How to Stop Drinking Away the Pain
I spent a long time not wanting to drink and found myself drinking anyway. Sometimes it was a learned response to my body’s signals for something else like hunger or thirst. Sometimes I drank to numb emotional pain. I drank to numb any uncomfortable feeling without realizing that it was a learned response that I was perfectly capable of un-learning.
If you spell the acronym HALT – hungry, angry, lonely, tired- those are the triggers that set off the feelings that I learned to drink through. No one likes to feel discomfort or pain and alcohol numbs pain right? Well at first it does.
They say that Will Power Alone doesn’t work when you are trying to stop drinking and this is what they mean. These times that I found myself drinking, even when I started my day determined NOT to drink, often felt habitual. On my way home from work ‘must buy wine’ entered my head and off I went to dutifully purchase it despite my best intentions. My habit of feeding that hungry, tired, empty feeling at the end of the day with wine was so strong. I would find myself once again drinking in disbelief and despair with myself.
‘How the fck did this happen again!?! I Did Not Want to do this!!!’
I did learn some simple routines that helped me stop filling that uncomfortable end of the day void with alcohol. I started to simply mother myself the way I mother my son and made sure that I had an afternoon snack to fend off the cravings. I also erased the opportunity to buy wine on the way home from work by leaving extra money and cards at home. Those simple things did help me.
Often though, drinking for me was also to escape uncomfortable emotional feelings. ‘I feel sad/angry/scared/overwhelmed/uncreative/lonely..’ or ‘I feel ashamed because I drank yesterday!’ And those were times when I Wanted to drink, despite myself.
In those situations, booze would give me that numb, that lift that I wanted to escape or avoid those feelings. For a while. More often than not though, after a few hours, I’d feel worse than I did before the drink. I’d spend the evening obsessively thinking about the issue. Trying to resolve it or lamenting on it. But alcohol could never help me to Actually resolve any of these issues. It added fuel to them. It made them worse. Although I was using alcohol to get away from these uncomfortable feelings it actively kept me stuck in them!
It took a couple of years of stopping and starting for me to get some serious sober momentum going. I think I took that long to stay stopped because I felt that life was so hard I couldn’t cope without alcohol. And partly because it was ‘me’. I’d always drunk my way through adult life. Alcohol was an old friend I couldn’t imagine shutting out completely.
But eventually, I did. Eventually, I started adding more sober days every month and finally adding one 100% sober month to the next. Although I’m not out of the woods yet sobriety is offering me so much that I don’t feel I will ever go back to drinking.
Now that I’m not drinking, those uncomfortable feelings and ongoing problems, even new ones, aren’t as scary and unmanageable as they previously seemed. In sobriety, joyfully, I actually have the ability to look at them, objectively, with perspective. I literally love myself more too (easy when you are not constantly beating yourself up for drinking) and want to Do Something to make things better. I want to face stuff that has been causing so much pain, discomfort, and despair. Because I deserve to feel better.
Yesterday I did a guided loving-kindness meditation. The first thing I was instructed to do was to picture my 5-year-old self in front of me and give her my love. I burst into tears immediately!! I wasn’t expecting that. And I found it hard. I felt so sad for her. Then I had to imagine someone close to giving love to and I chose my son. I cried again. I felt so guilty.
Having my emotions stirred up like this would have been an automatic cue to drink previously. This time though, I let myself ponder on it. Clearly there’s some stuff inside that needs some healing. I’ve known this for a long time. So later that evening I did a meditation to help heal childhood trauma (I’ve not experienced trauma. My issue was a mum with clinical depression the whole of my childhood. Nothing huge, but has had a big and lasting effect on me none the less). And I intend to try some tapping for this too. I intend to keep working through this one. And without booze trying to suppress it for me, I actually can now!
There have been a few things that have come up since I stopped drinking and Finally, I am slowly learning how to unpick them, face them, smooth them, forgive them, move through them. I am learning to Grow!!!
Doing Yoga and meditation regularly is one of the ways that I have learned to mother myself. I wanted to share some yoga routines I do to make me feel good when I’m feeling empty.
I was terrible at looking after myself when I was drinking. I just didn’t, with the exception of some yoga and meditation occasionally. The more sober days I have accumulated the more I’ve used both to give something back to my scrambled mind and worn-out body. They deserve it after all they’ve been through.
I’ve also been a single mom for a long time. And being single can often mean being lonely. A big trigger. We can also be lonely and feel unloved in relationships too – I have.
We all need love from others but we need love from ourselves too and we can forget to do that when we’ve let alcohol have the driving seat.
So, if you are in need of some love I highly recommend trying one of these self-love yoga sessions. The first is only 10 mins. The others are 40-50 mins. And when you feel down, lonely or empty and have a whole evening stretching ahead without the company of the worst lover ever (alcohol) a good long gentle yoga session focusing on self-love is goddamn bliss!!
If you’ve never tried yoga, the first two are a really lovely introduction to it.
And if you are looking for support to stop drinking come talk to us . BOOM Rethink the Drink . The Boom community has been the best tool in my sober tool box.
Before I stopped trying to drink away the pain, living with my feelings and fears and problems without alcohol was scary!! The thought of being naked, without a comfort blanket, or a rock to hide under made me feel uncomfortable. But the truth is it’s actually just very bloody freeing! And the things I was hiding from aren’t as scary anymore. Because sober I’ve got ME, and unhindered by alcohol. And I can cope.
Life is a glorious journey. Putting down the drink to live it fully is just the beginning.
If you’re “sober curious” … If you are drinking too much too often and want to stop or take a break…or if you have stopped drinking and are trying to stick to sober! Talk to Us.
We are an independent, anonymous and private community who share resources, support and talk it through every day. It helps to have a community behind you in a world where alcohol is the only addictive drug that people will question you for NOT using
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