Kate's Blog

The Thing That’s Really Holding You Back

There’s a stinky, uncomfortable truth that everyone experiences but no one wants to say out loud. So here it is:
On some horrible, embarrassing level, it’s easier to stay where you are and be miserable than it is to do what it takes to change your drinking and your life.
It’s a pretty uncomfortable idea, right?
But it’s the dirty secret that so many of us have harboured – and it relies on its embarrassing nature to stay alive.
There are probably lots of things you know you could do. You read about them here. And when you wake up in the early hours of the morning, tired but unable to sleep, you swear that you will do something about your drinking – soon. You promise to end this cycle of hangovers, regrets and remorse. You’re not happy and deep down, you know you can’t keep doing this to yourself.
But later, the motivation fades. You start to wonder whether it’d be better to put things off for a bit. Maybe you should wait until work seems less stressful, or you’ve been to that wedding, come back from holiday or – you know, you just have a bit more time.
It’s totally normal. Every single one of us has been there.
Personally, I know there was a part of me that quite liked being stuck, because it got me off the hook.
As long as I felt confused and miserable and frustrated, I didn’t have to put myself fully on the line. Even when I read something that resonated with me and made me think, ‘perhaps I could do that’, there was also a part of me that tried hard not to relate. I wanted to pretend that I was different. When change felt so hard, it was much easier to shrug and say, ‘that won’t work for me’.
It was much safer to stay in my comfort zone. It didn’t take any effort to sink into the ranks of people drinking too much after work, buying a few bottles of wine on the way home, posting memes about wine o’clock and declaring that it ‘must have been a good night’ because I couldn’t remember any of it.
Perhaps you can relate?
Changing your drinking certainly isn’t easy, but the good news is there are things you can do to make it less scary and lonely. And when you start to do that, staying stuck seems much less appealing.
The following two steps worked really well for me and I bet they will make a huge difference for you, too.

black1 small-minSurround yourself with people you can be honest with.

You need to build a tribe – a group of people who understand and support you, and can help you defeat that voice in your head that urges you to stop overreacting. The lovely women who take part in my stop drinking course always comment on how transformative it is to have the support of people who ‘get it’. When we’re feeling low, we need people who will lift us up, hold us accountable, offer advice, ideas, insights … this is your protection against the urge to ‘give up and give in’.
This week, have a think about 3 people who could form the basis of your tribe and ask them if they’ll support you in your shift. See what they have to offer. Maybe they’re friends, family, or people from other areas of your life. They could be a counsellor, coach, or someone you’ve met online – perhaps through writing a blog or joining a Facebook group. It doesn’t matter who you turn to. What matters is that you have someone there.

black2small-minAsk yourself this question: What’s the worst possible thing that can happen?

When you’re trying to change your drinking, there’s a real risk that you’ll mess up, fail, or fall flat on your face. Sometimes we instinctively prefer to stay stuck – and miserable – rather than go through the pain of trying and failing.
One way to get around this is to face the worst possible outcome head on. Don’t just think about this loosely; tease out every single scenario that could go wrong and think about how you’d deal with it.
Next, flip things around and ask yourself what’s the worst that will happen if you decide to do nothing and keep your life exactly as it is? In five years’ time, will you look back and have regrets? What might your drinking look like if you don’t take action now? Make a list. What you’re trying to establish is what’s the ‘worst of the worst’. Is it going for it – or not going for it? I think you might be surprised what comes up.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this one.

Did this resonate with you? If you’re wrestling with this right now, let me know how you get on with the two steps above. What’s your answer to the worst case scenario question?
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the sunshine and have a great week!

Hi, I'm Kate

I founded The Sober School to show you there’s another way out of your shame that doesn’t involve AA or rehab. 


29 Responses

  1. I’d love Not to drink anymore. I agree with everything you’ve written and felt everything.
    I’m ashamed of my intake. I think every time I stop the thing that’s got me drinking again is the thought of NEVER having any again, nothing else x

    1. Hi Steph, I understand that horrible ashamed feeling completely. Keep trying though, I tried to quit a couple of times and never made it past a couple of days but i have managed nearly a month and a half sober now. Good luck x

      1. Hi, yes I also feel ashamed and hide my intake. I have only lasted a couple of days too for that reason. I am going to try again today and think of today and not next week or next year. Robyn congratulations, how well do you feel ?

    2. Hi Steph – you can stop drinking without having to commit to ‘forever’. Why not try setting smaller goals that don’t feel so intimidating?

  2. For me to stop drinking I cut myself off from my friends. I did this even though most of my drinking I did alone at home. I still don’t drink but I’ve got no friends, no one to talk to. I made the biggest mistake of my life cutting my friends out of my life – blaming being in their company for my drinking. All I can say is please don’t do that.

    1. It’s really impressive that you have managed to stop. Have you tried writing to your friends to explain what was happening with you at the time? X

    2. i did the same exact thing and ended up drinking way more alone once I realized I how lonely i was. I have been trying for 3 years now. I had 3 months twice- with 1 dumb night to break up that 6 months. But here I am…and what they say is true…it just gets worse…no one ever comes back to say, damn I am so happy I went back to drinking. I am so full of shame and guilt and my 11 year old son is so sad and disappointed in me. I feel like I have tried everything and here I am.

  3. Yes, it is easier to just going back to the way you always were. Maybe even deluding yourself into thinking the drinking is better because you’ve taken breaks from it. It definitely takes support to stop. If it means making a new friend it’s worth reaching out. And your old friends, if any of them are true, should be supportive no matter what. I’m still hiding from a few old friends, but I’ve finally reached the one day at a time stage. It truly is one day at a time. You can’t control the future in huge periods of time. I am slowly reaching out to a couple people who know that I want to change. It’s difficult, it takes time and that’s okay. Trust your good intentions.

  4. I did get in my own way. What I couldn’t change or make better in life I could make disappear with alcohol at least for the evening. Facing life’s challenges isn’t easy but it is much better than drinking alcohol and subsequent regrets

    1. I quite agree – at first it can be hard to face things head on, to not be able to hide in a drink. But in the long term isn’t that the best way to live? Sarah Hepola puts this quite nicely in her book, Blackout, when she says: “Sobriety is full throttle. No earplugs. No safe distance. Everything at its highest volume. All the complications of the world, vibrating your sternum.”

      1. I really need help at quitting I feel very. Ashamed when I drink I black out don’t remember anything and I drink 2bottles of wine at night alone glad I found this site I hope I can stop for my family as well my brother committed suicide which has been very difficult my parents fear that I will drink myself to death hope I don’t let them down again please help Janet

        1. Hi Janet, thanks for getting in touch. The best way for me to help you is via my online programme. It’s an intense, 6 week group coaching course, all taught online in a private classroom. The next course will be in October – if you’re interested you can check out details here: https://thesoberschool.com/course/

  5. This resonates with me. I am on day 1 and am determined to be AF. I have had so many day 1s in the last few weeks, however on the upside a few months ago I couldn’t go a day. I will try the list now as I’m formulating strategies and writing it all down so I can refer to them when the motivation weakens.

  6. Did a full 4 weeks sober…..having been slipping up again recently….More determined than ever to try!!!!!
    Day 1 again….

  7. 4 months sober from a very long time of drinking. Set the goal of one day at a time, find your support group and finally be true to your self if you want off the booze train.

  8. I know that I find it easier to start drinking again than to stop forever. It is when I am feeling better about life that I am most vulnerable. As if I can reward myself for good behaviour. I also think hormones come into play. Perhaps I am just making excuses! But I must keep on keeping on. Life has so much to offer.

  9. I stopped drinking for two weeks, this was my first attempt ever. I thought I could handle going out with a friend and not drink, but it didn’t happen. Last night I got home from work and I was right back to pouring a glass of wine to relax, then another and another. I feel lousy this morning, but will just keep one day at a time as my goal.

  10. I am always joking about being a closet smoker. I truly don’t like people to know I smoke. I worked for a boss who for 7 or 8 years didn’t know. When he found out, Im sure he said, “i have less respect for you now.” I never ever joke about being a closet alcoholic:(. My alcoholic husband is alwys there to tell Me “you are just fine”or “you don’t do it every day.” I can drink socially, but prefer the privacy of my own home… Where usually 3 times a week if I have one I have 5 or 6, God forbid once in a while…. I have more.
    The shame is overwhelming and I much prefer to stop drinking, “in my closet.”

    1. I feel like I was listening to myself I so understand I’m a closet smoker myself and prefer to drink alone and I have no friends really except at work just wish I could quit

  11. I was able to make it to six months on my first attempt and that would have been a year ago in June. I can’t put my finger on the exact thing that had me reaching for that glass but I can say that the thing that is keeping me from trying again is the fights my husband and I would get into before bed as I hated lying there and smelling his beer breath. I have no friends or family to lean on and AA is not my thing. Deb your comment could have been written by me.

  12. Kate, you are absolutely right about this one. I am the only one getting in my way of feeling good everyday. I have so many lessons under my belt that are 100% true no matter what. If I even have one glass of wine I will wake up between 3.30 am and 4am and be up the rest of the night. If I drink wine for the whole weekend, my clothes will be tight and I will have to diet throughout the week to get the weight off. If I use the excuse that I feel left out when my husband is having beer in the middle of the afternoon and then join him. We will fight and end up saying very hurtful things to each other.
    If I know these things to be true, why do I think this time it will be different. Why do I stand in my own way?
    I’m hoping that this in itself is a lesson I’m learning. I need to learn to not doubt that I already know the truth about drinking.

  13. This is about my 50th day 1. I really, really want tomorrow to be day two. I’ve read tons of books and “know” a lot on the subject but just seem to crumble at 5:00.
    I wake up dusgusted with myself and the whole thing just starts over. It’s torture.

    1. It is very hard Annie. But do not give up. I too have relapses but try to pick myself up and stay positive. Life has so much more to offer all of us

      1. Thanks, Irene. I appreciate the encouragement. Last night was day two and I was hanging on by a thread. I decided to write in my journal and played it out to the end. I am ecstatic to report I’m on day 3!!!!! Crazy that three days (2 1/2) actually, causes me to feel so excited, but I am so proud. I have always had cocktail time with my husband when he comes home at 5, and that is a VERY tough time for me. He’s coming home a bit later today so I think I’ll just move on to a cup of tea!!!
        This is really exciting!!!

        1. Annie, Alot of us are not doing it “perfectly.” I, myself, will have 12 or 15 sober days and then get sucked into a glass of wine…yes, usually when my husband is off and 5:00 rolls around. I feel so blessed to have the tools to get right back to it. When did we ever think we could string together 15 days with no wine?
          Last weekend I did not drink with him for 2 days he was off, but then the 3rd day got me. All I have to say is that was better than the weekend before.
          As time goes on I’m learning my triggers and can see them coming.
          This week I cancelled a trip to see a very dear girlfriend. I knew that I would not be able to make it through the week without falling into the pit.
          For me, it’s a journey. I wish I could be one to say I’ve got 100 days. I DO have 100 days maybe just not in a row. For today I think that’s great. Tomorrow I may feel differently.
          Be proud of yourself and how far you’ve come.

          1. Kimberly D, my hope is that once I get a few weeks under my
            Belt my
            Husband will want to join me. I feel this would be so much easier if he gave up drinking too, but I’m not sure if that will ever happen. I am trying to be the change I want to see. I am on day 4, and my husband has cut back quite a bit but I know this choice is his. It’s odd to hang out together in the evening and he’s drinking and I’m not. im hoping, praying really, that he will join me on this journey. Maybe your husband will do the same. I feel I would be invinceable if he and I were doing this together. In any case, good job getting right back on track!!!!

  14. I just found Sober School this weekend. What good timing. Ive tried quitting several times with no real plans on how long it’ll be. Today will be, yet another, day 1. I felt so bad after a weekend of boozing that I actually woke up and said ‘yay! I get to be sober today’. But, like ive heard more than once here, my problem isnt when I wake up, its when the work day is done, and that urge takes over. I decided Im going to go get an indulgent dessert to have WHEN at the end of my witching hours, and I have succeeded, I will enjoy. Wish me luck!

  15. My two close friends are quite big drinkers – they probably don’t go a week without alcohol.. i just wish i had friends who didn’t drink. When i say im quitting alcohol they just seem disappointed, they’ll say ‘But you’ll drink on our birthday night out right?’ and i just feel bad saying no. I just know i’ll feel better not drinking, hate waking up with a hangover, feeling anxious about what ive done who ive text/called drunk etc.. im excited about not drinking but also just feeling abit sad that i dont have much support from close friends.

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