The Irrational Fear of Not Drinking

August 16, 2017

Captain Michael Morse, retired, Providence Fire Department

For me, the biggest hurdle I had to overcome before I finally decided to put the drink away for good was the fear of not drinking.
 
It was inconceivable that I could enjoy life without the very thing that I associated with enjoyment. Add to that the incessant barrage of images and messages from every branch of the media literally begging me to keep drinking and the task seemed insurmountable.

So I put it off.

Life was okay, I figured, work, drink, repeat. Maybe I could repair some fractured relationships some day, but in the mean time I was productive, kept my home in order and didn’t bother anybody. My drinking was my problem, and the people who didn’t accept that had a choice, my way, or the highway. When they chose the highway I still put the decision to stop drinking off. All by myself I drank. With everybody gone it became abundantly clear that I was drinking not because of them, rather it was because of me. I wasn’t seeking others to drink with, I drank alone. And I liked it. With just me and the booze life was simple. There was no nagging, no sneaking, lying or pretending I wasn’t drunk. It was good, clean honest suicide.

Sometimes we need to be alone to sort things out. The facts become less cloudy when there is nobody but you to argue with. There is no need to conjure excuses, reasons or justification for your behavior. There is simply you and that behavior. And if that behavior is doing nothing but providing a convenient escape from reality, the behavior is exposed for what it is; worthless.
Defining something as abstract as drinking to excess when every molecule in your body tries to keep it under control as worthless led me to begin the process of putting that behavior away. For good. Our thoughts control our actions, and simply thinking about taking action against my incessant need to drink was horrifying at first. I felt as if I were betraying myself. Slowly, my self-constructed wall of resistance, once impenetrable now developed cracks, simply by thinking about not drinking.

Living with a habit that controls you destroys your confidence one drink at a time. Thinking that you will finally fight that habit one day, one hour, one minute or one second at a time begins to rebuild it. Soon, that simple sincere though, “I can stop drinking” becomes as obsession, and before long the day of action arrives.

When that day came for me I had developed a three pronged plan of attack.

1. I found an AA meeting close to home and decided to attend, that night.

2. I called my wife, and told her of my decision to stop drinking. The fact that she was less than optimistic hurt, but was understandable.

3. I sought and found professional help.

Sometimes life forces you to wing it to achieve results. The fight against alcoholism is not one of those times. Winging it cost me decades of productive, sober living.

Without a properly thought out plan to stop drinking alcoholically, with achievable results that I truly wanted I likely would be homeless or worse.

One of the tools that I learned from people who had walked in my shoes was to see the drink through. I started seeing the big picture.


Drinking was no longer a temporary fix for the day’s frustrations; it was a life stealing curse that I absolutely did not need.


Defining the drink for what it was made going back to that drink inconceivable.

Perhaps the biggest surprise in my newly sober life was the realization that nobody but those directly affected by my drinking cared whether or not I drank. It just isn’t important to them what I do. When I was drinking I truly believed that my drinking was necessary for social acceptance. It wasn’t. It isn’t. It never will be.

The only thing I need to be socially acceptable is me.

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