The Same Story Over & Over &…

28 Dec

Quote-Art-of-StoryTelling

One of the things that helped me submerge myself in recovery was the power of story. As a lifelong bookworm and someone who has made storytelling into a career, I’m endlessly fascinated by the common threads that run through the stories we tell.

In recovery and reading about recovery, I’ve been overwhelmed by the same story points that occur again and again in our narratives about drinking. I wrote about it here, some time ago. And again, today I come back to that thought: the stories are different but the ingredients are the same.

Someone very close to me recently confided in me that they were calling time on their drinking. We’d always drunk together and she was a bigger party animal than I ever was. When I sat her down a few months ago to tell her the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about my drinking, she didn’t appear to take it in. She listened, and made noises of shock and sympathy, but something didn’t seem to click. I had then niggling feeling that this was because it might be shining a light upon her own drinking, but we’ve never spoken of it again and she’s never expressed worry about the way she drinks. Until now. Hearing my story had set off alarm bells for her and as we talked, she expressed key feelings and experiences she had an they were the same things we hear over and over in stories of problematic drinking: the time it wastes, the niggling feeling that you’re wasting your life drunk or hungover, the shame, the reliance upon it to socialise, the gradual creep of needing it more and more and perhaps most importantly, the knowledge that the problem has been there for longer than we would like to admit.

One of the things that they tell you to do when you come into AA is “listen for the similarities not the differences” when taking in the stories of others. Time and time again in those rooms I’m hit by how uncannily similar the key elements of drinking problematically are. All this seems bleeding obvious when I put it on paper, but it wasn’t to me until I started actively seeking the similarities that I realised I might have a ‘proper’ problem.

One of the things I feel more and more strongly about as my sober time increases is being more honest about why I’ve stopped drinking. Stigma breeds stigma, and without speaking out with at least a version of the truth I feel like I’ll be contributing to the issue of drinking problems being shrouded in some sort of secrecy. So I’ve been experimenting with the story I tell. Since I posted this, I’ve been getting a little bolder with what I say to people about why I stopped drinking. If they’re close to me, I tell them a true-ish version of the story: drinking was consistently making me feel terrible, and I hated doing it, but bloody loved it at the same time. It came to a head when it really was making me feel terrible and I had to weigh things up;  it emerged that the only option for me was to stop, because drinking was taking away too much. It was hard to stop but I have, and I’ve never been happier.

Depending on their reaction, I will share more, telling some people (most of) the whole version. Now that I actually feel a bit more secure in my sobriety I want to demonstrate that there is a different way of living: for some of my friends I don’t think they can envisage having a ‘fun’ life without booze. It may achieve nothing, but given the impact that other people’s stories have had on me, I’d like to start sharing mine more. Slowly and sensibly, but share I will.

And with every comment we write, post we share and conversation we have about being sober, we’re helping to spread the sober word. May that message disseminate far and wide 🙂

Happy Sunday.

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20 Responses to “The Same Story Over & Over &…”

  1. merrimj1122Mar December 28, 2014 at 10:56 pm #

    Thanks for this, yes, Happy Sunday to you too!

  2. ainsobriety December 28, 2014 at 11:25 pm #

    Perfect. I try to be fairly honest with my story as well. I know too many women who drink a lot of wine.

  3. Lilly December 29, 2014 at 2:17 am #

    I love this and I actually think it’s really, really important for people like yourself, who don’t fit the ‘typical’ alcoholic stereotype so many people have, tell their stories. It’s somewhat hypocritical of me to say that with my anonymous blog and worries about attending local meetings etc. But even though I haven’t come as far as you I have found myself being increasingly honest with people – both friends and strangers – about why I’m not drinking. It’s never the whole story but I’ve come a long way from pretending I’m just doing Dry July or on a health kick or whatever. One day I aspire to be more like you and Mrs D – out and proud. Love this post honey and you inspire me to keep trying. (Still sober over here btw 🙂

    • FitFatFood December 29, 2014 at 9:19 am #

      It is important isnt it? The notion of “an alcoholic” is an ongoing source of frustration for me. There seem to be two kinds of people in this world: some who can drink without consequence, and others for whom it becomes problematic. Within that second group there is a large spectrum, but being within that group shouldnt in itself be shameful.

      Well done- how long have you been back to sobriety?

  4. We Admitted We Were Powerless December 29, 2014 at 6:47 am #

    Love how you have different levels of your truth ready to share. It must make you feel stronger in being able to gracefully handle an ever widening variety of situations. Bravo!

  5. lucy2610 December 29, 2014 at 9:23 am #

    I agree FFF and have been feeling more emboldened in what I share as my sober time has progressed. Good for you lovely 🙂 xx

    • FitFatFood December 29, 2014 at 10:18 am #

      You are Ms Bold with your face on your video interviews. I love it!

      • lucy2610 December 29, 2014 at 10:43 am #

        If only I could be more bold with friends and family – none of them know about my sober blog …… that needs to change 🙂

  6. Rachel Black December 29, 2014 at 10:39 am #

    I love this post. I couldn’t agree more with all you say. I too, have become much more honest about the real reasons I quit wine as my sober time increases. I think it is because I am secure enough in it to know I won’t be tempted back (and don’t risk looking daft) and, as with many other things in life when sober, what others think matters less and less to me. If they infer I was an alcoholic that’s up to them. I know who I am.

    Now, can you give some solutions to stop the mindless carbs and sugar munching I continue to do whilst hating the weight I am gaining and ‘wishing’ I could stop it?

    http://www.soberisthenewrachelblack.blogspot.co.uk

  7. primrose December 29, 2014 at 11:16 am #

    great post FFF – and yes concur with the feeling of more able to share with others as I go on. perhaps it is because we have put down that big heavy sack of shame and can be more matter of fact about the whole thing? spread the word indeed! xx

    • FitFatFood December 29, 2014 at 11:42 am #

      Yay! Today feels a great day to be sober with the white powder outside and the crisp air 🙂

  8. soberdancer December 29, 2014 at 4:02 pm #

    Hi.

    I think you are truly inspiring and you write beautifully.

    I have met people who have met you and think you are just as marvellous in real life! (not that blogging isnt real). Primrose, Lucy and Belle think I have similar struggles that you had in your early sobriety (I think we all do!) and it sounds like we have similarly hectic lives in London. They were going to email you for me.

    Without sounding stalky, I would love to make this online thing a bit more real. I got a lot out of Belle’s sober meet up recently (even if I was 3 days sober not 103 like I should have been). Do you ever arrange / are a part of anything like this? I know you’re an AA advocate / member but I’m still undecided. I feel like I need more similar friends to the new me so I’m not always the odd one (out). Cause that feels a bit scary and crap now. (I’m sure I’ll love being the odd one out whne I’m stronger!)

    You have also mentioned a Tuesday running club, I go to running club on Tuesdays, I wonder if its the same one…

    I have no idea if this is good blogging/online ettiquette, blurring into the real meet ups. I’m not that well practiced!!

    Do let me know your thoughts. A

    • FitFatFood December 29, 2014 at 9:03 pm #

      Great to hear from you- i’d love to meet.

      I have your email so I’ll drop you a line 🙂 love, FFF

  9. moretomethanthis December 29, 2014 at 9:01 pm #

    I try to be honest – usually I say something like, I was drinking too much, it wasn’t good for me, so I stopped. The more I say it, the less it bothers me, and I’d be really happy to go into more detail – but it seems to me that other people don’t really want to talk about it, and I wonder if I am embarrassing people by saying even this much. Maybe that is just me being self-conscious and reading to much into it, I don’t know!

  10. Annie December 31, 2014 at 10:47 am #

    Your story continues to help me. Day 2 (for the umpteenth time, and on New Year’s Eve…). Love Annie x

  11. Lisa Neumann December 31, 2014 at 4:07 pm #

    This message is so beautiful. I am not at all surprised to watch you grow into an amazing mentor for others. Just wanted to come over and wish you a blessed New Year and continued success as you journey through life. My love, Lisa

    • FitFatFood December 31, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

      Oh lovely Lisa thank you so much x xx

  12. Allie Holbrook January 1, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    I just wrote about this as well; for some reason, the holiday season brought the topic up a lot for me, with a lot of friends who have known me for twenty years (my entire drinking life!), and so I have found myself getting more and more honest. I said a while back that once I was sure I wasn’t going to drink again (or, rather, sure that I wanted to never drink again) it felt alright to say I was an alcoholic. Because the consequence of that – i.e., that I was barred from alcohol forever – was no longer an issue. Now, the label feels irrelevant. I feel better not drinking; I don’t drink. The end.

    It’s a good feeling, though, knowing that your honesty has helped another person, and it sounds like you’ve done that. I hope you’re rightfully proud.

  13. moon alley January 16, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    just want to say thank you for your posts- this is one i’ve come back to a few times and excerpted in my journal. i so relate to you. thank you, thank you

    • FitFatFood January 17, 2015 at 7:02 am #

      Thank you too- that means alot x

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