One of the first things I noticed when I quit drinking alcohol was its ubiquitous presence. Strangely, I'd never realized how frequently the theme of alcohol arose in my daily life. And by my daily life, I mean yours, too. It's in radio commercials, TV shows, movies, social media posts even Hallmark stores for God's sake. Can't cope with life? Have a drink. Boss sucks? Have a drink. It's noon somewhere in the world... Have a drink.
It's kinda crazy how the constant presence of liquor went unnoticed until I quit drinking. I first noticed its prevalence during my daily commute to and from work as I listened to the radio. When I first stopped drinking, it seemed like every time I sat in the driver's seat, I'd be hit up by a beer commercial. Or I'd be listening to the hosts talk up an event at a bar or share a story related to boozing. It's not that this offended me, or had me fighting the urge to hit the LCBO for a bottle of vodka. However, it certainly was an unpleasant reminder (especially at the start of my journey) that I was no longer enjoying the stuff. That I used to be in on it. Now, I was an outsider.
I found it odd that I hadn't noticed its presence before this. I believe the difference lies in my reaction. For the many years I enjoyed drinking, the references to its various products, benefits and stories of inebriation simply affirmed my drinking habit. I was like so many other people. All of us enjoying the effects of alcohol -- making us more social, relaxed, less inhibited. All those so-called benefits were re-affirmed with every reference to drinking.
Once I quit, my reaction changed. Every reference reminded me of my cravings, what I'd given up and, increasingly, I was frustrated over the push to encourage people to believe they're happier when intoxicated. This is something that I've come to recognize is simply untrue.
If you're just beginning your sober lifestyle, facing a barrage of references to alcohol and how great it is, will become your new normal. The good news is that it'll strengthen your ability to manage your triggers by virtue of extra practice. The not so good news is that you will be tempted to return to your favourite beer or glass of wine when all the stars align. After a long day at work on a late Friday afternoon, with the sun shining and a patio around the corner, seeing a beer commercial featuring beautiful people laughing and looking oh so fabulous will increase the temptation to down a cold one.
You'll need to remember why you've quit. Whether it's for 30 days or for good, stick with your plan. And, if you give in, don't beat yourself up about it. Jump back on track the next morning. If you feel guilty, remember that guilt. It may help you resist the next time the stars are aligning.