I want to drink. (I do not drink).

People congratulate me when they see me out with a kombucha or other non-alcoholic drink in hand. “Still not drinking, huh?” No matter who it is that’s asking, they always sound a bit surprised and mildly impressed. While at first it was tiring, I understand now that they do not sound surprised because they expected me to fail, and they are not impressed by my restraint because they thought I wouldn’t be able to do it. (Although in the beginning that was certainly the general consensus). No, most of the time, the people who are remarking upon the fact that I’m still not drinking are the same people who will later tell me, on their way to drunk, how impossible it would be for them to quit drinking; the same people who will tell me that they tried once to abstain for a set number of days and didn’t make it.

Sometimes drunk and sometimes sober, these same folks always ask at some point, “how do you do it?” It’s a tricky question to answer with grace. I mean, because really, it’s a dumb question. How do I do it? I don’t drink. Period. It has nothing to do with whether or not I want to have a drink or whether or not I could or should. I just don’t drink.

This is generally followed with “I could never…”, which is more silliness. The correct response to this would be, “Yes you can. Stop drinking. Don’t start drinking even when you really want to. Just don’t drink.” But no one really wants to hear that; they want to be assured of how difficult it is to stay sober so that they don’t have to try. Because none of the people who are saying these things to me wants to stop drinking.

You know how I know? Because I watch them keep drinking.

In a culture where alcohol is such a socially acceptable addiction, is it any wonder that those of us who are striving for sobriety find it difficult.

I want to have a drink all the time. Sometimes a few days come and go and I barely think about it. Other times it’s all I can think about. There are times I’m driving in my car and the craving for a dark beer will sweep over me without warning. I can almost smell it, taste the dark richness on my tongue, feel myself swallowing it down. I drive home fighting the desire to stop and sneak in just one beer somewhere along the way. Sometimes at night, contentedly sipping tea while reading a book, I will suddenly be slammed by desire for red wine. My mouth will begin to water and I will spend a moment mourning the fact that I no longer drink, and then I distract myself in someway and the desire passes, or it doesn’t. Either way I don’t have a drink.

And that’s how I do it. I want to, I think I need to, I’m convinced I’ll never make it another moment… and then I don’t have a drink.

I’m writing this right now because I want a drink. The words on the pages of the book I was just reading stopped making sense because my brain couldn’t move past the all encompassing desire for a glass of red wine.

I hope that it will not always be this difficult for me. I hope that someday soon the power of alcohol will lose it’s grip over me and I will be able to go weeks, even months, without a weak-in-the-knees moment (or day) of craving. I hope that someday sober will feel like normal to me. I hope that I will continue to find strength, that I will continue to withstand.

But it’s not hope that keeps me sober. As far as that goes, it seems that not drinking is the key to maintaining sobriety.

Duh.

16 thoughts on “I want to drink. (I do not drink).

  1. We’ve talked about this before and I am sure we will again. I was never labeled an alcoholic (or maybe I was? I mean friends do talk). My friend recently told me that everything I do, I do to the extreme and that included drinking.

    I quit when I turned 40, partially to be a role model for my kids and partially because acid reflux had took the fun out of it.

    Once I stopped I often questioned why I thought it was so much fun? Why was it so important that I was the last man standing at a keg party? Or that my refrigerator top was filled with empty half gallons of JD, Or that I could sleep with a mug of beer on my knee and wake up and start drinking again without spilling a drop? Of course, these things were for bragging rights. Wow! I’m so proud! I was proud that I could drive home drunk and make it. How sad : (

    For that past 13 years I have been telling myself that I am going to sit down and have a Guiness one day; that day never comes. I have wine in my fridge, both red and white, I use them for cooking; there they happily sit waiting for the next recipe.

    One thing I have learned is that I can have a beer, or wine, or champagne if I want to; I just lost the desire to. My one friend likes good micro-brew beer. We see each other every few years and I will share a juice glass with him. It’s good, I enjoy it, but I have no desire to add it to my daily, weekly or monthly routine. I often wonder why it was so important to spend half my paycheck on alcohol? Or sit around by myself polishing off a six pack? I’m glad I have moved past that.

    Hope this helps,

    John

  2. it wasn’t long ago that I couldn’t go a day without a drink…a week forget it. Then one day, I stopped…that was it. I stopped. Several years later, I could have one drink…if I so desired, but most often I did not desire. Sadly, not long ago I decided to go out with a friend after a hard time and found myself drinking…and drinking…and drinking. I don’t know how many drinks later it was, but I was home with someone I barely knew doing unspeakable acts…I have not had a drink since. Back to square one. While I never considered myself an alcoholic (but who does in the moment) I can see I am. I encourage you to stay strong and keep “not drinking.” Its not easy and know the cravings will become less strong and less frequent, but all in time.

  3. Yesterday they found my ex-brother-in-law dead. He had died alone in his living room 3 days ago and nobody noticed. He was 53 years old (my age) and an alcoholic. He was strong, handsome, hard working and had a winning smile that would attract any woman. Three wives tried to rescue him, to no avail. As we know, only you can save yourself. He had distanced himself from all his family and friends and there will be no services, only sadness and sorrow.

    I will remember the person that he no longer was. A man with a good sense of humor who loved to fish the Hillsborough River and drive around in his ’58 Corvette. It also reminds me why I have chosen the path I walk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.