Cravings Still Exist

The longer I go without alcohol, the less brain space it takes up. But occasionally a thought or craving will appear and, though fleeting, the intensity is surprising.

It’s been nearly eight years. Eights years! I spend most of my mental energy on things like kindness, honesty, service, and finding my glasses. But yesterday, tidying after a weekend of company, I felt a ZAP of wanting while handling the recycling.

I am generally comfortable being around normies drinking normally (which, I constantly say on The Bubble Hour, should be considered ABNORMAL because alcohol is addictive).

My rules are simple: I don’t buy it or pour it for others. I don’t handle the empties, more out of sassy contempt for stupid alcohol than anything. My husband is quick to considerately buffer me from theses tasks, anyway.

Our company this weekend was low-key and didn’t drink much more than a glass with dinner. We had a wonderful visit and lots of fun enjoying snow and sunshine. I was neither stressed nor triggered all weekend.

After everyone left, my husband and I busied ourself with our typical after-company routine. I cleaned the kitchen and ran the towels through the laundry. He did his usual things but failed to notice some empty wine bottles on the counter.

I’d seen them the night before and wished they were gone but knew he’d get to them. When they were still there the next day I said to myself, “Oh for heaven’s sake, just rinse them and toss them in the recycling.” No big deal.

Except. They weren’t all empty. There was some white wine left in one and the moment I discovered this I had a vision of swallowing it greedily, alone in my kitchen.

I paused ever so briefly before pouring it down the drain to acknowledge that I’d just made a choice.

Eight years in, every day, consciously or not, I make a decision.

I don’t have to be sober. I want to be sober. I get to be sober. I choose to be sober.

If you’re struggling, take heart. It does get easier. Don’t be discouraged to hear that cravings never go away entirely, because that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s just a reminder to never take our freedom and health for granted.

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39 comments

  1. Good rules, these. And some guidelines in there as well. I find cravings more often know for things I know will lead to a drink or a drug. You know. Anger, lust, stubbornness. There is a small army of smaller defects that can set me on a warpath. Thanks for your help in keeping me off of it today.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I will be 5 years sober in April and I’ve found that alcohol doesn’t consume my every thought these days like it used to. In fact, I don’t think about drinking very much at all now. However there are still times when a craving hits me seemingly out of nowhere. It kinda pisses me off when it happens. I’m like “Ugh! I thought I was done with you already.” It’s frustrating at times, but I’m glad to have them every now and then because they serve as little reminders to never let my guard down.

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      • I just found your blog. I have tried the moderation thing over and over without success. I’ve stopped drinking for 4-6 weeks at a time and then always go back. I’m 5-7 glasses of wine 2-3 days a week and then hungover the next day. I’ve been to AA meetings but hate the cult-like atmosphere. I’m on day 1 again so this blog is truly wonderful. My 65th Birthday approaches in two months and I hope to be sober celebrating it.

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        • Hi Taffy, living alcohol-free is a beautiful gift to yourself for this milestone birthday. The health benefits alone make it worth the effort, but you will also find it can create the space to take a good honest look inside and tinker around a bit. Be sure to listen to my podcast “The Bubble Hour” to hear other experiences and insights. It can be a real lifeline. Also I’ve heard that every AA group had a different “flavour” so consider trying a different meeting if you find yourself needing more structure and support. Also there are different programs to try – SMART Recovery, Refuge Recovery, and online programs and coaching, too. So many options! http://Www.blogtalkradio.com/bubblehour

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          • Thanks so much! I’m heading to Pal Springs for a month with a husband who drinks so I’m crossing fingers and toes that I can stay away from the wine!

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            • You might need some support while you’re there, either online or in person. Don’t be shy to try a meeting. Look online for an open meeting where you can just go and observe if you don’t feel ready to participate. And if you want online connections let me know. It can really help. Being away from home and out of your routine can really mess with the head. Stay strong and focussed on what’s best for YOU and keep doing the next right thing.

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              • Thanks. I have already back-slid. I think it was a a poor decision to try this on the eve of this trip which is also our 35th wedding Anniversary. My original plan was to get a plan in place after this trip so I could be in a safe and predictable place to get some sober time under my belt. It was probably not the best time to start this process. I’m still determined though and will continue to make strides. Thanks for the positive reinforcement.

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                • Hey, don’t think you have to keep drinking all trip now. Pause. Ask yourself what you really need and what is really best for you, moment to moment. Keep reaching out.

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                  • ks. I have already back-slid. I think it was a a poor decision to try this on the eve of this trip which is also our 35th wedding Anniversary. My original plan was to get a plan in place after this trip so I could be in a safe and predictable place to get some sober time under my belt. It was probably not the best time to start this process. I’m still determined though and will continue to make strides. Thanks for the positive reinforcement.

                    Liked by 1 person

        • I’ll be eight years this June and you speak what you’ve lived through as I have. It’s funny, how it just rears it’s ugly head occasionally….I was out yesterday with my son(35) and there was a table full of St.Patti’ s Day celebrates whooping it up and just a lil pang of, ohh how I wished I could have a drink! It goes away, but it never truly leaves your random thoughts. There’s no way in hell I would mess with that now.❤️☺️

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  3. I LOVE “I don’t have to be sober. I want to be sober. I get to be sober. I choose to be sober.” I want to say it just like that to people and I can’t wait for the next opportunity. You’ve been my inspiration since 8/26/13!

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  4. I am 9 months sober Unpickled. Your blog is fantastic and I feel as if I could have written many of those posts myself! We have a very similar journey. I have found myself extremely cranky and overwhelmed lately. It may be this time of year. I am rather desperate to find some more support for myself. I have looked online for sober meet ups in my area (St. Louis) but haven’t had much success. Do you have any recommendations as to the best online support groups/forums that I can seek out? I am a mom of elementary aged children (late in life parenting) and an really struggling to parent sober. I have read many blogs. Most of them are fantastic but I’m looking for a forum that I can communicate with people daily. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I am in awe of your fortitude, your class and your ability to reach people through this blog!

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  5. Your post was a reality check! I have been a year without alcohol and sometimes find myself thinking I made a big deal out of nothing which could not be further from the truth! I think not hitting a public “rock bottom” sometimes makes me feel that somehow I was a different drinker. What I realize listening to the Bubble Hour and reading is that I am very much like a lot of the guests who had nice lives and drank quietly and quietly spiraled out of control! Your post also reminds me that this choice is a mindful one that I will always need to be aware of, not obsessed, just need to pay attention. Thanks for sharing this…

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  6. I’m not comfortable with booze in my house. I do tolerate if I have to it but I am super aware of its presence. The smells and the bottles freak me out I think it’s too early for me. The thoughts never completely leave you but they become fewer. Thank you for acknowledging and being honest about it. It helps us to remember that this sobriety thing is a day at time deal. No one is ever out of the woods with this thing .

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  7. I had a little ripple of want course through my brain recently while I was enjoying shopping at a Whole Foods. I’m in Canada and we don’t have liquor in grocery stores so it’s a novelty. I found myself wandering in the beautiful wine section of the store admiring the selection , the single-serve tetra-paks with straws ,the lighting, the decor and to a Canadian, the deals on wine. For a minute-just a minute- I thought “hey, I’m away on a trip,it’s sunny, life’s good… what’s the worst thing that could happen.” Can’t believe I almost succumbed so quickly. Well, I left the store and didn’t go back, no need to tempt myself further.

    I also want to say to AJ and the other commenters new to this journey, don’t think about never drinking again. Just don’t drink right now. Tell your friends you have a headache and have Coke or meet them for coffee. You don’t owe anybody any explanation. Just take of you . It really does get easier and amazing!

    Happy New Year 😊 🌻 Day 932

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am 3 weeks sober and have been listening to your Podcast well before I actually stopped drinking. It’s been an ongoing inspiration for me, a reminder of how problematic my drinking had become. I have so much in common with you and many of the women in your show — two kids, a marriage, a career, and nobody really knew what a problem it had become. I’m taking it one day at a time. Honestly sometimes I get so overwhelmed at the thought that I can NEVER become a normal drinker again. All those activities – happy hour, wine tasting, holidays…the thought of a glass of white wine (which turns into a bottle or more) can be intense and what I currently find hardest is how to explain to people…I was just texted by a couple girlfriends about Happy Hour. I want to see them but don’t want to drink alcohol, so what do I say? I don’t want to get into it with most people at this point. Thanks for your blog and your Podcast, it’s been so incredibly useful to listen to when I need to hear voices that I can relate to.

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    • Hi AJ, I can empathize, it took me a while to learn how to manage situations like this. What worked for me was telling little lies here and there. I either didn’t “feel well” and decided to stay in, or was on “antibiotics”. That happened for a while, until I built up the courage to say, “I’m not drinking anymore”, and then “I don’t drink”. People still ask why, and though I agree that we/you don’t owe anyone an explanation, I offer a simple “I just decided to stop” or “it was having a too much of a negative effect on my body and I decided I didn’t need it anymore” just to shut people up. Most times though, once you say “I’m not drinking” people will say, “oh ok” and move on. Find what works for you, I’m rooting for you!

      Onward

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      • It’s weird at first but eventually you’ll start rediscovering all the things you enjoy that alcohol has blotted out. You’ll change up your routine – don’t do the same old things but dry. Do new things. Learn new things. Try new things. Talk to people. Listen. Laugh, really laugh. LIVE again. It gets easier, I promise.

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        • Hi. I am in UK. Stopped drinking alcohol in 2007. Started again in 2016 when my husband became really ill with kidney failure following prostate cancer. ( unrelated) . He has endured a failed kidney transplant six months ago. He is dialysing every other day at our local hospital. I haven’t had a drink today and have so enjoyed reading your blog! Could I have your thoughts and prayers to help me please. Kathy

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  9. Thanks Jean and happy new year to you. Today is 771st day sober! I agree cravings never go away, though they become less and less frequent as the time passes, for me too their intensity catches me by surprise. I was away on vacation and had plenty offers from family to drink (the culture in my family around alcohol use is if you don’t look like the protypical “alcoholic” you don’t have a problem), they don’t know why exactly I stopped drinking, just that I don’t drink. And that’s good, but the thoughts were there and were not aided by all the offers. I was surrounded by alcohol during the holidays and still I chose not to drink! An amazing feat.

    Fast forward to yesterday, on my 770th day sober. While at a gathering with some friends, I took a sip of someone else’s wine, by mistake! Here’s how it happened: Two glasses that looked the same, one had wine (someone else’s) one had sparkling cider (mine). I was distracted texting, didn’t look up reached for my “glass of cider” and took a swig, I swallowed a little bit of it before I realized what happened…in that moment I had a choice, either a) swallow the rest of the wine, or b) figure out a way to run to the bathroom discretely and spit the rest out. After a brief moment of panic, and what felt like an eternity, I chose b) I ran to the bathroom and spit the rest out. I then took a brief moment to reflect on what I had just done, I made a choice to not drink the rest of that wine and basked in that for a bit, then went on with my evening. In that moment I thought I need to share this at unpickled! So this post, as always is most welcome and timely!

    Onward!

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  10. Yes. It’s definitely a choice.
    I much prefer my home to be alcohol free. When I am in a hotel with a mini bar it makes me antsy. If it’s not there I never even consider it.
    I also like to protect myself.i am human and occasionally prone to destructive behaviour. Having alcohol around always seems like a relapse waiting to happen. The f## it’s can creep up pretty quickly, especially when things go wrong.

    I’m always happy to see a post from you!
    Anne

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Thank you for this, and good timing. I’m on day 220 and thoughts of drinking 10 bottles of slight-alcohol kombucha have been peppering me over the past couple of days. I’ll be fine. But this is weird and I appreciate your note about it never completely goes away…… xo Adrian

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Eight years later it’s still a choice. So what? Eight years later it’s what you decide to do with that choice. I’m thinkin’ that’s likely the bigger issue here. Sounds as though you’re livin’ life just the way you need to be livin’ it.

    Well done, kiddo.

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    • I am sober almost 2 1/2 years and this past week had family at my house visiting. I feel the same as you when it comes to booze guests bring it and take it home on the way out. I have not been in a liquor store since my sobriety date. My sister in law stepped out of the room and there was a good red in a pretty glass with in hands reach. For a moment I froze, my mouth began to water, the famlair taste, heart racing. I made the choice not touch it. I was reminded of how powerful alcohol is to me. As the night went on I watched my sister in law fade into the bottle. I could have easily started that cycle all over again. Acceptance and honesty saved me. But thoughts are just thar!

      Liked by 2 people

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