Seven little words

This month I have been doing an evening course about overcoming addiction. It is run by my local drugs and alcohol service.

The course has been excellent. I now have a much better understanding of addiction, addictive desire and how to overcome it. The course is run on a small group basis and I have four new friends each at different stages of their sober journey.

Last night was the last session. We were looking at the future and were asked to come up with a plan for our future use of alcohol.

My plan was straightforward. I wrote “not to drink again, ever.” I think this was easier for me than some of the others because I have not had a drink for 8 weeks (56 days !) In the end though, we arrived at a watertight plan for everyone in the group “I will never use alcohol again”. Some of us felt able to say those words out loud. Others didn’t feel ready.

Saying out loud “I will never use alcohol again” was empowering. It made me feel calm, in control and relieved. Perhaps I also felt proud of how far I have come.

But then the tutor suggested we add “and I will never change my mind”. I wasn’t able to say those seven little words. For me although I have no intention of ever drinking again, I still can’t come to terms with forever. I picture myself on my 80th birthday, not drinking a glass of champagne, at my 40th wedding anniversary, not having drink and it doesn’t seem possible.

There are some things I can say with absolute certainly that I will never do and will never change my mind about. Extreme things. There are other things which I say I will never do but which I can see that in extreme circumstances I could potentially change my mind about. I don’t eat meat but if I were ever to find myself starving on a parched desert island with no plants and the only option was to eat meat, I have no doubt at all that I would do it.

I know I don’t need alcohol to survive. In fact, if I continued drinking I would be unlikely to see my 80th birthday or 40th wedding anniversary. I know that no one can force me to drink. The choice is mine and mine alone. Yet still I am uncomfortable with saying I will never change my mind.

I think I need to work on that a bit more…

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