If you’ve read other posts in this series (I am updating them one at a time) you’ll know that I posted this question on a bunch of sober forums:
“What stops you from quitting alcohol even though you want to? Or what stopped you in the past?”
As always, the wonderful sober community rushed to help! Not very surprisingly, the word addiction was hardly mentioned. Ex-drinkers know all too well that physical dependency (if you experience it) forms only a small part of the complicated relationship with alcohol. Emotional attachment is the real bastard to beat!
You can see the whole list here or just work through them in order. Here’s number 1: FOMO!
The FOMO Is Real
FOMO is strong! For me, it was quite simply the fear of life without alcohol. The thought of never drinking again seemed utterly impossible. Even if I could imagine forgoing my nightly drink (and I couldn’t) how was I going to get through Christmas, New Year’s Eve, my birthday, the Queen’s birthday!? (I actually celebrated the Queen’s Birthday a few times. Any excuse, right?)
How could I commit to a life that would never EVER feature alcohol again? In a world where everyone drinks, how could I commit to a world without? Everywhere I looked, there was FOMO.
How’s Your HOT Chart?
A friend recently asked me if I missed the extreme highs of getting drunk. Here’s how I see it. If you spread your life out in a line graph measuring happiness over time (HOT) – you’d see spikes of pleasure, lows of sadness and everything in-between.
NOTE: I think I just came up with this HOT idea in my own little brain but I may be wrong. Whatever.
How would your graph look? When I was a heavy drinker, mine was mostly low with the occasional massive spike. The orange line is the drinking line and it’s a real roller coaster of emotions, mostly down.
But the blue non-drinking line is much friendlier. Without alcohol in my life the graph is smooth and consistent. The spikes aren’t so crazy sharp but the lows are hardly there at all. Yes, I have bad days and sometimes something amazing happens that will feel a bit like being drunk on life, but mostly I have consistent happiness. So, do I miss drunk highs? Nope.
How About JOMO!?
Turns out that FOMO has a much lovelier sister called JOMO – Joy Of Missing Out.
Yes! Missing out! Staying at home, drinking a luxurious hot chocolate, wearing new pyjamas, snuggling up in fresh bed sheets and watching one of your favourite films. It’s a beautiful thing!
I used to think that I loved being surrounded by people: up all night, life and soul. Turns out, I loved getting drunk. The rest, not so much.
We’re Not All Natural Extroverts
Don’t get me wrong, I do love people and I am still very sociable, but I do not miss shouting over loud music, paying through the nose for cocktails and trying to get home in the rain.
When I do go out with friends, I still love to dance and laugh and have a great time but then, when I have had enough and the drinkers have started repeating the same old stories, I go home. Normally around midnight, when I am very much ready for my bed.
When I see my friends now I usually suggest lunch so we can chat, eat, treat ourselves and spend quality time together. Socialising sober is so much easier than you fear. Trust me!
So if FOMO is stopping you from quitting alcohol then think about your HOT graph and some fresh pyjamas. Does it for me!