You put down the drink, and you wait. What you’re waiting for, of course, is the marching band you’re sure is going to come parading down the street at any minute, waving flags and cheering cheers because you quit drinking.
Quitting drinking may be the biggest single thing you’ve ever done in your life, so it only makes sense that a marching band and everyone else will be on hand and eager to help you celebrate.
But they’re not. Thinking that everyone will be overjoyed you quit drinking is a recovery myth. Some folks will be happy, sure. But others may be hesitant to pat you on the back. Still others may be downright upset. What gives?
The Hesitant People
Those that are hesitant to congratulate you may be those who have heard it all before:
- I’ll quit tomorrow.
- I’ll quit next week.
- I’ll quit when I get a new dog.
- I’ll quit when I’m hired. I’ll quit when I’m fired. I’ll quit when the cows come home.
People with drinking problems, especially those who know they have drinking problems, are apt to make promises to quit that never pan out. They may honestly want to quit but, much to their horror, realize they honestly cannot.
The end result is a promise to quit that is once again broken, leaving all those who heard the promise shaking their heads in dismay. The hesitant people may not jump for joy to congratulate you, but not necessarily because they don’t love the idea of you giving up booze. They may simply not want to get their hopes up just to see them dashed by the end of the day when you have a beer in your hand once again.
The hesitant people may move into the category of overjoyed people once they see you working at your recovery and making changes that help ensure the recovery will stick.
The Upset People
The upset people are likely to stay upset. For one reason or another, they don’t like the idea of you quitting drinking, even if they pretend to be happy for you. This category may contain your (former) drinking buddies.
Why would drinking buddies be upset that you quit drinking? For starters, they lost a drinking buddy. But that’s not the only reason. Drinking buddies could be upset when their hard-drinking pal quits drinking because the hard-drinking pal:
- Always bought rounds of drinks after a beer or nine
- Loaned them money
- Listened to their baloney
- Drank more than they did, making them feel they “weren’t that bad”
- Acted more obnoxious than they did, making them feel they “weren’t that bad”
- Drank as much as they did, which now indicates they, too, may have a problem
Drinking buddies may come around, or they may not. In the worst case scenario they may shun you, or try to entice you to come out drinking. In the best case scenario, those with drinking problems may end up in recovery, too, and you can still be buddies over coffee or soda.
Whatever the case, your goal in recovery is not to make other people happy. It’s to make yourself happy, living a life without being a slave to that godawful master called alcohol. Although it would have also been awfully nice to have that marching band come down the street.
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