Dear Gee, I am back on the sober train for about the 1000th time in the last decade and am worn out from day ones and telling people, ooops, I feel again. I have done online courses, read the books, listen to the podcasts and yet still feel powerless over alcohol. What can I do to change the chip in my head and finally grasp how poisonous it is in my life? Hey lovely, One of the reasons we tend to drink far too much when we fall off the wagon is because alcohol isn’t all it’s cracked up to be; we exaggerate the effects in our mind and build it up to be the elixir of life when all it really is, is a drug in a glass. It’s the waste product of yeast! We have spent years programming our minds to think drink alleviates stress and so stress response is to pick up the wine glass. We have learned by association. Let’s say you’ve stopped drinking and you have a really terrible day. You just want to take the edge off it. You think a drink will do that; it will take you from feeling utterly miserable to actually feeling happy and positive. You think of all the times you were happy and drinking, and you want that back. So you have a drink. Here’s the reality, if that drink actually made you happy then you really wouldn’t have the need for another would you? If you went from misery to happiness you’d be good to go after the first glass. But this isn’t what happens. When we’re drinking regularly we simply yo- yo between the withdrawal and relieving the withdrawal. When we’re not drinking we suffer the withdrawal and we feel miserable and anxious, and when we drink we relieve the withdrawal and feel much better. Imagine how we’d feel all the time if we’d never drunk to begin with. Alcohol does seem to relieve stress, but it’s an illusion, we do genuinely feel better for a drink when we are drinking regularly.
Once you’ve stopped for any period, there is no withdrawal to relieve. Your subconscious doesn’t know that, it just recalls what you’ve programmed your mind to know, which is, a drink seems to help when things get bad. So you immediately go to your default and want a drink. You are miserable and unhappy, you take a drink expecting to feel happier, but you don’t. You still feel miserable and unhappy, but now you feel slightly dulled and miserable and unhappy, in fact even more miserable and unhappy because you’ve started drinking again. Stress and willpower are biologically incompatible, when we encounter a change or stress that feels too much we go back to old familiar responses. The hard facts here are to be honest, stop kidding yourself. Drinking will not solve your problem, it will still be there the next day, along with your banging hang over, dry mouth and raging anxiety caused by your black out, wondering what you did or said! When you stop drinking life is better, but no life is perfect. You’ll still have bad days. But if you’ve stopped for any length of time, a drink won’t even give you the illusion of offering you any relief. Stick with the plan, tell people of your intent to stop drinking, hold yourself accountable, don’t play at it, be present and responsible, plan for difficult expected situations, what’s your plan when temptation gets in your way? Be kind to yourself and acknowledge the wins. You need your women around you; ready to offer support and share their experiences and responses. You can do this. The hardest part is stopping and the initial withdrawal, the trick to maintaining sobriety is the group of sisters who are supporting you to stay resilient. If you want it, you can have it. Good luck x
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