There is an old saying that winners never quit and quitters never win. I see it differently. In my experience, it was only when I finally quit that I started to win.
After two decades of trying to make it work in my life, I gave up booze. Nothing earth shattering happened. I didn’t hit some stereotypical “rock bottom”. I wasn’t even a daily drinking.
I threw in the towel before there were ultimatums or DUI’s. Before there was job loss or friendships lost. I tried and tried to make drinking fit in my life, but I started missing life because of all the time I spent thinking about drinking.
When Is It Time to Quit?
My kids were growing up fast. My oldest daughter’s legs getting long and lean, my son’s baby face growing more angular by the day, my baby no longer fit snugly in my arms – and I was missing it all.
I got tired. Tired of trying to mask the constant tension I felt deep in my bones with wine. Because living for 5 o’clock isn’t really living at all. And while the idea of moderation is nice, what I came to accept is that I’m an alcoholic, and the amount of energy it was taking me to control my drinking was sucking the life out of me.
So I raised the bottom. I quit. And I did it before I lost anything at all.
If you’re like I was, it is easy to keep on drinking when you haven’t lost anything because of it. But I knew in my gut that if I kept on going, the losing was coming. And there is nothing I hate more than losing. So in order to win, I had to quit.
When it comes to alcohol it is easy to convince ourselves that we can control it. And if we have not lost anything, we can not imagine that we could ever end up under the bridge. But what I came to realize is that was exactly where I was headed. Every time I drank I was rolling the dice; the control was an illusion.
When to Quit is Actually the Bravest Thing You Can Do for Yourself
I am the woman under the bridge sipping from the paper bag. We are the same, she and I. Only I quit before she did. Before I lost. Before I lost it all.
Society portrays an alcoholic as someone who must reach some earth shattering “bottom” to get sober. But the truth is many of us look like we have it all together. We compete in marathons, are members of the PTO, arrive at school pickup with perfectly coiffed hair and manicured nails.
You don’t have to be falling apart at the seams to be an alcoholic. You do not need to be homeless, drink daily, unable to hold a job, or have a DUI.
In fact, many of us own our own homes, are reliable, go to church, have family and friends who love us, hold good jobs, come from good families, and appear to have control over our lives, which makes it even easier for us to believe that we can control our drinking too. Until, of course, we can’t – and that is precisely the time we will start to lose.
The thing about alcohol is that it does not discriminate. It is a great equalizer. It tries to tighten its grip on us all just the same – and if it gets ahold, there is no person or amount of money that can save us. We must do the saving ourselves. And the only way to do that, is to quit.
To quit is the very best thing I have ever done in my life – and but by the grace of God, I did it before I lost anything at all.
And guess what? I won my life back.
No more checking my watch to see if it’s 5 o’clock so that I can pour some merlot. No more wasted energy making plans that involve large amounts of booze. No more thinking about drinking. Instead, you can find me with my three kids, singing and dancing, playing dress-up, being a tickle-monster. My husband every night looking at me with a different kind of love. And this is all happening because I decided to quit that habit that was doing nothing but to eat me up alive.
If you are reading this and it bothers you how much you think about drinking, there is another way. You do not have to wait until you lose to quit. It is not easy, but it is worth it.
Reach out your hand – the quitters, we’re everywhere – one of us will be on the other side to grab it.