You see, I've spent hours deliberating why I drink. I even wrote a whole draft post about my personality and my deep ingrained fears as to how that may cause me to turn to escapism. But it didn't feel right. I think there is some truth that my deep seated fear of catastrophe and fear of emotional pain somehow contributes to my drinking but I don't think that is the biggest issue.
I keep having a persistent feeling of grief and yet not feeling I have anything to grieve. This has been unsettling as I couldn't put my finger on it. I'm not really sad so why do I feel sadness? I have nothing to be sad about. I have no right to grieve.
When I woke up this morning and said "damn it, why do I continually disappoint myself?", it was like a lightning bolt went through me.
I am grieving my life's disappointments deep down inside of me. Outwardly I tell myself I feel happy and that I have a great life. I am masking all those feelings about how I have disappointed myself. When those feelings bubble up and I can't push them away, I drink and tune them out.
To me this explains why I'm not sticking with sobriety. When I first quit drinking I am proud of myself. I have all sorts of goals for myself. Then, as happens, I disappoint myself in some way. Maybe I don't exercise like I say I'm going to in sobriety. Or maybe I don't eat right. Or maybe just feelings about my life bubble up. It gets to be too much and I drink again. Then I have disappointed myself again so might as well keep drinking. It's easier to drink than be disappointed.
I spent time this morning cataloging where I have disappointed myself in my life. It's a pretty long list, lol. I made a graph to show what I am feeling. I started out in life really happy with myself. I went off to College on top of the world! As I've disappointed myself over the years I've escaped with drinking. Drinking went from being a social thing with occasional binges to a coping mechanism for everyday life.
We all disappoint ourselves but I think some are better at acknowledging it. Some folks acknowledge it and are depressed or anxious. I've never allowed myself to feel those feelings. I think that's where shame comes in and maybe it is time to let myself feel some shame for my decisions and do some work on that. I never thought I had shame but I think there may be heaps of it buried deep inside of me.
I did some online searching and I think one article spoke to me more than others. The next time I want to drink I'm going to do some work:
1) Notice the signals: When I want to drink I'm going to ask myself how I'm feeling. Are there things I haven't accomplished, am I feeling bad about myself in some way that I want to tune out?
2) Give myself some space: Allow those feelings to be there. Don't push them away
3) Give myself compassion: Tell myself I'm still worthy, give myself a virtual hug. Go find something to reward myself (that is not alcohol) for acknowledging the feeling.
4) See the greatness of the present: Change my story. Sure I may have failed at X but I have succeeded in so many other ways. Remind myself of what has gone well and feel gratefulness.
5) Work with curiosity: Tomorrow will be exciting, especially if feeling refreshed. It's okay to feel tired and out of control of some things. Sleep will be a good reset. Get good sleep.
This all seems pretty trite in some ways. I've always known that drinking brings shame. I know that during cravings I should distract myself. I know to "sit" with my feelings but to sit with them I have to know what I am feeling. That was always the missing link for me.....what on earth am I really feeling?
All I can say is that for a long time, in the evenings, I have experienced a tired grieving feeling. An end of day tiredness, yes, we all have that, but this is more. It's like I have experienced a loss that I need to grieve. I want to reach for wine to sooth my pain. I think I am grieving the loss of myself, of my goals and who I thought I was. I didn't become who I thought I would. Didn't lead the exact life I wanted.
This is all probably normal and we all process this differently. But maybe this explains a lot of gray area drinkers and why it's in our 40s, 50s and 60s that a lot of us begin to deal with drinking escalation.
Finally really sitting here and thinking about this, acknowledging all this about myself, has been like opening the floodgates. I HAVE really disappointed myself and I am already 50. People and events have disappointed me but that I can deal with. In fact, in times of challenge, I drink less. I am invigorated. It's the sitting with myself that I try to drown out. I think this explains the at home drinking and why I never drink too much out with or amongst others. In social situations I am distracted from the grief. I feel welcome and alive. But by myself...…..or just sitting with the hubs in the evening...….it's a different story.
Enough on this for now. I'm going to keep thinking along these lines though. I know what I must do. I need to think about my disappointments, feel the pain, forgive myself for each one, end each thought with something I'm grateful for, and move on. Grieving is a process and it's like I've been stuck in a phase of it.
I also still have to "not pick up that glass of wine", just don't start again. That's my plan!