Why the mundane moments are the ones you should be most afraid of in sobriety


I was recently talking to a friend and mentor who’s also in my program of recovery for alcohol and drug addiction. She looked at me and said, “maintenance for people like us is so important and highly underrated. You go to a meeting or wherever and you eventually get and stay sober, and then one day, sometimes months but often years later, you’re enjoying a sunny Sunday watching football with the windows open and you find yourself with a beer in your hand.”

She went on to say this: “It’s never the important times that make us drink again. It’s not the Thanksgivings with our deplorable relatives or Christmases with our overbearing mothers. It’s not the birthdays or the anniversaries. It’s the mundane, boring moments we need to worry about. Those moments are when we’re off guard, taking it easy, maybe missing a meeting here and there and not praying so much. Those moments are the ones that will take us out and, in many cases, never return us.”

If you’ve been sober for any amount of time and then relapsed, chances are it happened on a mundane Sunday (or any day of the week) when you were least expecting to pick up a drink. It’s happened to me, and it’s happened to so many others that I personally know. I guess the real question here is: why does this happen? Why don’t we relapse when we’re stressed AF at a holiday party? Why don’t we drink when we’re crying in the closet after a wedding anniversary that ended in fighting rather than in love? Why don’t we swallow a pill when our kid throws a tantrum because he didn’t get the latest $700 Xbox for Christmas (but got other just as equally awesome toys)?

Here’s my theory: The big moments, the equal parts exciting and fearful moments, are the ones we prepare for. We often stock up on meetings, pray a few extra times a day, and talk to a sponsor, mentor, or close friend in preparation for the big day, whatever that day may be. We’re ready, we’re armed, and we sure as shit aren’t going to be caught with a drink in our hands no matter how many times aunt Karen asks when you’re going to finally, for the love of God, get married. 

The small, boring, inconsequential moments? We have no defense against them. We’ve let down our guard, not realizing that our disease, our addiction, our craving to drink is right around the corner. We tell ourselves we’re fine, we’re just having fun with the boys or girls, we haven’t drank in X months or years, what’s the big deal if I don’t pray today or reach out to sober friends or catch a meeting? What harm could come from hanging out around booze or drugs with a spirit that’s running on low from lack of recovery-related efforts? What could possibly go wrong?

Well, my friends, everything. 

My mentor concluded with a phrase I’ll never forget: “It’s better to call someone for help before you drink than when you’re in a jail cell.”

That jail cell can be whatever propelled you to get sober – a broken marriage, a lost job, a DUI, or the inability to face yourself in the mirror every morning. Once you’re in that cell, it’s so, so hard to get out.

Just make the call. And make it before the mundane moments in life lead you to drink. 

People who need help sometimes look a lot like people who don’t need help_

5 realizations I had when I stopped telling myself I wasn’t good enough

Fear is something that I truly believe compelled me to drink, use drugs, diet myself into oblivion, workout in excess, stay friends or in relationships with people who suck, and all kinds of other behaviors that weren’t great for me or my wellbeing. Fear is the thread that weaves its way through most of my life and links all of my worst behaviors and decisions together. 

Growing up, I was always afraid I wasn’t enough. I have no idea where this idea came from – most likely a combination of messages received from my parents and the media. I watched my mom hate her body since before I can remember, and I watched my dad live in the personal hell that is perfectionism for just as long. Both of these traits I inherited, and both sets of beliefs transferred into “you’ll never be enough” in my still-developing and very impressionable brain.

When I found alcohol, it was like I had been handed the magic elixir labeled “you are enough now.” The more I drank, the better I felt. The freer I was. The more power I had. The less I gave a f*ck about what anyone else thought. For a brief few, highly intoxicated hours, I was finally enough. And when you’ve spent your whole life living under the less-than rock, this is the most seductive and empowering feeling you can experience.

Unfortunately, alcohol abuse turned into alcohol addiction, and addiction is nothing if not fear in the form of a legitimate disease. Fear that you’ll have to be sober for an event if there isn’t enough alcohol. Fear that your spouse will find out you’ve been drinking again. Fear that your friends will know you have a problem. Fear you won’t be able to stop. Fear that when you do stop, you’re life will be over. The more alcohol I drank, the more fearful I became. Because I never really learned how to cope with my not-enoughisms. I just learned how to mask it. And when you mask something like that for years, it ain’t pretty when you finally lift off the veil. 

When I stopped drinking, I had to learn how to face my fear of not being enough in a big way. Because if I didn’t, I would drink again. It was as simple as that. I had found the cure to my problem, and then I had taken that cure away. The problem was still there, and it still hurt. I wanted more than anything to numb out and run from all the things I felt I wasn’t good enough at or for. But I didn’t. And here’s what I learned by toughing it out:

No one is judging you as critically as you judge yourself – This one is common sense, but for some reason is so hard to grasp on a gut level. Literally no one is holding you to a higher standard than you do, and no one is judging you to any degree that you judge yourself. Even your worst enemies are nicer in their judgments of you than you are. That’s not great for personal morale. Ease up on yourself, sis. You’re a pretty great person, and right now everyone can see that except you.

No one is perfect, and no one expects you to be – Look around the room. Is anyone you see perfect? Didn’t think so. Now go into a big crowd. How about there? Nope, still no perfect humans. What about that Instagram model who you believe in your core is the epitome of perfection? I guarantee she doesn’t look half as good without all those filters, and even if she does she still f*cks up on a regular basis. Just like every other human on this planet. Just like you. You’re not perfect, but here’s the kicker: You don’t have to be. And, no one is expecting you to be. So stop comparing yourself to an absolutely unrealistic standard. 

You’re already pretty good – When I was finally able to pause the “I’m not good enough” tape long enough to catch a breath and take in my surroundings, I realized that I was actually pretty good already. Sure, I had some bruises and regrets from drinking myself into oblivion for years, but other than that I discovered that I was actually a pretty decent human. Try to freeze your “I’m not good enough” thoughts for a few minutes and give yourself the chance to truly assess yourself at that moment. You’ll find you’re actually just fine and, compared to most people, you’re better than fine.

The life you’ve always wanted is right beyond the “I’m not good enough”s – I had lived by this mantra for so long that I didn’t realize there was another way of existing. But there is, and it’s so freaking awesome.

No feeling lasts forever, and most don’t last a day – This is true for many feelings but it’s especially true for fear. The more you sit with your fear and embrace it, the faster it goes away. But, if you deny it and drown it out with alcohol, the longer it lingers.

Dear You: You’re Not Alone

Hi, friends! My name is Brittany and I recently created this lil’ ole’ blog to have a place to share my experience, strength, and hope with anyone who needs it. As an undeniable alcoholic (I choose to use that term but you absolutely don’t have to), I’ve spent a lot of years fighting my truth followed by accepting my truth followed by embracing my truth. While I am absolutely not an expert on alcoholism or an alcoholic guru or anything of that nature, I am a real human being who has been through hell and back in terms of alcohol and other addictions. I think that’s as good a qualification as any to start a blog, amirite?

Before I go any further, I want to share with you a little about me and how I got here. Our stories are our power, and I want to give you some of my power and hope.

I started drinking when I was 14. It wasn’t immediately apparent to me or others that there was a problem, but looking back the signs were definitely there. Drinking myself into blackouts, driving drunk, doing things I regretted on a regular basis – this all started at a pretty young age. But I’m a pretty good girl and was decent in every other respect, so no one thought anything of it. I went off to a good college with a full scholarship and enjoyed a year and a half of pretty average college experiences. This was great for my morale and temporarily squashed any questions as to whether I could be a problem drinker. After all, when everyone else is falling down drunk alongside you, that means it’s not a problem, right?

Unfortunately, I was soon introduced to Adderall and went down a two-year path of extreme Adderall abuse and addiction that quickly and very efficiently wrecked my world. When your alcoholic boyfriend who is rarely sober notices you’re taking too much Adderall, that’s a good sign you have a problem and aren’t great at hiding it. During the Adderall Years, I drank daily (gotta come down somehow), partied regularly, and barely managed to keep my shit together enough to avoid getting asked uncomfortable questions. This was great for a while, but I’m one of those people who struggle to ignore inner turmoil, and this is ultimately what has saved my life time and again. When I couldn’t bear the personal and emotional pain of Adderall addiction, I begged my parents to ship me off to rehab for a 30-day reality check.

I was 21 when I went into rehab, so I’m sure you can imagine the combination of crippling ignorance and obnoxious entitlement I had coursing through my veins. I was vehemently sure I was not an alcoholic and that Adderall (and other uppers) were my problem. I was also pretty positive I could deal with my issues on my own and didn’t need the help I had quite literally begged for just a few days earlier. Millenials, man. Always ungrateful.

After a whole lot of bitching and moaning and the successful completion of a 32-day rehab stay, I managed to reclaim somewhat of a normal, independent life. It worked out for about three months and then I started drinking. Despite “not being an alcoholic, I SWEAR,” I quickly found myself drinking a minimum of a bottle of wine a night, alone. It quickly – let me repeat, quickly – got out of hand. Random hookups, regular blackouts, calling in sick to work, close calls with the cops, broken trust and ruined friendships – this was my daily life. And it sucked. So I drank more to forget how much it sucked. I’m sure you’re familiar with the cycle.

This went on from age 22 to 25. While many people drink for several years or even decades, I did a shit ton of damage in a short amount of time and truly believe I have earned my seat in recovery. Whereas some start off slow, I took off running with a bottle of booze in each hand and didn’t look back. This wasn’t a conscious decision but rather a crippling need to fill the holes that hollowed my insides when sober. Please know: I didn’t choose to be a raging alcoholic.

Somehow, I stumbled upon an amazing man who promptly informed me that I needed to get my shit together or I could kiss our relationship goodbye. I thought that was cute and kept drinking. Until one day I woke up, having drunk our $500 anniversary champagne (warm, I might add), with a terrible hangover and a genuinely confused husband. He looked at me with bewilderment and asked, “why would you drink this champagne?” And I honestly had no answer. I had no idea why I drank it, just like I had no idea why I chugged mini-bottles of wine when no one was looking or hid wine throughout my apartment or lied about how much I drank or drank and drove or any of the things I did in relation to alcohol. I didn’t know. I was dumbstruck. And I was broken.

That day is the day I decided to get sober. And I’ve spent every day since then doing my best to become the person I want to be: A sober, dignified woman.