“If we want to have a fighting chance at changing everything for the better, it’s important we always remember to take care of one another. It’s important that we keep showing up, offering solutions, and simply keep trying.”
– Corey Wheeland, Blessed, Beautiful Now: How I Embraced The Present By Celebrating My Past And Learned to Love Life Again
I remember way back when I was attempting my first alcohol-free stints–unsuccessful stints that they turned out to be–and how the minute I broke my commitment to not drink, I grabbed onto that as an excuse to go ahead and drink as much as I wanted. I probably realized I could jump back on the abstinent train the next day and that my disappointment wouldn’t have been near as severe, but I never even considered that.
I’d proven to myself, yet again, how weak I was.
I might as well go ahead and drink.
Yep, that’s what I told myself time and again. And, yes, I failed time and again.
Maybe each of those attempts were ill-fated to begin with, maybe I subconsciously sabotaged them because I knew if, or more aptly, when I failed, I’d set myself free from my commitment and I could drink to my content.
I had plenty of support for my not getting back on the abstinence train the next day, a pretty big contingency of the people I was “traveling” with asserted, “The purpose of doing an alcohol free stint is to discover whether you can go the whole distance, it’s not to see whether you can make the distance with some unplanned stops along the way.” And, of course, I also employed this train of thought to reinforce my own desire to abandon the commitment I had made to myself.
I look back now and wonder, what would have happened if I’d just climbed back aboard the next day? Let me tell you what I think would have happened.
I would have felt a trainload of regret and shame the day after my unplanned stop but much of that regret and shame would have disappeared immediately when I climbed back on that train. I would have discovered how damn hard it was to step off the “might as well give up and drink the rest of the month” platform onto that train. Once I was back onboard, I would have decide that I deserved just as much self-admiration for reclaiming my commitment as I would have if I’d completed the whole trip without a stop. I would have reached the destination with my travel companions but with a different lesson learned and a different awareness of what I was capable of. Not a lesser or greater capability, a different capability.
What about my next trip on the abstinence train? If I forgave myself my short departure from my commitment, wouldn’t I be giving myself permission to make a departure from future commitments? Wasn’t I in fact telling the world that it’s OK to give less than 100%? That I deserved the same accolades as those who made the whole trip without jumping off the train?
I don’t know the answers to those questions because I never climbed back on that train, but I can tell you this, not finishing the trip at all sure as hell didn’t make me any further or better equipped for future trips. Instead, not finishing at all increased my self-doubt on future trips. Not finishing at all didn’t provide the redemption I needed from myself. Not finishing at all made me feel like a quitter and that feeling lingered a long time, a lot longer than my regret for taking a short break would have.
If you’ve managed to get through the last 14 days without drinking, you deserve admiration and applause for honoring your commitment. If you jumped off the train for a day or two but jumped back on, you deserve admiration and applause for having the strength to pull yourself back up onto the train. If you jump off in the next two weeks, know that you’re welcome to jump back on anytime. If you jumped off and are on the platform watching the train go by without you, wishing you were back on board, reach out a hand, we’ll pull you back aboard.
Post Submitted by: Train Jumper