Change is hard. Most of us associate change with control. Controlling our appetites. Controlling our impulses. Ten or so years ago, when I found myself desperate to stop drinking, the first book I reached for was Allen Carr’s Easyway to Control Alcohol.
Those Big Letters across the front
That book did not do what I hoped. I stopped drinking for a day after reading it and then started up again the next. But I do recommend reading Allen Carr if you are trying to stop drinking. He certainly changed the way I saw alcohol. I just wasn’t able to control my alcohol then or ever. If I drink, alcohol controls me.
I don’t have control and that’s OK ! I can choose to not drink !
What I do have is a will to change, to fight, to reach for the best life that I can reach for and to define that myself. That’s the key for me really. Defining MY LIFE, not expecting to be able to control what’s going on around me or needing to please others but to define myself. To FIGHT for what I NEED and to KNOW what I WANT and to stay aware and keep evolving.
There is absolutely nothing easy about that. But as they say … “Nothing worth having is easy”
Many of us grew up in families where alcohol was abused or we were abused or both. Many of us grew up with people who had given up. Who felt powerless. Who were angry or sad or defeated- Many of us did not have role models to become what we want to become. We didn’t have role models of adults who were comfortable in their own skin.
Growing up under circumstances of instability or insecurity, growing up afraid, growing up in an environment where the adults around you do not face their fears can leave you needing to control. It can leave you afraid to be vulnerable and needing to control chaos, which for some of us means Not Feel .
We drink to numb. Sometimes numbing the good is as tempting as numbing the bad. Feeling your feelings, knowing yourself on a deep level, evolving, growing, loving truly and deeply … it is absolutely the most spectacular gift! But only you can give it to yourself. And it requires letting yourself be vulnerable and work. Daily work.
I’ve been doing that work these past four and a half alcohol-free years by writing and writing and writing my way out of the bottle and back to myself.
You can break free. You can change. You can reinvent yourself. You have one life only. It’s up to you.
I read a great little post in the Fix about how to do find a safe island in the open sea of vulnerability that early sobriety was for me. It is a post that outlines a simple discipline that fits so well with the necessary patience involved in saving your life, rebuilding your life, loving your life… changing one day at a time by facing the chaos without numbing your fear.
The Title is Making a List … here’s an excerpt. It’s a great little post and well worth a read
“I saved my life today by doing the dishes. Then I did the laundry and got groceries and paid bills….. The sense of accomplishment of checking off a task compounds daily. It makes me feel like I have a life like I’m ‘getting it together’ and some days it keeps me from falling into the depths of depression. I have had moments in my life, where suicide has been a real consideration so anything that keeps me from falling into depression saves my life.
Today I have been in enormous fear about what’s next for me in my life; so I looked at my list. Laundry was at the top, so it got started.” —- Read Full Article Here
Daily work. Change. Control – start with a simple daily list
One of the reasons that people feel raw and exposed and vulnerable when they stop drinking is that their brains haven’t learned how to shoot out that “feel good” chemical dopamine without the alcohol key in the ignition. But writing that list and checking things off is the beginning of retraining your brain to feel good naturally!
“Dopamine increases when we are organized and finish tasks – regardless if the task is small or large. So, don’t allow your brain to worry about things that need to be done. Instead, write these tasks down and then check them off one at a time. It’s been shown that it’s more satisfying to the brain’s dopamine levels when we physically check something off of our to-do list.” from 10 Ways you can release Dopamine in the Brain without Medication
The hardest thing for me about stopping drinking was the vulnerability I felt when I removed the coping mechanism I had used my entire adult life, but, it is allowing that very vulnerability that enables change. Opening myself to knowing that I could not control alcohol. That I could not control my external world. That I could not control chaos. But that I could choose to NOT drink and that was enough to start the process of breaking free.
If your drinking too much too often and have been wanting to stop, start with a simple goal. At the top of your list write “don’t drink today” and if that is the one thing you achieve today be PROUD because that is the beginning of breaking free. That is the beginning of fighting for you. Reach out and we’ll help.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.”
― Brene Brown
I will not be drinking today .
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