Getting sober and getting on with it
February 18, 2012 8:58 AM Subscribe
Getting sober and/or working towards your dreams: before, after or simultaneously?
posted by anonymous to human relations (20 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
This is a question about achieving and prioritizing goals and dreams – when one of them is to get sober. (Yes I am in therapy but would appreciate a non-therapeutic perspective too. Not sure if this should go in Human Relations, Travel or Health category by the way!)
I have recently ended an unhappy 5 year live-in relationship. As I have been preparing, procrastinating and working up the courage to do so for a long time, I am not grief-stricken but rather feel a sense of freedom, hope and possibility. I have also changed jobs twice in the past six months and moved house 3 times since September. So there has been a lot of change in my life in the past 6 months - making me realise, strangely enough, that I crave even more change.
What I REALLY want to do more than anything in the next few years is to see more of the world, to travel in a meaningful and engaged way (as opposed to just partying from hostel to hostel, which I have done previously), and to make a new life in a different city from the one in which I grew up. Everything is so familiar, easy and comfortable here, and I am in a bit of a rut.
What complicates my hopes of moving on is – I think – my drinking. As a 28yo female, I have been a heavy drinker for 10 years or so and have made many attempts to get sober, some of which last for months in which everything improves, only to start the cycle again. I am still quite functional but feel as though it's really holding me back.
For example I have identified several great overseas volunteer jobs or internships that I would love to apply for, but am procrastinating massively – I get scared that I won’t be strong enough to cope right now; or able to trust myself in a foreign country, getting into trouble without the support network that helps me avoid the consequences of my drinking here in my home town. I moved to a big city for 18 months previously when I was 22, which I loved and was so exciting, but was also one of the worst times for drinking, drug use and dangerous behavior. I would like to think I have learned from these mistakes but I also know that when I’m drunk, my judgment flies out the window.
Not to mention I am blowing loads of cash on drinking and despite the fact I am lucky enough to have very minimal living expenses right now, have not saved anything and have even gotten into a small amount of debt.
So I am wondering whether I should try and postpone my dreams of moving and travelling until I have managed to stay sober for 6 months at least. But what if I fail to do that? Maybe it will actually help me to get sober to be in a new place with new challenges? This is exactly the sort of procrastination and self-bargaining that tempts me to drink even more out of boredom and frustration – the lack of adventure, the feeling that I’m not really going anywhere, and that life and the world is out there waiting for me to experience it and I just keep postponing cause I'm always drunk or hungover. I wonder if I’m just using the drinking as a sort of excuse not to put the effort into saving up, making plans, and launching myself into the unknown.
I have spent some time in AA , but more than anything want to believe in my own sense of agency and my ability to improve my life, that I can get better and am not destined to a life of meetings and obsessing about drinking (please do not take offence, this is just my personal opinion). I can’t help feeling that getting sober means somehow putting my life on hold. But maybe it’s not really going anywhere at the moment anyway.
Please, MeFites, can you give me a reality check and help to organize all these competing things in my head?
1) What should I focus on first, and for how long?
2) How can I work towards my dreams of adventure & exploring new horizons, without getting obsessed and disheartened by the day-to-day effort to stay sober?
I am so confused and just want some clarity about my goals and direction in life. I would be grateful to hear your experiences with similar situations.