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Struggling with Dry January? Read a former drinker’s account of the sober relationship

By Darren Taylor author of Finding Your Sober Bubble

You’ve decided to stop for good. That’s it, alcohol has run your life and ruined your relationship for far too long. Every argument you and your spouse, partner or significant other ever have, is a result of you being drunk or them resenting the fact that you drink to get drunk…. sound familiar?

You don’t have to be violent, aggressive, stupid or lackadaisical when intoxicated, but something just rubs them up the wrong way and finally, you have decided to do something about the problem.

Quitting alcohol is one of the hardest things to do in society today, and there are many top tips, methods such as taking inventory with AA and so on. There is also, of course, the aftermath of quitting alcohol and what to expect.

For most people the first 30 days are the hardest, as you try and adjust to a new way of life and deal with alcohol cravings and mood swings, amongst other delights. What the majority of people don’t realise, including those around and closest to the person quitting the booze, is that this adjustment can take far longer.

In fact, it can be many months or even years until the former problem drinker is totally comfortable with the idea of being teetotal. Even then there could always be a lingering feeling of ‘why did it get to this’ or ‘am I missing out’.

There will be occasions when relationships will be tested, but now it’s not because of you drinking, it’s because of others.

Understanding that these feelings and tests will pass, is key to success and sobriety, and you must understand the normality of them and the fact that you are so much better off health wise.

Here’s a recent example where I didn’t feel I was missing out as such, but my mind was going ten to the dozen (it’s a saying that means thinking too much). Now it may not surprise you (or it shouldn’t anyway) that I write things down when I feel stressed, annoyed, lonely or any other emotion for that matter, that can affect my Feng Shui, and for me, it helps with perspective.

We (my wife, kids and myself) had been invited to our neighbours for some drinks for a belated party. No problem with this, they are friends and have kids a year or so younger than ours.

They are also big drinkers and I already knew it would be a late one for them, and that they would all be swilling and quaffing beer and wine like no tomorrow. And whether they admit it or not, it is to get drunk. Needless to say, we don’t see as much of them given my status as a sober warrior!

So, my daughter begged my wife to stay at the bash, but I left and came home with my son, who didn’t want to be there (13-years-old, say no more!). It was already 11.45pm and it annoyed me that I had come home alone.

As my mind raced, this is what I wrote: “My relationship with my wife has seen it all. In the end, I had to choose sobriety or risk losing her and upheaving my children. Best decision I ever made, and I know these thoughts will pass but…. why do I feel it’s a choice of choosing to drink or leaving her.

“Lately, I have begun to think we simply are not compatible because of alcohol. I am writing this laid in bed on a summer evening listening to the party across the road that I left at 10.45pm to come home and be in the same house as my 13-year-old son. I left alone, and my wife stayed with our nine-year-old daughter.

“Fuming! It sounds like they are playing beer pong, something that was mentioned earlier and something I now find ridiculous and an excuse to get rat-arsed. Music to my ears… not!

“It seems we have switched roles. For 20 years she has wanted me to cut down on my alcohol intake, and after letting it get the better of me, I eventually had to stop for good. I stopped for her, I stopped for my family. Now we clearly want different things.

“As for me, there is no happy medium in terms of alcohol and I fear if I start again then I will become worse. For her, it feels like she drinks more now than ever and I feel as though it’s payback.

“In the first place, I was never a nasty drunk, but she just didn’t like me after I had been drinking.

“The analysing after I had been out actually made me hide my drinking more, and although it pains me to say, she has to take some responsibility for how things have turned out. We need to consider the way forward because right now I am not happy with the status quo, and something must give. I just hope it isn’t me turning to drink. Things will be different in the morning. Remember that!

“Now you’ve got that off your chest, take it easy, and tell the Demon to piss off. He’s talking shite anyway!”

Darren and wife Emma

Now for the reality:

Shortly after writing that they came home went to bed with a ‘Goodnight, love you’ and apart from a rare (these days) late night, no harm was done. In the morning I had a totally different view.

Adjusting to sobriety is hard. It is also hard for the other half of the relationship, and as with any successful business, partnership, marriage or other relationship, there must be trust and compromise. That’s it.

This situation is a classic example of how alcohol has a hold on society, but also on the former drinker by occupying space in their mind, even when they are not drinking.

Yes, it was late, and yes you could argue that we should have all come home together, but in reality, it is not a regular occurrence, my daughter wanted to stay, my wife was having a good time and I had enjoyed the evening but wanted to leave earlier. It doesn’t make any of us wrong or right, it makes us compromise, so I left.

The important thing from all of this, as you may have picked up from my notes that evening, is that I knew the thoughts would pass and sobriety was, and still is, the best decision I have ever made.

What we need to be clear on, and it is a reality check, is that these thoughts may never leave us, but it is how we handle them that count.

And always remember, things will be different in the morning.

Take care… Darren

To read more of Darren’s blog: theunioflife.com

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