The hardest part of giving up drinking is breaking a lifetime’s habit. If, like me, you always went for beers after work on a Friday. Or came home from a hard training session at the gym and before anything else, cracked open a beer. If, like me, you needed drink for most social occasions and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night out with the lads then the habit can look like a mountain to climb and you’ve been given flip flops to climb it in.
But once you’ve decided that you want or have to give up drinking then the habit is the first thing you need to strike against. I started to meet up with the lads a little later than I would normally and have a list of ready excuses why I was going to be late. Getting to the bar late worked in two ways, I’d drink less and I’d avoid the round. If I was in a round then I was going to always end up drinking at the pace of the fastest drinker, which made me an early casualty. Then I decided to drive one night. This worked the best, my excuses were always varied but I’d show that there was a benefit to the group because I could drive out of town or to bars we wouldn’t normally go to. I became the driver.
Facing a lifetime of habits to break takes time. No different to climbing a mountain or planning a project. It can’t all be done in a day, Rome wasn’t built in a day and giving up drinking will take a bit longer than that. I decided that I couldn’t touch another drop of beer once I’d made the decision that I had to give up. The hardest part was then avoiding all drinking from that point on. I drove everywhere, giving me the perfect excuse not to drink at all.
I wanted to drink, but I kept returning to the vision I’d created of imagining my own funeral. Dead from a lifetime’s drink and the worst part of this vision, being the only person to attend my funeral. It was this horrible vision that kept me focused. No different to climbing the mountain where you see the peak you are climbing, and visualising the view at the top when you reach it.
For me I kept visualising what it would be like not to have to worry about going to any social occasions without the need to drink. What would it be like at my own wedding without getting drunk, or saying my groom’s speech whilst completely sober and no interest to get drunk? These were completely unusual feelings, since there hadn’t been many occasions that I hadn’t been drunk at over the years.
Oh but once the habit is broken, is like a day of only sunshine, unbroken cloud and birds tweeting in the sky. It’s like all your Christmases’ coming at once. Just the same as reaching the mountain peak, the view over all the other mountain tops is a view to take your breath away. The effort you put into reach the top of the mountain is no less than finally managing without drink. A day to celebrate for sure.