Before I stopped drinking alcohol one of my greatest anxieties was that of wondering how people perceived me. That no matter what I have done or achieved in my life it would be overshadowed by the persona of a person that drank too much alcohol and acted erratically when they drank it.
That ultimately this person was being viewed by others as ‘who I am.’
I can’t tell you how much this tortured me. I used to muse over this often and it caused me great anxiety.
Stopping myself from drinking alcohol was so very difficult for me to do at first because it was masking the real problems. It didn’t take me long to realise that for me it wasn’t that I was simply addicted to alcohol – it was much deeper than that.
Alcohol was not the only thing I was dealing with.
The real issue was that I wanted and thought I needed alcohol’s effect because it helped to cover up the root of my problems.
Alcohol was the drug I had chosen to help me deal with and cope with the thoughts in my head – and there was a direct connection between my thoughts and my actions
The overthinking, the covering up of historic hurts, the anxieties felt, the self-deprecating thoughts, the cognitive distortions and catastrophising.
Cognitive distortions means that at times I have repetitive, negative, troubling and unpleasant thoughts and I can ‘blow them up’ completely out of proportion.
Catastrophising can lead to me expecting the worse to happen. Focusing on the negatives instead of the positives.
By me not having any skills to deflect the cognitive distortions and catastrophising it was all too easy for them to have a terribly negative effect on my mood which in turn led to me choosing to do unhealthy things so I could block them – so I drank alcohol.
At first I had to fully commit to not drinking alcohol and that was the only thing I focused on for a long time after joining the site.
This time I was absolutely determined to stick to staying AF and was not going to let me or the other members of the site down by drinking alcohol.
Slowly as the days, months and years passed the reasons for me drinking alcohol appeared in my head in the form of thoughts, emotions and feelings.
I faced my demons and tried to find methods and ways to face them head on without using alcohol – to find other ways to cope.
I have had to face ‘who I am’ and be accepting of times when I couldn’t – and sometimes still can’t – change things. Sometimes it was exhausting and my emotions were labile at times, but I trusted the members before me who told me to keep going.
In the times when I could not seem to control my anxieties I protected myself by slowing down, by not being the one that everyone relies on, by avoiding stressful situations, by using distraction techniques and self care.
My life is not perfect and it never will be because like everyone’s life it has its ups and downs. But it’s my life now to live as I choose – alcohol does not have any power to control me anymore.
If you’re reading this thinking ‘I’ll bet she wasn’t that bad believe me I was.
I have never forgotten the anxiety, fear, self-loathing, and feeling of isolation that alcohol caused in my life. I truly never thought I could do this until the day I told myself enough was enough and stuck to it.
I grabbed this promise of freedom and although it was very hard at first my life is unrecognisable to what it was before – so incredibly better without alcohol in it. I don’t miss it or ever want it back in my life. I have not woken a single day since I stopped drinking alcohol without being happy about my lifestyle choice.
All your life you may have run away from the pain inside that you carry and not faced it head on.
You can make this the day you stop running.
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This post was written by Zoo. You’ll find more of her writing on Boozemusings here :
And More Reading From Others on our Boozemusings Blog