Saturday, May 9, 2020

Disappointments

disappointment
[ˌdisəˈpointmənt]
NOUN
  1. sadness or displeasure caused by the nonfulfillment of one's hopes or expectations.
    "to her disappointment, there was no chance to talk privately with Luke"
I had wine again last night but I have a moment of clarity right now...…..so, so clear.....for the first time ever.

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.

The graph isn't that clear but you get my point.  The blue line going from left to right is increasing disappointments in myself leading to decreased happiness with myself.  When I was younger there was always hope to be better.  Once I hit 40 I lost hope for much change.  The yellow line illustrates an increase in my drinking.  When those two lines crossed I realized I had a problem.  Somewhere around age 40.

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!

Happy Saturday,
HD


4 comments:

  1. Do you have a lot of regrets as well?
    I know I had to leave those behind. I wasn’t going to be famous, popular, or all the things I wanted to be.
    I was never going to do all the things I wanted,
    I accepted these things.
    I accepted my mistakes.
    xo
    Wendy

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  2. Yes - self compassion is so important xx

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  3. Habit, I am like you, "why do I drink when I am alone?", but not with others, not at major gatherings, etc. My life has been good, even a success, when I look at my beginnings, till now. I was brought up by a single mom, never enough money, on welfare, etc. I managed to go to college, graduate, get a good job in an interesting industry, and be a responsible adult. I used to drink to have fun, even when I drank way too much. Then I drank to cope. Now, for the past four years (actually since I turned 50, why kid myself) I have been trying to stop 100%. Haven't managed it. Why? Don't stop trying. It's so hard, but it can be done. When is the unknown. xo, Lia

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