As much as we may love a person, thing or habit, we are sometimes presented with the harsh reality that it has become bad for our health, happiness and success. But letting go of something we’ve held dear for so long is just flat-out hard – especially when it’s become ingrained in our identity.
In October of 2017, I had to face a harsh reality of my own head-on. I had spent my fair share of time in denial and resistance, and I eventually reached the point where I could no longer ignore or evade the issue. I had to look it dead in the eye and make the most difficult break-up decision of my life.
That decision was to break up with alcohol.
While I drank “normally” for a decade, I spent almost 2 years in a spiral of progressively-worse alcohol addiction. I drank in secret. I drank to escape. I drank to forget. I drank to numb. By last October, it was making me so sick physically, mentally and spiritually that I was deep in the throes of depression and anxiety. I was stuck in a hole of obsession with my next drink, and it was an all-consuming hole that made me feel hopeless, sad and intensely afraid of what was going to become of me. After a lifetime of being driven, optimistic and hopeful, my drinking robbed me of those traits and presented me with the first situation I had ever encountered over which I had zero power.
When I first made the decision to get sober and enter the world of recovery, I wrote a goodbye letter to alcohol. In that letter, I recounted the history of my relationship with alcohol – how it started, the happy feelings it gave me, the subtle progression I couldn’t see at the time and the desperation and pain it left me with near the end of our relationship. Reflecting on the full history provided me with a real, honest picture of just how bad things had become, and that motivated me even more to accept that I didn’t have a normal relationship with alcohol and to say a confident, decisive “Boy bye!” to drinking.
I’ve since learned so much more about recovery and my own inner traits and desires, and I’ve grown to love and care for myself. My physical, mental and spiritual health are stronger than ever, and I can honestly say that I walk in peace, contentment and joy in recovery and through my relationship with God. I never had that when alcohol blinded me to everything but my destructive obsession.
It all started, though, with that goodbye letter – reflecting on how I reached that point and re-evaluating how I
wanted needed my life to look going forward. There’s something powerful about personifying what you need to walk away from, because it sheds light on the relationship you’ve had with it and puts into words how you want to move forward without it.
Let me warn you: It isn’t easy. For inanimate objects, there isn’t an equivalent for deleting its number from your phone! I battled hard with sticking to my decision whenever I had to face my emotions without alcohol; it had become my number one coping mechanism, and learning how to face life on life’s terms and turn instead to a true source of comfort was painful. It pains me to admit that it took a failed suicide attempt for me to reach a point of enough desperation for me to commit wholeheartedly to breaking up with alcohol for good.
The process of becoming whole again takes diligence and hard work, but it’s the kind of work that offers such sweet reward by breaking up with whatever is holding you back and beginning to live a life that is genuine, out in the open and in concert with the person you’re meant to be. Writing a goodbye letter opens the door to complete, total honesty with the person or thing to which you’re writing, which is especially beneficial because it creates a forum that allows you to be honest with your own self.
What is holding you back? What do you want the 2.0 version of your life to look like? Try saying it in the form of a goodbye letter, and see how it empowers you with the courage and confidence to take action!