I got back from my camping trip yesterday, and while it was sooo nice to sleep in my bed last night and take a shower (it turns out my “tan” was just layers of dirt), I already miss being out in nature.
We didn’t have a camping reservation (yes, that’s a thing!), so we just drove to the mountains hoping we’d get a spot. We almost couldn’t find anything, but after a couple of hours driving around we finally found the second to last spot out of hundreds of already-occupied spots.
In my previous post, I talked about realizing how far I’ve come in my sobriety journey, and today I’m realizing just how much my mindset has changed about drinking. I used to have an intense association with going camping and binge drinking. I once went on a river rafting camping trip and got so incredibly drunk that I barely remember parts of it. What a waste of an amazing experience! I remember that after hours of drinking moonshine (as if I needed that!) and beer in the sun and getting pretty damn sloppy, I went to take a nap in my tent. When I woke up I felt horrible. My head was throbbing, my mouth was parched, and I felt very out of it. One of the girls on the trip commented about how I was pretty drunk and gave me that familiar look of judgmental concern. I laughed and said, “Yeah, I think it was the moonshine that did me in.” Five minutes later, I was asking someone to pass me the moonshine again! I hated it and I wanted it all the same time. My conscious desire to stop drinking was deeply at odds with my subconscious belief that I needed more to have fun and be social.
One of the reasons I failed to stay sober during my attempts at sobriety in the past was because I couldn’t get over the idea that I was giving up something by not drinking. I truly believed that I couldn’t have fun without alcohol. Even worse, I recall thinking that life wasn’t even worth living if I couldn’t drink and “have fun” like everyone else. I would feel envious of people drinking and then foolishly think I could moderate, only to prove time after time that I couldn’t.
I’ve realized that my cravings for alcohol are simply my brain’s way of playing tricks on me. I don’t actually want to drink. Rather, I’ve been conditioned to think I need it to have a good time. We are all deeply affected by societal norms and beliefs, so much so that we don’t even question things, such as the belief that we need alcohol to have fun. We’ve been conditioned to believe that alcohol is a necessary part of life and that anyone who doesn’t drink is missing out or abnormal. We believe this just like we believe grass is green.
Remember how we were as kids? We didn’t need alcohol to have fun. We didn’t even think about it. We had a freaking blast playing games, being outside, or running around like lunatics with our friends. It wasn’t until we started getting bombarded by messages in the form of ads, peer pressure, commercials, TV shows, and movies that we started to believe that we needed alcohol to enjoy life.
By changing our beliefs around the benefits of alcohol, we can directly impact our ability and desire to be sober. My subconscious mind has been hard at work for years buying into this distorted belief system. Now that I am changing, questioning, and becoming aware of these false beliefs, they no longer have the hold on me that they once did. Reading This Naked Mind by Annie Grace helped me so much in reprogramming my mind around alcohol. If you’re trying to quit drinking, or even want to drink less, I truly cannot recommend it enough. It’s what helped get the ball rolling for me, and it even solidified my boyfriend’s desire to quit entirely too!
During this recent camping trip, I thought about alcohol, but in a “I’m so glad I’m not doing that anymore” kind of way. One night there was a group of rowdy, fratty guys yelling and screaming in an obviously alcohol-induced frenzy. Not one part of me wished that I was involved with that. I sat there with my La Croix, watched the flames dancing in the campfire pit, and felt a certain sense of distance from that life that I once had, and it felt really good.
I was fully present and able to enjoy the surroundings and conversation. And I remembered every moment.
Funnily enough, last night I had a dream that I drank on the trip. All my hard work, down the drain. I woke up in a panic, almost in tears. It took me several seconds to realize that it was just a dream and that I didn’t drink. Holy shit, let me tell you, the relief in realizing I was still sober was overwhelming. I don’t need to try that dream on in reality. I don’t want to ever feel that panicked morning feeling again in real life.
And thankfully, I don’t ever have to.
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