“Been There, Done That”

As any of you who have been clients may remember, I am fond of saying that “long ago I put vodka into my ‘been there, done that,” bag and left it there along with a number of other things, activities, and people. This phraseology is simply part of rooting out 12 Step mythology and the idea of lifelong “addictions” and other notions which make change more difficult than it needs to be.

Really, if you think about it, how many former activities, friendships, and things which you used to enjoy have been left in the dust over time?

Personally, I no longer ride motorcycles or drive dog teams. I do not spend July and August as a commercial salmon fisherman nor June as a placer miner.

Perhaps more relevantly, I haven’t consumed much vodka in the past 35 years nor any cigarettes in more than 20.

These latter two are supposedly the toughest habits to break. I underline “habits” because, if you listen to any ex-smoker you will normally hear “I kicked the habit.” No, they don’t talk about needing to go to meetings in some back room to sit around glorifying what smoking did to them. Nor do they count days since that last cigarette or award themselves ten cent medals for how long it’s been.

There really isn’t any reason why giving up alcohol should be any different – except it’s easier to quit drinking than it is smoking. Ask anyone who’s done both.

So, maybe start with examining the contents of your own “been there, done that” bag and discover what you have already given up, who you’ve learned to get along without, and note the time it took to get used to a new normal.

That exercise should help prepare you for yet another change – one that will enhance your life and one you can start any time you choose.

“It’s Just An experiment!”

That’s right – it isn’t a forever choice.

Do not unnecessarily burden yourself with the idea that you must give up drinking for the rest of your life. That just has you imaging, “how will I ever get through” everything from a death to a wedding to a neighborhood Bar-B-Que.

Instead of predicting how awful it will be, think about this possible change as an adventure into living a different life – just like it would be if you moved to an exotic land where you needed to make new friends, were distanced from family, and had new customs to adopt and adapt to.

It could, after all, be interesting! Imagine that.

And don’t saddle yourself with a dreary cult.

Yes, some of us, as foreigners in a distant land huddle up with ex-patriots and form exclusive clubs that “protect” us from whatever we might learn fro a different culture. That even happens around military bases where spouses avoid involvement in local communities because they know that eventually they will be moving on so why get involved or attached.

Note that that is exactly what happens to those who join AA, never to interact with “normies” again, but instead stay huddled up in their little cult, terrified to live life.

But none of the dreaded fates of change need be real. You get to decide. You are far more capable of changing, finding unexpected pleasures in a different life style, and most of all, the self-esteem that comes from defeating a difficult opponent – even when, and maybe especially when, that opponent is yourself and all of your incorrect beliefs about yourself, alcohol, life in general.