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How I Ditched the Dysfunctional Drinking
Have you ever felt like your anticipation of having a drink was greater than the pleasure derived from drinking it? A few years ago, I was drinking too much, too often, and I began to realize I wasn’t enjoying the drinking anymore, and yet I didn’t want to stop. What I wanted was to drink more. This made no sense to me!
IT’S JUST NOT WORKING ANYMORE.
We want what is best for ourselves. Its why we drank. We either wanted to feel good or avoid something that felt bad or some combination of the two. Not many of us started drinking because we wanted to harm ourselves. That was just a side effect. Early on, I discovered the coping mechanism of drinking alcohol that seemed to work fast and damned if it didn’t make me feel “happy”. It was brief though, and that happy wasn’t as good as it was in the beginning, and I began damaging myself with alcohol in the pursuit of “happy”.
If someone treats you badly, do you go back and ask for more?? “I need to see him so he can cheat on me, call me an asshole and leave his dirty dishes in the sink!” (Sadly, we know that actually happens in real life, but perhaps a subject for a different day)
I started to consider the possibility that my relationship with alcohol had become more than just a casual acquaintance. It was looking more like a love/hate toxic and dysfunctional relationship, with too much neediness on my part, and too much demand, let-downs, and broken promises on alcohol’s part.
Dear Booze, I don’t love you anymore.
I started to drink too much in an attempt to capture that happy buzz, and it was becoming a heavy burden. I was experiencing some serious negative consequences because of it; for example, having my wallet stolen from my purse at the grocery store because I walked away from it, or nearly losing my job because I drank at work. Yet it could have been so much worse. That’s when I considered parting ways with the controlling little alcohol creep.
I eventually did leave that relationship as it became clearer that the damage caused by alcohol was greater than any pleasure received from it. In the beginning, quitting was not easy, and what kept me going was my adherence to the knowledge and understanding that it was necessary.
Alcohol didn’t fit in my life anymore, and yet, it didn’t want to go away without a fight. It was constantly lurking around trying to convince me I still needed it. “Do you miss me yet? C’mon… I know you miss me! I know you think about me.”
Why was it so hard to quit if there were so many negative consequences, and I was no longer experiencing the pleasure I used to feel when I was not as heavy a drinker?
The answer is complicated. and while I am not saying its fact or not, what I am reading and what makes the most sense to me from various recovery websites, is this:
- There is no one-size-fits-all answer. Everyone has their own individual reasons. It can include peer pressure, painful emotional issues, psychological problems, lack of self-esteem, trauma, self-medicating, and much more.
That being said, for heavy drinkers, when the drinking stops, the problems that existed before drinking or even new ones, can start to surface.
There is a physiological explanation as well. Alcohol use at any level is bad for the brain. The good news is that by quitting alcohol, even those who have spent years using alcohol and throwing off the balance of their brains can begin to heal and restore the brain’s natural function.
The brain’s frontal lobe is responsible for reasoning, behavior, memory, and motor function. Depending on the amount of drinking prior, it can take several months to return back to normal after being affected by excessive drinking. Even years later the brain is still healing for some heavy drinkers in recovery.
In my opinion, it’s why quitting gets easier over the longer term. We slowly improve our ability to reason. It makes a lot of sense considering our lack of reasoning upon first quitting booze; often choosing to drink when it is clearly a very bad idea. Cravings have a lot to do with it as well, but it doesn’t appear to be the only factors.
Can we just be friends …with benefits?
I stopped drinking and have been sober for over a year. I have very little to no cravings, nor do I have major psychological or emotional problems. I still have my problems, but I think it’s safe to say I’m within “normal” guidelines. If that’s the case, then why can’t I just have one or two drinks a couple times a week?
Why do my friends get to drink?
Why must I quit forever?
It is unfortunate, but statistically speaking, the majority of people who try to drink in moderation to curb their alcohol abuse fail. It’s a commonly held thought, for this reason, that turning back to alcohol can reopen the door to abuse and ultimately lead back to addiction.
That’s not to say that moderation is not possible. I know many who can handle it. It’s just not for me. Why would I want to, knowing the risks as well the unhealthy nature of alcohol? That was a toxic and abusive relationship, and it was difficult enough trying to rid myself of the controlling, stalking narcissistic asshole (alcohol).
I refuse to be abused again by that creep. I will not let it trap me once more, in that “Groundhog Day” insanity. I won’t be fooled again.
Good Riddance, Alcohol! (And, no, I don’t want to be friends)
I’m finished with alcohol!
I’m Done with the Damage that Alcohol Caused Me
I damaged myself physically. At the very least, I made myself sick and nauseous and at the worst, I contributed to what could have possibly ended up as organ failure in a worst-case scenario had I continued to drink in the same manner. I was already told by my physician that I had elevated liver enzymes which indicates liver cell damage, though they didn’t represent a serious problem …yet.
I damaged myself mentally. I admit it. I was a wacko when I was drinking. It’s embarrassing to think about the moments I actually remember. When I was first attempting to get free of alcohol, there were times I felt like I would lose my mind forever.
I damaged myself emotionally. In my first few months after quitting alcohol, when I wasn’t acting passively aggressive to nearly everyone in my life, pretty much everything made me cry: funerals, sad movies, re-runs of Lassie, you name it.
The good part is, human beings are extremely resilient! At least, the human body is. It’s quite fantastic, really! Even when we continue to hurt ourselves, what do our bodies do? They step up and go, “Uh-oh. Liver Damage, right side. Get in there, quick, heal it”.
Sometimes, we drink too much for too long, and the brain puts out a call: “Need to reset! Human dizzy, light-headed. Too much dopamine! Reset the brain. Must keep Human safe!” Physical alcohol dependence is only the brain trying to keep us safe and un-intoxicated. The brain adjusts to the high levels of Dopamine caused by the increased drinking and starts to produce less Dopamine naturally which causes the body to need alcohol to feel normal. The body was only trying to protect us.
Maybe we’ve felt very sad and want to cry. Then the brain speaks up, “Alert! Human sad! Get those tears moving through!” It’s still being researched but it’s believed that emotional tears besides prompting others for support, actually help the body as they contain proteins and hormones with relaxing or pain-relieving effects. At the very least most of us tend to feel better to some degree after a good cry.
If you ever watched Terminator 2 Judgment Day with Robert Patrick Jr. playing the T-1000 character, you will have seen that he appeared to be made of a liquid metal like mercury. His form just keeps healing no matter what they throw at it!
That’s what we humans are like! Well, not exactly …not quite to that extent, but sort of. These under-appreciated human bodies have this incredibly complex, miraculous ability to heal. Sadly, there are exceptions. But most of the time, when we damage ourselves drinking, these amazing human machines just keep healing us. These bodies want us healthy and happy.
Living Alcohol-Free is About a Life Well Lived
Until 14 months ago, I was drinking in an attempt to make myself happy. It seemed to work for a while. But is that what I really want? …to live life drugged without the freedom to choose the “when” and “what” of my happiness? I most definitely do not want that.
George Bernard Shaw wrote, “We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.” I liken this to drinking to feel happiness, though we have done nothing positive in which to be happy. I believe that true joy and happiness can be obtained only by real-life positive deeds, experiences, and accomplishments based on things like values, purpose, acceptance, compassion, imagination, and love.
I’ve chosen to stop hurting myself. These amazing, self-healing, miraculous human machines called bodies have been bestowed on us and are designed to care for us and keep us surviving, loving ourselves, and living our lives.
I am grateful for this life I was born into and this body that never let me down even when I was drinking to excess and behaving as if I could care less about our health and welfare. I plan on expressing my gratitude for as long as I’m able to continue to care for my physical, mental, and emotional health. I will learn and use the sober coping skills available to me, and I will do my best to eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep. This body has cared for me all of these years through thick and through thin. I will not subject it to any more of that poison called alcohol.
Life is not about feeling happy every minute of our lives. That’s just not realistic and sounds rather boring. To me, it is about a life well lived. My understanding of a life well lived is experiencing not just happiness but a whole spectrum of feelings. It’s about the pursuit of all things that will fulfill me in my lifetime, and that means being there for loved ones and being the best I can be.
Living Alcohol Free, I can achieve all of that. Will you join me?
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