Saturday, 26 September 2015


A common reaction when I tell people that I haven't touched alcohol for several months is "Wow, you have amazing willpower!"

For a few moments I revel in the impression of myself as a woman of substance. With backbone. Serious inner strength. I pity mere mortals and their lack of gumption.

Then I remember that, in truth, I have the willpower of a moth, constantly flying into a hot lightbulb. I am almost entirely willpowerless.

You see, we drinkers - I believe - are natural hedonists. If we like doing something, we like doing more of it. We do not like to deprive ourselves.

We give our wills free reign. We let them go crazy. We don't believe in keeping our wills, or anything else for that matter, in check.

This makes us really fabulously interesting and exuberant people. (See Why Ex-drinkers Rock). But it does also get us into a lot of trouble. Eventually.

If I did, actually, have a great deal of willpower then I wouldn't have to give up drinking. I would be able to have a glass of wine, once in a while, and then stop! That's what willpower is about.

Bill Wilson, the co-founder of AA, argued that the 'test' for alcoholism wasn't whether or not you could quit drinking for a week, or a month at a time, but whether you could drink just one drink then stop, every evening for a week. Now that takes willpower.

That I could not do. (See Am I an Alcoholic? Part 2)

The problem with constantly having to assert willpower is that it is exhausting! Because the more you concentrate on not doing something, the more you want to do it.

You live in a constant state of denial and dissatisfaction. You use up loads of space in your head, fighting with yourself, leaving you little room for doing anything more constructive.

It's a truly miserable way to live.

That's why quitting drinking is a vastly better idea than 'moderating.' Because if you're 'moderating' you have to use your willpower ALL THE TIME. But, if you quit altogether, then, after a while (about 100 days), you no longer have to use any willpower at all. Or hardly ever. Because you no longer want to drink.

And that, for we wonderful, pleasure seeking hedonists, is a great relief.

So whenever I get complimented on my amazing willpower, I just smile enigmatically, thinking "oh you ignorant, ordinary normie. If only you knew...."

But you do know, don't you?

Love SM x

Related posts: Moderation. Is it Possible? and Moderation. Is it Possible? Part 2


  1. So true. If i had will power I'd be a size zero and able to run a marathon. The first thing people usually ask me (when they learn I've been sober since the end of Feb) is 'do you feel better?'' There are so many things I want to tell them but know they won't understand. Like, yes my mental health is much better, or, no I'm not brimming with energy like you imagine you would be sans alcohol. Usually I just say, rather meekly, yes my life is better now. So even though I feel a bit boring at times, and getting to like myself is hard work, I can't imagine going back to that life. And for all those who are thinking, yes but I can't live without alcohol - I was EXACTLY like you. You can get out of that hell hole and survive. Big sober hugs SM x

  2. I'm still in that place where I like alcohol - how the heck does one move forward from that?

    1. Hi Suzie! If you're here then i bet you hate drinking as much as you love it? Try reading Jason Vale's book 'Kick the Drink', and I'm going to write my next post for you 'The Abusive Lover' xxx

    2. Here's the link, Suzie:

  3. For me, I just reached a place that I knew I had to stop. You might not be at what feels like rock bottom, but you know in your heart you cannot carry on the way you are. It took me 20 years to reach that point. And yes, at first it seems impossible. But take one day at a time and before you know it you'll have clocked up a sober 7 months and wonder how the hell you managed it. Reading this blog everyday helped me too. x

  4. Willpower is just a politically correct term for obsessed. It's all about trying to control your world. It comes from a place of fear and uncertainty.

    The hardest thing for me to grasp was that willpower had nothing to do with quitting drinking. It was all acceptance and letting go.

  5. Oh yes, I completely agree. The amount of headspace I have now is gargantuan now that I don't have those torturous internal debates about shall I, how much, what to have? Where, alone or invite someone?
    I feel total relief that the decision is made. I don't have to think about it, and, should a little internal voice pipe up and say 'why not have one'?' That thought is kicked into touch immediately and I get on with 'just being'. Free. Xx