Today it has started to sink in just how much I have still to learn about living a fulfilled life without alcohol.
When I stopped drinking, I was aware on some level that it was the first step to dealing with the problems I was facing. But then stopping drinking initially was only that – I had to start somewhere, and it did take some getting used to not including alcohol as part of the normal routine.
I think I may have become side tracked by the first stage. Look, I’m not drinking, so I’m sober… Am I? My husband went to the pub last night to meet a friend he’d not seen for years, who asked why I hadn’t come out. (Actually, Mr W didn’t really ask me to go with him anyway, and I was fine with that). My husband said I’d stayed in and I don’t drink….!!!! I immediately felt like a huge fraud when he told me what he’d said!! I mean, yes I’m not drinking but I’ve only got 49 days, and describing me as someone who ‘doesn’t drink’ makes it sound as though I know what I’m doing, that I’m an experienced ‘non-drinker’. Neither of which is true.
Since yesterday’s post I have become slightly obsessed (oh that’s an oxymoron I’ve just realised, but I like it anyway) about the phase that follows on from ‘stopping drinking’, and I’ve googled ‘dealing with problems in sobriety’ a few times. Confusion reigns…
There are people who say that being sober is the most important thing, and everything else comes afterwards. Which I agree with in that I think the first step in quitting drinking is not admitting that you are an alcoholic, but instead, stopping drinking. I felt that my brain was quite literally under the influence while still drinking, and the first thing I needed to do was stop that.
But I also found articles/info describing ‘dry drunks’, who seemingly can be just as unpleasant to be around sober as when they were drinking, because they are stuck in the process of recovery, and feel resentment that they can no longer drink. Argh!
I don’t want to be stuck in recovery (am I in recovery? what is recovery?!), but I am just beginning to sense the magnitude of what I need to deal with to be healthy (mentally, mainly) and live my life fully. And quite frankly, it’s a bit scary.
One of the things I found through my google search was something written by Jean Kirkpatrick, founder of Women for Sobriety, appropriately entitled ‘Dealing with the confusions of early sobriety’. It was reassuring. It does mention the ‘New Life’ programme of Women for Sobriety, which I haven’t really looked at, but it mainly just explains that we shouldn’t be shocked when we realise that being sober doesn’t solve every problem, and to stay calm even though we feel like sobriety isn’t working or helping. Which of course, it is helping, it’s just that it’s hard to look at our lives with sober eyes and have to face up to things without reaching for the wine to hide behind.
I also found ‘Maintaining Abstinence vs Achieving Sobriety’ at alcoholrehab.com, which was a bit harsh, I thought. This was the page which described the ‘dry drunk’. But it also said that people who have unhealthy drinking habits may have developed these as a result of poor coping abilities, and so quitting will then expose these difficulties when life happens, and I suppose when all of the things we may have been hiding from whilst drinking, resurface. Because you can’t stuff things down forever.
Something else just came into my head… I watched ‘Thanks for Sharing’ On Netflix the other week, with Mark Ruffalo and Gwyneth Paltrow. One of the sponsors said ‘Feelings are like kids – you definitely don’t want them driving the car, but you don’t want to shove them in the trunk either’. I liked that.
Have I really got anywhere? Well, yes. I now have some idea of what I’m dealing with, so that’s got to be progress, surely?!