Making your first Friday nights sober is no joke. It involves feeling a lot of suffering of not being able to drink. I remember my first Friday nights dry, and it was hell. I would smoke a lot of cigarettes (I’m a non-smoker) and just drive in my car around being jealous of all the people in the bars.
So why were Friday nights so hard at the beginning?
- While drinking, I always thought that Friday is a special day. So I must blow off the steam celebrating, in reality, poisoning my body. Not being able to do that was a big part of hurt during first Fridays sober. THINKING FRIDAY IS SPECIAL
- I have formed an unbreakable habit with alcohol and Fridays was the day when I would get senselessly drunk to the point of blackouts. HABIT
- I did not know how to slow down after the work week especially if I worked more than 40 hours. It’s the weekend so now what?
- I did not have the skills to deal with excitement and rush while being sober. We all know that last hour of work in the workplace. Everyone gets super excited and euphoric that work is done for the week. There are no escaping hyper conversations about the weekend and all the Friday night partying with your coworkers. It would trigger the shit out of me. I would want to cry. Why am I so cursed for having a drinking problem?
- OBSESSION. Alcoholics Anonymous nails it right by saying that we are obsessed about drinking. I mean what the fuck can you expect when you suddenly stop drinking on Fridays? It is like a shock to the whole system. Psychological withdrawal starts happening, and huge cravings appear. It is almost that I have to drink just to satisfy my obsession about drinking.
- Inability to imagine being sober. It is like a mental block that makes all the attempts to be sober on Friday so challenging. I would keep arguing with myself that it is not me. I always drink on Fridays.
SOLUTION: face the painFacing your pain is the most unpopular solution that works. Truth to be told is that you will have Friday nights full of cravings and urges that will make you go crazy. The biggest reason what always prevented me to quitting drinking sooner was being scared of feeling pain.
I always thought that it is not okay to be in psychological pain. We, humans, were not meant to be in pain, only pleasure but isn’t that what got me into the whole mess of alcoholism? Cheap instant fix that caused me even greater agony.
Alcohol withdrawals, headaches, lost jobs, declining health, fucking up my digestion system, probably shortening my life, DUI, wasted money, being a danger to other people, hurting the people I love, anxiety, shame and this list can go on.
Separating yourself from the thoughts in your head (mindfulness approach)
My biggest breakthrough dealing with my Friday night cravings happened when I allowed them to happen without fighting (Did you ever hear of surrendering to your addiction?) and felt them all the way without taking the physical action to get drunk. Not taking that action started sealing the deal for me.
My rational half of the brain realized that even though the sirens loudly and annoyingly encouraging me to get wasted my firm decision not to can overwrite them. The first time is always the most challenging, but it is possible.
Can we break bad habits by being more curious about them? Psychiatrist Judson Brewer studies the relationship between mindfulness and addiction — from smoking to overeating to all those other things we do even though we know they’re bad for us.
I found this video to be very helpful, so I decided to share it with you. He explains how using and practicing mindfulness, we can help ourselves beat and deal with our addictions.
How to meditate to achieve mindfulness
Mindfulness meditation is practiced sitting with eyes closed, cross-legged on a cushion, or on a chair, with the back straight. Attention is focused on the movement of the abdomen while breathing in and out, or on the awareness of the breath as it goes in and out the nostrils. If one becomes distracted from the breath, one passively notices one’s mind has wandered, but in an accepting, non-judgmental way and one returns to focusing on breathing. A famous exercise, introduced by Kabat-Zinn in his MBSR-program, is the mindful tasting of a raisin, in which a raisin is simply tasted and eaten mindfully.
Meditators start with short periods of 10 minutes or so of meditation practice per day. As one practice regularly, it becomes easier to keep the attention focused on breathing. Eventually, awareness of the breath can be extended into awareness of thoughts, feelings, and actions.
I personally practice it so that I can get in touch with myself and my feelings, and be aware of what’s going on with me. That way it is much easier to deal with myself and not end up in the liquor store without knowing how I got there….
Research on the neural perspective of how mindfulness meditation works suggest that it exerts its effects in components of attention regulation, body awareness, and emotional regulation. When considering aspects such as a sense of responsibility, authenticity, compassion, self-acceptance and character, studies have shown that mindfulness meditation contributes to a more coherent and healthy sense of self and identity. Neuroimaging techniques suggest that mindfulness practices such as mindfulness meditation are associated with “changes in the anterior cingulate cortex, insula, temporo-parietal junction, fronto-limbic network and default mode network structures. It has been suggested that the default mode network of the brain can be used as a potential biomarker for monitoring the therapeutic benefits of meditation.”
Write a sober gratitude list
Alcohol cravings usually occur due to mental imbalance. Taking your time to write a gratitude(or opposite) list of being sober/drunk will help you shift your mind from I want to drink to why I don’t want to. This is mine that I wrote during my first sober Friday nights after leaving rehab. It helped me tremendously!
Why shouldn’t I pick up my first drink?
1. Because I won’t stop with one. One means I am all the way in.
2. As soon as I am done, I will feel guilty and ashamed as fuck
3. Drinking won’t solve anything
4. I will just go backward in the journey of my sobriety
5. I will be disappointed in myself and lose all the pride of being sober
6. I will disappoint others
7. When drunk I will have to deal with intense feelings
8. I want to look good in the eyes of the sober community
9. I will vomit, become sick and might go to the hospital
10. I am going to have to face negative consequences
11. In a logical sense there is no escaping if eventually, you have to go back, by drinking I won’t avoid anything, just make things worst for myself.
12. I will be just another pathetic alky
13. My self-worth will go down
14. All my efforts that I put into staying sober won’t mean anything anymore, just plain waste of time
15. I am going to have to reset my sobriety date
16. I don’t want to repeat the process of becoming sober again
17. I don’t want to lose the hope that being sober is possible and that I can be sober
18. I don’t want to give up control and my rights
19. I don’t want to look, feel and be weak
20. I don’t want to be alcohols little bitch
21. Fuck alcohol, being obsessed with it and giving all my time to it
22. Being drunk probably won’t feel as good as I think
Do you feel daring and adventurous? Use caution…
I was really frustrated one Friday, I guess writing the reasons down why I shouldn’t pick up my first drink really helped me not to mess up… I have documented what happened to me that Friday night. It was a huge learning experience for me.
So I went to late 9 pm alcoholics anonymous meeting just so I can bring myself down from frustration to humility, honesty and become humble. I find it really helps me to stay out of trouble and deal with my cravings. Those are the feelings and state of mind that I always trying to keep myself, in….but I’m, not always able to. It’s a roller coaster and there will be days where my brain just doesn’t want to be content no matter how much I try.
AA meetings have been really helpful in that way, another way to tell me “you can’t drink no matter what”. I must admit my level of frustration that night was pretty high and I planned on going to another meeting right after this one, the super late one at 11:59 pm. That’s what led me to go to the bar.
I drive there. It took me about half an hour, all ready for it. GPS shows me it’s a fucking pizza place. Ok? I read aa meeting directory and it says something like go behind the building and dot dot dot, the rest of the sentence is cut off. Man, this is gonna be fucking creepy walking around building in the middle of the night. Whatever, I really needed one more meeting so I am willing to do anything. I get out and start walking, I just now realize why the fuck did I get out my car instead of driving around? Anyways I see this one car parked and a girl waiting in it, I don’t know I just felt super creepy so I am like wtf I am going back to my car, fuck it… I get to my car and almost drive away but I really need this meeting. Finally, after the battle with myself, I just drive around the building duh? wasn’t that hard.
Long story short I didn’t get my meeting. It was only me and this girl. Yes, it was little uncomfortable, we talked a bit and, she had the same problem like me finding my age group. It seems like all alcoholic anonymous meetings are usually only older people. It’s nothing wrong with that it’s just I am coming out from 12 years isolation and I really want to surround myself with my age people so I can make some friends. So I told her about the meeting I went to right before this one, that’s the only my age group meeting that I found so far. She was happy about it. Glad I could help someone.
It didn’t help my frustration though, I was frustrated even more.
This thing has been lately going on with me where all I can hear is how we are powerless over our addiction and how it controls us. This girl really triggered this powerlessness in me by saying “Just don’t go to liquor store tonight” with this voice that sounds like a challenge and in all like relapsy tone. So I’m thinking: fuck you, I am not gonna go to the liquor store but I am going to the bar. I think this was a long time coming. I needed to do this so I can feel that I don’t have to be scared of being around booze and that I am not powerless over taking that first drink. I am in the fucking power of not drinking. I have all control in the world to stay sober. It’s a scary thing to say because that means the only person I can blame if I relapse is me. No circumstances, things or people can make me relapse, only me.
So I learned a few things while at the bar.
- My feelings weren’t valid when I drank. They were there, they were intensive but I was under influence of alcohol.
- No one cared what I had to say and if they did it didn’t matter. I was just another drunk
- No one cared about me or had my best interest. I find this very true when I go to alcohol anonymous or smart meetings where I actually feel the connection and care among the members.
I remember that I felt very relieved that night after leaving. After all, that was the bar where I drank last time, right before things unraveled so bad for me that I ended up in the hospital and rehab. I was different this time. When I was offered to do shots I was able to say NO. Now I have this backup, all these strangers in the meetings that I go to who genuinely care and have my best interest in mind. I guess in the back of my mind I thought I will just get defeated by alcohol again but it didn’t happen…
Things that will sabotage your attempt to stay sober
- Spending time with wrong people
- Expecting to be happy
- Thinking and overthinking things
- Complaining and feeling sorry for yourself
- Holding old and new grudges
- Letting others to bring you down to their level
- Being too hopeful
- Blaming others for your mistakes
- Focusing on what you don’t want to happen
- Taking your sobriety for granted
- Having secret reservations of drinking in the future
- Running from your problems
- Not taking care of yourself
- Not having support and being too confident
- Letting your feelings control you
- Being someone you are not
- Holding on to the past
- Trying to be perfect