The Fear of Getting Sober

I can see now, that one of the main reasons for why it took me so long to become sober was fear. It wasn’t so much that I was afraid of what was going to happen to me – it was the fear of what I would be like as a sober person. My job as a habitual drunk gave me the perfect alibi for being a failure in life. I knew that if I became sober and continued to fail, there would be no excuse anymore – I’d be exposed, and that terrified me.


Addiction is a the Best Scapegoat Ever

During my years of being a drunk, I blamed all of my defects and failings in life on just one thing. I honestly believed that I would have been tremendously successful at anything I put my mind to if it wasn’t for my little problem with the drink. I imagined that there was this huge well of potential inside of me just waiting to be tapped – the only think preventing this happening was that I’d been cursed with a disease called alcoholism. It meant that I could sit in bars all day and try convince anyone who would listen that ‘I could have been a contender if it wasn’t for the booze holding me back’. It was sort of like enjoying some of the pleasure of being a winner without ever having to do anything.

For a long time, I honestly believed that somebody else was going to come along and spot my potential. These people would walk into a pub where I just happened to be drinking, and they would somehow notice that I had all this untapped talent that they could exploit. I would be headhunted to join an indie band that was going places or to write a bestselling book. It’s embarrassing now, but I really did used to think that way. If a stranger had walked up to me in a pub and said that she/he recognized me as a math genius or an enlightened being, I would have had no problem believing them. I’d no problem with estimating my talent inside of drunken fantasies; it was testing my potential in real life that scared the shit out of me.

Facing the Fear

I knew that if I gave up alcohol, I would no longer have that excuse for being a failure. There would be no more “if only”- I’d be taking full responsibility for my own situation and my own future. Instead of being able to fantasize about all my hidden potential, I would have to face challenges that would test me and this meant risking failure. To be honest, it didn’t sound like an appealing proposition to me – better to believe that you could have been a winner than to know that you are a loser.

I faced this fear, and the most wonderful things began to happen. I let go of the excuse of addiction, and I put my abilities to the test. I soon found out that there was no Stephen King or Kurt Cobain just waiting to be set free, but I found something far more precious than this – I had the potential to be the best me possible. Over time, I found out that it was okay to fail at things and that by admitting that I’d no talent for something, it did not mean that I was a failure or a bad person.

I no longer have to fantasize about my hidden potential. I’m happy as I am, and I no longer need any excuses for being a failure – because I’m not a failure. I’m not waiting for anyone to come along and fix me because there is nothing to be fixed. I’ve dug right down to discover my real potential, and it turns out that I’m just a normal guy – isn’t that wonderful?

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4 thoughts on “The Fear of Getting Sober

  1. “but I found something far more precious than this – I had the potential to be the best me possible.”

    I love this insight. Very wise words Paul.

  2. Great piece. Very mature writing style, well organized thoughts, heartfelt and easy read. ‘There is nothing to be fixed’. You hit it on the head’. Peace,

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