My son has me under his thumb. It was always my daughter before. Funny thing about boys is how much they emulate their daddy. I love coffee, so he loved coffee. I would have a pint in the evening and so would he (okay, he’d have a sip). He was three. It was funny. Here’s why I quit drinking.
But I noticed something scary. He wanted another sip and another and another. Alcoholism runs rampant in my family and I could already tell he had the sickness. My grandfather actually has the second longest living sobriety date of 54 years in the U.S. It was confirmed at the national convention.
When I was younger, I wasn’t an alcoholic. I mean I only fell off of a cliff and was involved in a drunk driving accident during college in the same year. Some people said I was lucky, some said I was very unlucky. Some said I was meant for much more in life. The tough part was that it had cost me playing baseball in college. I could have hurt someone else, and I never wanted that, but I didn’t think about those things.
After those mistakes, I had to attend all the alcohol classes, AA meetings, perform 100 hours of community service, and meet regularly with a probation officer. The probation officer would give me a breathalyzer every time I would show up. I always wondered, “Who in the hell would show up drunk when they had to give a breathalyzer?” She said, “You’d be shocked.” I had a sheet of paper that needed to be signed to confirm my attendance at all of the AA meetings. I learned, “Hey this is anonymous”! I just had people at dorms sign the sheet instead of going to the meetings. I remembered in those meetings thinking that these people were messed up, I wasn’t that bad. I focused on the differences between us, rather than the similarities.
Even after all of that for many years, I still drank. I just managed my drinking. I never liked liquor, I was a 2 or 3 pint man, well, most of the time. I simply loved having fun and drinking beer was just a part of it. Games, concerts, parties, BBQ’s, at the beach, after golf, during golf, at dinner, with friends, at the movies, hanging out, writing, chess, after runs, were all great times to have a cold one.
After my kids were born, I actually started to look forward to a craft pint in the evenings to unwind. It occupied my mind about wanting a beer.
I admired people who didn’t drink. People that had issues with drinking and no longer drank. I always thought that those who never drank were the lucky one’s. I actually wanted to be the person who didn’t need to have a drink. That is my beautiful wife, take or leave it, no problem.
I’m an all or nothing guy. If I have one, I’m gonna have two. A saying that resonated with me “One is too many and 10 is never enough.” The only path for me was not having one. That’s why I quit drinking. It’s tough because it still looks appealing, but it forces me to remember my why, my gratitude list, my role as a father, and the benefits. That’s mental toughness. For example, we went to a wedding last week and the ride home with my kids was incredible, we blasted the music and sang aloud. Before quitting, I wouldn’t have driven home.
There is a saying that if you want “To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.” I know my goals and I have never once written down drinking as part of the plan. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, It took me a long time to realize that sacrificing short-term gratification for long-term and big picture satisfaction is best for me. And this is just one part of my life.
I even became fearful writing this and thought, “what-if” I go out tonight and drink? Wouldn’t I be a fraud and a failure? Just in case I mess up, maybe its best not to write this post. We are all going to mess up, but it’s not about the setback, it’s about the comeback. When we mess up, we just start over, but I’m going to try to not let fear win. Taking things one day, one moment, at a time is what it takes for success in anything.
Dr. Rob Bell is a Sport Psychology Coach. His company DRB & associates is based in Indianapolis. Some clients have included: University of Notre Dame, Marriott, and Walgreens. Check out the most recent book on Mental Toughness- Don’t Should on Your Kid: Build Their Mental Toughness