The devil will, I believe, always be within spitting distance of my mind. I’ll have days when I ponder the notion that perhaps now, after all this time, I could have just one little drink. That sneaky voice, pervasive and persuasive, will once in a while pop up and proposition me with the questions of ‘did you really need to stop for good?’ and ‘how about you simply exercise some alcohol moderation?’ and ‘don’t you know that time heals all?’ I will still, occasionally, feel a tugging on my collar as the demon attempts to lure me back into his den of destruction.
Why can I now resist what I never could during all those drunken years of my past? My sober persistence stems from learning a lesson, accepting the truth and keeping myself firmly on a path that leads in the opposite direction. Being sober and true to myself doesn’t mean that I no longer hear the call – it simply means that now I understand the need to ignore it, and that over time I have gradually developed the tools to silence it.
Not drinking alcohol for two years does not eradicate the inability to drink ‘sensibly.’ Avoiding booze for a sufficient length of time does not magically dissolve the desire to consume the whole bottle just as soon as you pop the cork and swallow your first mouthful. But what time without alcohol does provide is enough self-awareness to allow you to recognise your weak spots, your triggers and your instincts.
Living alcohol-free allows you to develop the knowledge that your brain operates on two levels; this is commonly referred to as being ruled by your head or your heart, or having your angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Given enough time without alcohol sullying your ability to think clearly, it becomes second nature to spot which is the ‘bad brain’ talking and which is you.
A little like being a child and having a naughty friend who coerces you into causing trouble with them, and a good, loyal friend who respects you and regards your feelings above their own, understanding which of your two brains to listen to means arriving at the realisation of what’s right for you, and what works best in your happy life.
So when you hear that little voice whispering sweet nothings in your ear and attempting to draw you back to where you ran so desperately from once upon a time, try and regard it as the bad friend – turn the other cheek and seek out what’s right. YOU will thank you for your strength in the morning.