoholic, because I've known that I am for a very long time. It's really the sick and tired reason...SO over it. Being in a constant fog, not even enjoying drinking, having a miserable and joyless existence, holding secrets, anxiety, looking terrible, gaining weight, irritable, isolating, only doing the bare minimum to get through the day. The most important thing for me is to remember how I felt when I was drinking, and how awful it was...it's shockingly easy to forget, you know?
This is me completely. No major event, just the realization that I don't want to feel or look that sick anymore!
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:04 AM
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Originally Posted by ProfessorD View Post
The sober days are that good.
That should be all the "why" you need for "Why I don't drink"


We all had a reason we quit. But as you are finding out, the why weakens and the addiction starts seeking leverage. For you, your "whys" don't stack up, so you drink.

My "why I quit" isn't what keeps me sober. I don't drink anymore. Period. I don't need a why I quit to remind me. Sobriety reaps its own benefits. That's "why" I don't drink.

You say you are reaping yours....why isn't that sufficient?
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:06 AM
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For me it was cumulative of all the negative things in my life. If I was brutally honest with myself most bad things in my live started with my alcoholism. I finally had enough. Most importantly i finally accepted that I could never drink again.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:12 AM
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Very similar to Palmer and Least. Low quality of life from doing something I didn't even like. Somewhere around 10 months, I began to realise that I was an OK person without. I started to feel really comfortable and confident in myself. I really disliked the drinking me. At 14 months, that is still developing and is a key factor in my sobriety.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:25 AM
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I was just DONE. For all the reasons.

Maybe make a Pro/Con list.

Another thing that was helpful for me was to write out a timeline of when and how my drinking started and all the things that happened during the years I drank. It helped me to see in writing honestly how bad the cumulative things were, and how it all progressed over time instead of just mentally sweeping it all under the rug.

No one comes into recovery on a winning streak.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:27 AM
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Originally Posted by doggonecarl View Post
That should be all the "why" you need for "Why I don't drink"


We all had a reason we quit. But as you are finding out, the why weakens and the addiction starts seeking leverage. For you, your "whys" don't stack up, so you drink.

My "why I quit" isn't what keeps me sober. I don't drink anymore. Period. I don't need a why I quit to remind me. Sobriety reaps its own benefits. That's "why" I don't drink.

You say you are reaping yours....why isn't that sufficient?
When I say the sober days are good, I mean the ones immediately following the benders. I like getting sober, I guess, but a few weeks in, I lose my resolve. The whys stop stacking up, as you say.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:29 AM
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Interesting that you asked why we got sober and not why we got drunk. As if sobriety is the unnatural state, and we needed a good reason to pursue it.

Did Willie Sutton ask everyone else why they didn't rob banks?

Best of Luck on Your Journey!
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Bonnefond87 View Post
Very similar to Palmer and Least. Low quality of life from doing something I didn't even like. Somewhere around 10 months, I began to realise that I was an OK person without. I started to feel really comfortable and confident in myself. I really disliked the drinking me. At 14 months, that is still developing and is a key factor in my sobriety.
Thanks! It's good to hear that your confidence is developing. Maybe I just need to white-knuckle for a while and I will be in a better place to commit to being OK without it forever. At the 3 or 4 week mark, I begin to feel really anxious and depressed, which contributes to the relapses.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:34 AM
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Originally Posted by Nonsensical View Post
Interesting that you asked why we got sober and not why we got drunk. As if sobriety is the unnatural state, and we needed a good reason to pursue it.

Did Willie Sutton ask everyone else why they didn't rob banks?

Best of Luck on Your Journey!
Thanks! I don't assume anything about this process or what is/isn't "natural." I'm just trying a new approach to see if I can get a new result. I've posted a million times wondering about why I drank and trying to figure out my triggers.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:36 AM
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For me, it is all those "little things." I feel like I'm not progressing in my life, and I'm not as happy as I should be. I think I'm realizing that with alcohol in the picture, I'm never going to be able to get to the place where I can make serious decisions about what I want to do to maximize my time on the planet. I'm also in academia, and find a lot of it soul-destroying. I need to get myself to a place where I'm no longer using alcohol EVER so that I can make a clear decision about what to do next,
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by biminiblue View Post
I was just DONE. For all the reasons.

Maybe make a Pro/Con list.

Another thing that was helpful for me was to write out a timeline of when and how my drinking started and all the things that happened during the years I drank. It helped me to see in writing honestly how bad the cumulative things were, and how it all progressed over time instead of just mentally sweeping it all under the rug.

No one comes into recovery on a winning streak.
Good idea! I will try it out. Of course, there are so few Pros to list since there are no actual/rational benefits to drinking. I'm definitely in denial about how many things are on the Con list.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:38 AM
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Big? I didn't want to die. For some reason, I knew I was DONE when my new liver dr told me I'd have a year, 18 mo to live if I kept going. I was 39 and decided not to be dead at 40.

Little reasons? Those are what have come up as I've gotten sober- I am 28 mo and change now- because I can see how much better my life is. It's amazing and I will never go back to all the BS reasons I had for continuing to drink.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:40 AM
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Originally Posted by ProfessorD View Post
When I say the sober days are good, I mean the ones immediately following the benders. I like getting sober, I guess, but a few weeks in, I lose my resolve. The whys stop stacking up, as you say.
My last drink nearly killed me. I realised actually I don't want to die yet. I wanted to live but I couldn't live (exist) anymore as I had been.
In my case just putting the drink down was not enough. I am having to learn to live a whole new way of life without alcohol. For me personally I am using the steps of AA but that is not the only way you just have to find what fits you best. Not drinking but not changing never worked for me. I always lost my resolve and picked up again.
In my case I am learning that there is so much more going on with me than just drinking and if I am going to STAY sober I have to work on me and my recovery on a DAILY basis.
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Old 07-03-2018, 07:45 AM
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I would also add that when I stopped drinking life didn't become great in 3-4 weeks. It took a good six months for me to really feel the benefit on a daily basis.

Lots of us drink to medicate/numb emotions or to try to forget about current and past life traumas and experiences.

If sobriety isn't making life better, then there is something else that needs to be addressed. Current or past emotional issues need to be resolved and if they aren't then the default is to shut them up with alcohol or other addictions.

There is no hiding from real problems. The good thing is that sobriety allows actual, real solutions to present themselves instead of constantly running away from them.
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Old 07-03-2018, 08:00 AM
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Originally Posted by doggonecarl View Post

You say you are reaping yours....why isn't that sufficient?
I can obviously only speak for myself but regarding this question about what is "sufficient" or not, the good times I had while drinking is always appealing and I had a lot of joy during these times. Not EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. I drank ended in a bad night. That is of course perspective because it could be argued that at any point of putting poison in my body is a bad time, however for me, and from a social aspect, I enjoyed a lot of nights out drinking.

I've struggled with my relapses because of my underlying urges to re-connect socially in ways I struggle with while sober. It's a balancing act because in ways, drinking alcohol filled a different "need" as I haven't learned how to enjoy all facets of life yet, sober.

As for my one moment that brought me to sobriety, it was hurting people I cared about, and realizing it isn't EVERYBODY else that is the problem, it was me, and always has been me. Swallowing my pride and trying to be a better person because I ruined another relationship. I could be alone my whole life, drunk and miserable, or I could be sober, and have a family, and stop hurting everybody I care about.
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Old 07-03-2018, 08:01 AM
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I got sober because I was tired of;
Humiliation
Hangovers
Being rude to the ones that love me
Missing work
Not doing more things with my son - couch-bound hangovers
Not living a life out of a bar in my free time
Finding all the wrong people
Being around people who are also alcoholics
Being around negativity
Being around drama
Being talked about - the humiliating things I did
Possibly losing my career
Losing self-respect
Lack of healthy habits
Negativity Energy from the all the coke
The nose sores
Not having the ability to stop at 1
The overspending
The gambling compulsion-Seriously I could keep going, but I gather you understand I have a million little reasons, but I also have BIG reasons. It was all a compilation of ****, I no longer wanted to live with/in/around.

Whatever the reason, My worst day sober is better than my "best day" drunk- I am not even sure what day that is. But I can tell you about all my great days sober, and some not so great. Probably because I remember them in there entirety, down to how I was feeling.

I have gained so much, I see no reason to go backward in life. I like looking ahead at a bright, beautiful life!
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Old 07-03-2018, 08:56 AM
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I posted this over in your Anxiety thread, but am re-posting it here because I think it's essential for folks to learn that a switch from daily drinking to a cycle of stopping and starting again can actually mean the opposite of "progress":

Stopping and starting drinking multiple times is putting your brain through multiple withdrawal cycles, which is actually harder on it than daily drinking. It's setting the stage for increased persistent withdrawal symptoms, which include anxiety. The development of worsening withdrawal symptoms over multiple cycles is called "Kindling." I'm attaching a graph because a picture can be worth a thousand words.

I went through this. During the years I was sort of trying to quit drinking but not really committed to sobriety yet, I stopped and started numerous times, all while experiencing worsening anxiety and mental health in general. I kept researching this puzzling decline in my well-being, coming up with all sorts of abstruse diagnoses and elaborate possible courses of treatment, while never confronting the obvious solution: STOP DRINKING.

Once I finally did stop drinking for good, my mental health improved by leaps and bounds over time. At 5 years sober, I can say my anxiety level is the lowest it has been since well before I started drinking alcoholically.

So I guess this goes back to this thread's topic after all: one big reason for me to get sober was to eliminate an increasingly grave threat to my mental health.

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