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Does the Real You Drink Alcohol?
Spoiler alert: No. The real you does not use nor is consequently beholden to, a known carcinogen. If you’d like to delve more into this, read on! If you know for certain that alcohol fulfills all your life’s dreams, then peace be with you.
When do you feel like you are being true to yourself? Is it when you’re at ease and satisfied? Have you never felt like the real you but you’ve heard rumors that other people have felt that way? Can I be “me” and still drink? When I’m under the influence am I “me”?
Many people in this world of ours have felt as though they “found themselves” when they started drinking, that it makes them feel at ease, relaxed, comfortable in their own skin; that it magically removes that insidious voice in their heads that keeps them awake at night and their foot on the gas all day long. That they wouldn’t know who they were if they quit, or if they have quit, well, heck, it’s time to get back to it now isn’t it, because they so uncomfortable and how do they fill the time?
Let’s break this down.
• Drinking allows you to stop thinking about your drinking.
Ok. If you give in to the hissy fit in your head telling you that drinking is a good idea, then it will shut the voice up. But then the voice tells you to keep drinking right? And then it tells you to drink next time and the next…and then the other voice starts telling you that you need to get back to looking at recovery blogs and articles like this, right? It’s the cycle. The voice will only shut the hell up if you don’t actually drink. If you continue to drink, it will keep it up. True story.
• Drinking makes you feel relaxed.
Well, it’s not an illusion exactly, at first. Studies show that people feel relaxed just before they have actually drank from the glass or bottle, they feel an anticipatory false relaxation, which has stemmed only from remembered responses in the brain. Next, after initial actual ingestion, you only feel relaxed because you’ve:
a) Shut that hissy fit voice up momentarily
b) Given in to pre-programming of a feeling of relaxation in relation to alcohol
c) The body hasn’t started metabolizing it yet i.e.: going into detox, which is very uncomfortable, stress inducing, anxiety causing etc.
d) Reinforced the pleasure and reward system that your brain has learned over time
e) Shut down protective measures in the brain and body i.e.: inhibitions, motor skills, long-term planning etc.
f) Connected to “e”, the reptilian brain has taken over and is working only moment to moment.
• Drinking feels rebellious.
I get that. Well, I get all of what you’re thinking. The thing is, that drinking is not a rebellious act. Because it’s an activity that most of the world’s population engages in. When it comes to subversive acts, being a non-drinker cannot be underestimated. Not drinking is a rebellious act.
The feeling of rebellion is from your core, from your reasoning, it’s the cognitive dissonance that is being wrestled with; you are rebelling only against yourself and what you know to be true.
You are following someone else’s rules by continuing to drink. The world tells you that drinking is both pleasurable and normal, drinking causes you to follow along with everyone else and consequently lose your identity in the process. You have 1 person in your world suggesting that you shouldn’t drink (which is you, at times of true clarity). The rest of the world is cheerleading you to hop back onto the drinking wagon with them.
• People whose viewpoints you respect do drink and think there’s nothing wrong with it.
I bet that you have actually figured this one out already, see, it is your cognitive dissonance at play.
I have been around both a husband telling me I’m fine and it’s ok to drink and also then later telling me I would be making a huge error if I started drinking again. It makes things confusing but is also helpful - this is all until you’ve taken the vow to stay true to yourself and do what’s best for you (i.e.: drinking is not involved).
Then whatever someone else says or does not say is of no consequence. It is then that you regain your real identity. And that feeling of self-assuredness can only come from being separated from the vulnerability of alcohol ingestion.
• Other people can “achieve more in their careers and in other areas” and do it while still drinking.
It can be done. Many “successful” people have continued drinking, many even have gone into rehab (some repeatedly) at the top of their game. It’s not the success that matters or whether it can be done, it’s not about comparing either way. You just are responsible for being the best you that you want to be.
Comparison has been taking a huge toll on people living in this time period in history. We are losing out on our own lives while scrolling through everyone else’s. It affects us on a physiological level.
Drinking was something to occupy my time while I felt the burden of opportunities lost, while I neglected the opportunities that were not lost, but were around me and needed my care. If we can stay in the present moment (through meditation, breathing exercises, journaling, recovery groups, counseling), the feelings of “what if”, the hissy fits, the competitiveness that leads to only bad feelings and further inaction, will relent. The voice in the head will shut-up. Because we’ve not fed it more, more of which it will never be full.
No doubt we have all struggled with these ideas that the drinking that we habitually participated in was somehow interwoven in who we were as people. And in a way, it was. It was “who we were” for however long we put up with it. Many of us were able to manage around it, through it, beside it, in spite of it. But we were not living outside of its influence. We were not living without alcohol’s permission, one way or another. Only in becoming non-drinkers can we truly be ourselves - out of the influence of alcohol, rather than under the influence. See? We were there all along.
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