The false hope that screwed me every time

Alcohol ruins everything, but that doesn’t mean sobriety will fix everything.

Every time I set myself to the task of sobering up I did it with expectations. Expectations that things would get better, and that certain things would become easier if only I would just quit drinking.

Now, that was true in many ways. For example, if you stop drinking, you are probably going to be more well-rested. You aren’t going to be puking every morning, and dragging into work feeling like death all the time. So at least in that respect, my expectation was correct and I was right to look forward to it and latch onto it as a motivation to quit drinking.

Where I went wrong was in telling myself that so many of my other problems would also dissolve once I sobered up. For example, I was wrong in telling myself that my job would become more tolerable if I stopped going in sick from booze and exhaustion. I was wrong because my job sucked. I hated it, and I wasn’t going to start being “fulfilled” by a bullshit job just because I was sober.

In fact, when you work a bullshit job, sobering up might actually make it harder. Being hungover and maybe even still a bit drunk at work keeps you from reflecting, it fogs the mind, and in a way it numbs you from an awareness of the vacuity of the life you may be living. For me, being hungover was part of my anesthesia.

You can imagine, then, why I say it is a bad idea to tell yourself everything is going to be better when you are sober. While I was more rested at work, I was also more aware of how much I hated some of my customers, how stultifying my tasks were, and how much I’d rather be at home writing.

When my boss chewed me out — right or wrong — it hurt more because I was able to feel it in full consciousness.

The point is, get sober but don’t lie to yourself along the way. Life can be hell. Your job can be hell. Life as an objective and challenging reality will, with time and practice, get easier if you accept it and work at it. But it won’t get easier just because you stop drinking. In some ways it might get harder. It’s still worth it, because being a fully conscious, truly “human” being is what life is all about, but it is hard.

Sobriety is the hard road — choose it with open eyes and you’ll succeed. Choose it based on self-deception and false hopes and you will wind up back in the bottle, lower than when you started.

This post originally appeared at the author’s blog DanielDoesntDrink.