Friday, February 15, 2013

Just Do It

We're doing our fancy Valentine's Day dinner on Saturday night.  That means I get to marinate some beautiful beef in my famous marinade.  ('s famous around my house anyway.)  It consists of brown sugar, soy, and lots and lots of bourbon.  You put the steak in and marinate for as long as possible.  The flavor of the bourbon and brown sugar combined with the soy is just marvelous after it cooks on the grill.  And the bourbon breaks down the fibers in the beef so that it's fork tender when it's done.  Yum.

I made a mental note to check the liquor cabinet (cabinet over the stove) to be sure we had bourbon and then I had a chuckle...what kind of alcoholic has a liquor cabinet that is stocked with all sorts of spirits and who never has even the slightest urge to imbibe?

Answer:  Me. 

And that got my brain going to how we, as alcoholics come in all shapes, sizes and psyches and so do our recovery plans. What works for one may not work for another.  That is not a reason to give up on getting a life.  It just means you have to find a different path.

I do not attend AA.  In fact, the thought of having to go to AA kept me from getting sober for a long time.  I have written about this before but my prior experiences with AA as a family member (not as an alcoholic) were not positive.  But since I thought that was the only way someone could get and stay sober, I stayed drunk.

And then the pain of being a drunk was worse than the pain of getting sober so I quit drinking.

Eventually I did go to AA for awhile.  I later decided it wasn't for me and stopped going.  I think the organization is a miracle for many and it helped me move through recovery when I got stuck.  For that I will always be grateful.  But it's structure is just not what I need to stay sober. 

I've also been told (by a therapist no less) that I had a "high bottom".  (I wish he had been talking about my ass...but alas...)  I'll admit that when I first got sober that made me feel really good about myself because I was feeling pretty shitty about myself and I grasped any self-esteem I could find.  But as I move through recovery I realize that labels like "high bottom", "low bottom", "skid row drunk", really have no meaning.  What matters is that alcohol has taken control of your life and you need to take that control back.  It doesn't matter how you do that either...just do it.

And that got me thinking of how paralyzed with fear I was to quit drinking and that got my fingers to the keyboard.  So for all of you out there who are...
  • Sitting in front of Intervention on Monday nights with your glass of courage, watching the train wrecks and thinking, "At least I'm not that bad."
  • Comparing yourself to friends or relatives who drink and saying, "At least I'm not that bad."
  • Thinking, "I don't drink everyday!  I just don't have an off switch."
  • Saying to yourself every morning, "I am not going to drink today", only to feel your resolve slip away as the day goes on.
  • Find yourself in the grocery or liquor store thinking up reasons that you deserve this bottle.
  • Realizing how frightened you are of a life without alcohol.  What would you do for fun for Christ's sake? 
  • Are tired of seeing the dissappointment in your family's faces when they see you with a drink in your hand or smell it on your breath over the toothpaste and gum.  (You really aren't fooling anyone you know.)
  • Are tired of waking up with that pit of despair when you think, "What did I say/do last night and to whom do I owe an apology?"
  • On the phone first thing in the morning to call a friend, just to hear the tone in their voice because you're sure you fucked up but you just can't remember.
  • Are tired of waking up at 3 am with a sour mouth, upset stomach, night sweats and an inability to go back to sleep because you are in the middle of detoxing.

...I say fuck society.  I don't care if this beast is a disease, a condition, a label or all in my head (as has been suggested to me...sheesh!)  All I know is that it had to STOP.  So just decide.  Decide that once in for all you are going to stop this awful carnival ride with the scary clowns and the dirty carnys and you're going to take your control back. 


First be sure that you do not need medical help to detox.  Detoxing alone can be very dangerous.  See a doctor first.  See one in another town.  See one in an anonymous clinic.  Just check with one first.

  • Contact AA - just google it.
  • Call a friend.
  • Call a clergy member who you trust.
  • Make an appointment with a therapist.
  • Check into rehab (your insurance probably covers it).
  • Call your employers "Employee Assistance Services".  They are completely anonymous and very helpful.  You don't have to give your name if you don't want to.
  • Start a blog.
  • Start a journal.
  • Read recover memoirs.  I recommend "Drinking: A Love Story", by Caroline Knapp to get you started.
  • Just sit down and white knuckle it until you can't anymore and you need to do something else.  Then do something else.
  • And if all else fails, email me or one of my other blogger buddies - I promise we'll love you until you can love yourself again.

I know that this post may cause some to get angry, or defensive.  Some are probably thinking, "Who the hell is she to dispense advice." Or, "Tsk, tsk...she'll relapse one day."  Or maybe just, "Shut the fuck up Sherry." 

That's okay.  This is my blog and my thoughts and my attempt to help someone, anyone who might be struggling.  Because I wish I had found these blogs sooner.  And because I promise your worst day as a sober person will still be better than your best day as a drunk.

May you find your path and your peace.



  1. I don't go to AA either because my primary problem is depression. But I did find the God of my understanding there and use the 12 steps as the basis for my recovery. My recovery date is 11/24/1976 and I write about my spiritual journey in several blogs. My main 12th work is my FB fan page which I love doing. I've added this blog to the ones I read on my blog also named Emotional Sobriety.

  2. Fantastic post. Anyone reading please consider me on that list do reach out.

    As I read that list I could tick off pretty much every single one. As Sherry says "Just do it!"

  3. Pretty damned good, there Sherry :)

    Awesome, in fact. You really nailed this. I am AA, but I am fully aware that it's not the only way to get sober. And that's pretty groovy, as far as I am concerned. Sober is sober. Happy is happy. Productive is productive.

    Action is action! And that's what we do. Thinking and philosophizing about it doesn't remove the drink from our hand. Action does. Regardless how it's done, as long as something is done. I was in that place on inaction for a very long time. I knew in my heart that I was an alcoholic, but I still held on to that faint thread of hope that I wasn't, that I could control it. The old "this time it will be different" voice kept me in the game over and over.

    And I wholeheartedly agree with the "high bottom", "low bottom" thing is rubbish. Alcoholic is alcoholic. I broke a bone years ago, and the doctor want to perform surgery. I asked why, as it was only a hairline fracture. "A broken bone is a broken bone" she replies. Very true.

    Wonderful post - I hope that someone takes this advice to heart. Another sober person in this world in a beautiful thing.


  4. You almost had me lost with the bourbon marinade! I am definitely one of those that cannot have any booze in the house! - I swear it speaks to me! Lol!

    In all seriousness, wonderful post, very inspirational, with straight to the point directions, very helpful to someone trying to make a start, I know I had no idea where to begin!

    The beginning seems so hard but all you have to do is start and just do it!

  5. Yep, we're all kinds of labels and brands of messes when it comes to booze but we're one in the same in our ability to control it, or lack of ability thereof.

    I hope someone reads this blog today and thinks, "Today is the day", all of these people did it, I can do it. You can! As someone in one of the chatrooms I frequent said the other day, "If Kary May can get sober, anyone can."

    Trust us. Believe us. We've been where you are. We may sound as if we're all in control now, but we weren't. We were getting up every morning wearing the same mantle of defeat and futile hope, telling ourselves that, "This has got to stop." and then just letting it roll back over us and mow us down.

    Hell, I did it for 30 years.

    Don't waste any more time. Sobriety is better. Period.
    Trust us.

    If you're one of those that think you've gone too far and past the point of return, if you're thinking death may be your only means of escape, email me.

    I've been where you are, you don't have to live there anymore.

    1. Just wanted to clarify my statement about death being the only means of escape, I wasn't talking about suicide, although that definitely qualifies. I was talking about feeling so hopeless that you start to believe that you will die an alcoholic because there is no other way for you to overcome it. And maybe, just maybe, you hope death doesn't wait too long because you are so f'ing tired of living this way.

      You don't have to live that way, and you don't have to die. You just have to quit drinking.

  6. Oh this is such a great post. This is where your brilliant writing comes through loud and clear my friend. How strong and wonderful your words are here, and so true. I really do look to you for a lot of guidance and strength, I think you're amazing. Lots of love xxxxx

  7. I love this post, to! So many things I agree with. AA didn't work for me, although I went for awhile. I found it really great, on one hand...but it so much work! So much effort to go through all those steps, when I wanted to STOP working so hard and obsessing about drinking, and drinking, and wanting to stop drinking, etc.... I'm still a babe in the woods, just three weeks sober. But...I feel free. I think about other things. I feel like I'm getting my life back!! Thanks for your fabulous posts...

  8. Sherry -- I love this post. As the wife of an immortal alcoholic, I wish my husband would come to this realization. As the friend of many alcoholics, I have heard over and over again that AA just doesn't fit for them. I hear myself saying that there's more than one way to skin a horse. You just need to get the horse to stand still. -- Linda (The Immortal Alcoholic's Wife)

  9. Cheers Sherry!! Superb share!

    The paradox of alcoholism; at its core - we're ALL the same,, however, the disease will minifest differently and our recovery programs are individual.

    Something we all did (do) in recovery is try to drink like "the normal person" - I put seven years together - went on a trip to Europe and "tried drinking like a normal individual" - and,, I did for a many months. But the disease only allows this as a way to lure us back in to full blown alcohol abuse. Its a conspiracy I tell you :)

    btw, while I LOVE me a good marinade, I could NEVER keep bourban on hand; love bourban balls too. No,,, this kind of cooking requires monitoring. Is what it is - what separates us from thse still out there is knowing about our own addiction and how to arrest is

  10. Such an excellent post. I had no idea there were so many sober people outside of AA until I started blogging. It opened up a whole new world, for which I will always be grateful. Great recommendations on how to get started. There is no easy or right way to do it...just have to start somewhere.

  11. Just what I needed/wanted to read today. My favorite quote: getting off of the "awful carnival ride with the scary clowns and the dirty carnys." What a true. And thanks for your comment on my "playing along" post. I will keep blogging and on my path at one point I WILL quit drinking. Still figuring things out, but I am so grateful to be in a community where I am not judged for my honesty.

  12. I love your straightforward, no-nonsense, no pretensions message. I agree that society as a whole may seem judgmental. But there are individuals that are willing to help, and there are even those who built up their lives on helping others through their ordeals. And you've got a great amount of those people in your life! Plus, the things one can do to start on the path to just stopping. Thanks and Namaste!

    Scott @ MidWest Institute for Addiction


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