Discover more from Exploring Sobriety
My Biggest Lie: "I'll Quit Drinking Tomorrow"
This is the excuse that postponed my sobriety for years.
Let me give you a peek into my daily routine as an alcoholic. At the height of my addiction, I was a law school student, and despite drinking every single day, I managed to keep my habit relegated to the evenings.
I’d wake up in the morning, and my day would start pretty much the same as the days of all of my fellow students. I’d go through a typical morning routine of showering, eating breakfast, and getting dressed.
Normally I wasn’t even thinking about alcohol when I first woke up. If it did cross my mind, it wasn’t because I was craving it. Instead, it was because I was cringing with embarrassment as I remembered the night before. During the first hours of each day, I often swore to myself that I’d never touch alcohol again.
I was never particularly well-rested or energetic in the mornings, but I wasn’t exactly waking up with a head-pounding hangover each day either. Instead, I found myself somewhere in the middle. The best word I can come up with to describe my mental and physical state in those days is “drained.”
After getting ready, I’d head out to school. A cloud of exhaustion hovered over me throughout my morning classes, but by the afternoon I had normally pulled myself together. For those few hours between lunch and evening, I operated at my best.
Even with my alcoholism, I was doing well in law school. I was going to one of the top schools in the country and managing to hit Dean’s List every single semester. I was the very definition of a “high-functioning” alcoholic.
It wasn’t until school wrapped up and I headed back home that my daily routine began to diverge from everyone else’s. On my walk to my apartment I would almost always stop off to pick up some beer for that evening. I did this practically every day, with only the rarest exceptions.
It didn’t matter whether I had woken up that morning feeling ready to get sober. It didn’t matter if I had sworn to myself that I’d “never drink again” before heading off to school. No matter what commitments I had made to myself earlier in the day, I’d find an excuse to break them.
I’d tell myself that school had been hard, or that it was better to wait until the weekend to quit, or simply that I needed a few beers to relax. If there’s one thing an alcoholic is never short on, it’s excuses.
One way or another, I’d talk myself into buying some beer, and the entire time I’d think to myself “I’ll quit tomorrow.”
“Sure,” I’d think, “I want to quit soon, but today just isn’t the right day. Today, I’ve got a good reason to drink, but tomorrow will be the perfect day to finally get sober.”
This line, “I’ll quit tomorrow,” is one of the most insidious lies I’ve ever told myself, and what made it truly ridiculous was that I actually believed it.
When I went to buy alcohol each day, I only ever bought enough to last me through that night. I never stocked up on all my beer for the week at once, because I had myself fooled into believing that I wouldn’t need it. I always thought that I was just on the cusp of quitting and that the next day would be the true beginning of my sobriety.
I’d typically buy one six-pack of IPAs, sometimes two, and I’d normally start drinking as soon as I got home. If I ran out halfway through the night, I’d walk to the store and buy more, but again, only enough to last until I went to bed.
Sometimes, I’d feel a tinge of regret when I first started drinking each evening. I’d realize that I had gone back on my previous commitments to quit, and I’d feel embarrassed by my inability to follow through.
However, the more I drank, the less embarrassed I felt. My shame at having yet again succumbed to my addiction would be replaced with a new resolution to “quit tomorrow.” Ironically, the drunker that I got each night, the more confident I’d become that I truly would get sober the very next day.
I didn’t do much during my drinking hours. I’d try to finish up my homework right near the beginning of the evening, before I was too drunk to concentrate on it. Then, I’d watch television, surf the web, and daydream about my future as a nondrinker.
As the night wrapped up, I tried to make sure I finished off all the beer I had bought earlier in the evening. I didn’t want to have a single beer remaining when I woke up the next morning. I thought that by doing this, I’d be perfectly primed to begin a new life of sobriety the next day.
Every night, I’d fall asleep completely drunk and completely sure that the next day I’d turn things around.
I spent over a decade as a heavy drinker. Throughout the years, I made my fair share of attempts to quit drinking, but what happened even more often is that I just thought about quitting, without actually giving it a try.
Day after day, I told myself “I’ll quit tomorrow,” but that “tomorrow” never seemed to arrive. There’s a tragic absurdity to this way of thinking. I could go months or even years postponing sobriety while continuing to truly believe that I was just one day away from quitting drinking. I was deluding myself.
The way that I finally broke this pattern was by listening to the stories of other alcoholics. I began to read sobriety message boards online and to look through the “Big Book” used in AA meetings. I discovered that the thought processes I used to trick myself weren’t at all unique and that thousands of other addicts had rationalized their drinking in the exact same ways.
There was something truly powerful about hearing from other people who had been stuck in this same ridiculous loop of postponing sobriety day by day. It was easier to recognize the absurdity of these self-deceptions when I saw them in others, and that helped me to turn a critical eye on myself.
Hearing from others provided me clarity, and helped me to make a major shift in my mentality when it came to sobriety. I stopped telling myself “I’ll quit tomorrow,” and started saying “I’m quitting today.”