I didn’t think that I had an abnormal relationship with alcohol until I realized that I’ve been trying to stop drinking since January. Six months of broken promises to myself have not been good for my self esteem, nor has it been good for my waistline which will be gracing the beaches of San Diego in 3 weeks time. I swore to myself that if I touched another drop before my trip, that I would write this post and out myself. So here I am; I need your advice.
I’m not an alcoholic…at least, I don’t think I am (way to be in denial!) but I am definitely teetering on the precipice of some sheer rock face of addiction that I want to take a step back from…so what’s stopping me?
I don’t know exactly what is stopping me, but I have found it very difficult to stop drinking alcohol. I don’t drink every day, I don’t think about alcohol when I’m at work or studying. I don’t drink every weekend, I don’t drink to get wasted, nor do I drink because I feel depressed. I do, however, drink a bottle of wine per week…sometimes a bit more, which I know is too much. I drink alone at home because my boyfriend doesn’t drink (why do I need to do this?), and the thing that concerns me most of all is that I’m having difficulty stopping drinking even though I want to. I don’t feel in control of my compulsion to drink and I find it irresistible on some occassions. I’m at a very weird place right now because I genuinely don’t know if I need help to stop drinking, or if I need help to stop being so hard on myself and just let myself enjoy wine! This is why I need your help. Have you ever experienced the feeling that you are on the edge of an addiction? Have you had the voice at the back of your mind say ‘this is getting out of control?’ Have you ever felt trapped into a cycle of wanting to stop something but struggling and feeling guilty? If so, what did you do about it?
I think I may be addicted to addiction. In my young adult life, I hopped from addiction to addiction, managing to defeat each one as I went. Yet shortly after said defeat, I would unconsciously find something else to bestow my compulsive, cyclical and patterned behaviour upon (why is it never the gym or knitting?!). I am now pretty tired of beating bad habits and I want the pattern beneath them to stop. I stopped my compulsive behaviour with men (we won’t go into that…my mum might be reading this!), I stopped smoking two years ago and haven’t touched cigarettes or thought about them ever again, and I stopped partying with no cravings whatsoever to take it up again, but I know that the underlying pattern of behaviour that caused me to choose these things for myself in the first place is still there. And at the moment, it hides in bottles of merlot and beckons me over as I walk past. Can anyone else relate to this addiction-hopping behaviour?
I also think that I’ve had difficulty stopping drinking because my good old pal alcohol and I have had some really great times together. I definitely associate drinking with happiness. I drink when I see my family, I drink when I see my friends, I drink to be relaxed after a challenging day, and I drink to reward myself. I can see that I associate drinking with feeling good, and by the magic of neural-plasticity, my mind now instructs me to drink as a fast way to bring about good feelings. But having knowledge of this devious mental trickery doesn’t seem to be helping: why can’t I stop? I know that the ‘good connections’ between drink and happiness are illusions for two reasons: First, because I also feel great when I’m not drinking so drink is not the only cause of my good feelings. And second, because on more than one occassion, drink has definitely NOT made me feel good. (Admittedly, I am still in the process of forgiving some of my alcohol-related shame.) Intuitively, I know that I need to replace alcohol with something else that’s going to have positive associations, and I feel silly writing this, but I don’t yet know what that thing might be.
This might sound weird, but I feel that my experiences with Spirit have allowed me to feel such heights of love, peace, forgiveness and security- such an intense and natural ‘high’- that when I don’t have those feelings (like when I’m a bit stressed about University or dealing with other earthly issues) I compulsively try to replicate the spiritually authentic ‘high’ feelings of peace, comfort and connectedness with whatever mind-altering substance or behaviour I am focused on at that time. It is as if I seek a fast-track back to secure spiritual feelings when I feel at my most insecure. I wonder if I am alone in this, or if any of you spiritual people out there have also found yourselves trying to replicate the high that you feel when you remember your divinity?
I must carry a subconscious thought that I am receiving some great benefit from drinking alcohol. Why would I continue to do it otherwise? My mind is still convinced that whatever good feelings/benefits I’m receiving from alcohol are more valuable than the benefits of stopping- even though I know in my heart-of-hearts that it’s not true.
Maybe I need therapy.
Maybe I need therapy to figure out why I am so independent in some ways, and yet I seem to fall into such deep patterns of dependency. Perhaps I need some help to understand why, when I go to buy a bottle of wine, my mind is thinking ‘woohoo!’ and choosing to focus on the good times, and not the the feelings of remorse and guilt, or the times I’ve been horrid to one of my loved ones, or said something embarrassing under the influence. I just want to understand why the big part of me that wants to stop is completely drowned out when I have the choice to drink wine…
I appreciate that this post has deviated from the blog’s usual content. I hope you don’t mind. A lot of personal stuff has been coming to the surface from within me lately, because I have been writing about my past for a book that I have coming out in January. I think it’s ‘meant to be’ that I’m digging and crying and re-visiting and writing at the moment. I think that Spirit is helping me to work through some stuff that needs worked through, and that I’m going to come out the other end somewhat unburdened and relieved. I really hope so- the habitual behaviour stuff is definitely a heavy issue that I’d like to let go of. So thank you for reading and in doing so, helping me to work through my issues. (We all have ’em, right?)
So what do you think about my drinking dilemma? Your thoughts are most gratefully received.
Next Week: L is for Love. (One of my favourite things to write about!)
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