triggers.

I don’t know why I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about triggers. I think that because I’ve been an almost daily drinker for so long that I figured I don’t really have specific triggers- unless, of course, you count everything as a trigger. I do recall having a conversation with a counsellor once about it and my list of triggers was something like: friday and saturday night; or just 6pm on any given night; sunshine; rainy days; being social; being alone; being sad; being happy… so, pretty much any emotion, event, circumstance or situation. Great. How am I supposed to avoid EVERYTHING. Seems pretty overwhelming so perhaps that’s why I haven’t given it too much thought.

But I’ve had 6 days sober in a row now, and I’m feeling pretty strong and determined, and I haven’t really felt much like drinking. I’ve also had to take the bus across town to my new job for the last 4 days, and I’ve had some time to think. I’ve started to hone in on the times when drinking starts to seem like a good idea, or when wolfie starts to bark. Beyond the usual witching hour (which I think can just be attributed plain and simply to habit), the moments when I’ve thought about drinking have definitely been in connection to some kind of emotional pain. A couple of days this week I’ve been stressed out at work and I can feel this pressure building up inside of me. I’ve just started a new job, and it’s busy, fast-paced, & serious. I’m new and I’m learning the ropes and I have a lot of responsibility. A few times my confidence has been shaken. Almost immediately my mind has gone to thinking about drinking- wolfie tells me that alcohol will relieve the pressure. I’ve been observing my mind with some kind of a distance and luckily this week I’ve been able to notice what happens and also tell myself that there are other ways- healthier, happier and more effective ways- to deal with stress and difficult emotions. And, here’s the kicker, it’s worked. I’ve managed my stress in other ways. I’ve read sober blogs (this is a big one right now for me), I’ve talked to friends, I’ve watched shows, I’ve read, I’ve stretched, I’ve gotten outside, I’ve cooked, I’ve eaten (well and not so well). I’ve drank a lot of tea. I’ve gone to bed early.

Is this what “normal” people do? I’ve never really wanted to be normal. Sounds kinda boring to me. But maybe normies are on to something, after all. (I use the word “normal” in jest, really, I don’t really believe in the concept).

Right now what is also keeping me from drinking is that I am so fucking tired of the cycle of drinking drinking drinking hungover hungover hungover quit quit quit repeat repeat repeat… I just don’t think I have it in me anymore. I am so tired of wasting days being hungover. I am so tired of being disappointed in myself. I am so tired of watching myself slowly become unhealthy sluggish depressed. Something had to give. I’ve tried many times to get sober over the last year and a half or so. Thats when I really started to try to quit. I had tried to moderate before and stopped for little periods of time but never with the intention of quitting for good. About a year and a half ago I started to take it a bit more seriously and look for help. I’ve read so many books on the subject of addiction, been to AA meetings, been to SMART recovery meetings, talked to counsellors, etc…

But you know, a person isn’t going to quit until they are really really ready to. And it’s different for everyone. I know that for the last year and a half I’ve been searching for what is going to work for me; what my path to recovery is. And I am really starting to feel like I’m on to something here. I don’t want to get ahead of myself and I’m not closing off any other options, but I do feel that sober blogging is something big for me. I feel a part of something here, even though I’ve only just begun. Reading peoples blogs every morning has been so inspiring to me and I want what others are writing about. I am catching glimpses of it- seeing more clearly, feeling less tired, sick and depressed, getting excited and curious about the possibilities of my life sober.

What’s interesting to me that it took me about a year and a half to quit smoking for good… I quit almost 9 years ago and it was a similar battle. I tried lots of different ways and eventually one way worked (reading Allan Carr’s Easy Way to Stop Smoking- but I had to read it twice). What’s similar is that when I actually quit smoking I wanted to quit SO BAD. I was so tired of stopping and starting and pretty much just fed up and disgusted with myself. When I was really mentally ready to quit, I actually found it fairly easy. I got myself in the right mind frame. And I think that’s what is happening with quitting drinking too, it’s about getting yourself in the right mindset (kicking wolfie right out of the brain) so that quitting seems like the bestest and most desirable solution. I know Allan Carr has a stop drinking book, I’ve read it and it worked for a bit… but to me drinking and smoking are very different vices. So with drinking I know that I actually need some kind of social and community support with it. Anyways, this is a long post, so I’ll stop now. I’m just happy to be here and have found other people going through the same thing as me. And I just wanted to share that it’s possible to manage moods, stress, and triggers in other ways. Yay!

 

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6 thoughts on “triggers.

  1. You’re doing great! The way you’re thinking everything through is so helpful in keeping yourself sober. You really are onto something with blogging I think. For me, it’s been the place where I’ve recorded the highs and lows, the pain of relapses and eternally reminder why I can’t drink. Stick around- the blogging community is lovely 🙂

    • Thanks!! Writing that post last night was healing for me. Just getting the thoughts out. There’s a lot more in me that I want to share and there’s something about admitting “in public” to how I’ve felt and what I’ve experienced while drinking, and not drinking, that feels very healing to me. And I loooove reading about others experiences. So inspiring and helpful.

  2. that did make me laugh when you said, “how am I supposed to avoid EVERYTHING?!” and yes, I definitely felt that when i was drinking I used it as a plaster on EVERY feeling. you being able to give yourself that space to observe the urge as it comes up and identify it is brilliant, well done! and great that you are finding other ways to manage stress!

    • It’s crazy, right? Every emotion or occasion becomes an excuse to drink. It’s amazing how I let myself get there. SOOO glad to have a bit of space from it right now. I don’t want to go back there.

  3. Ayup, everything. I think especially if you’ve been drinking a while, and the disease has got to the point where you’re choosing to drink alone rather than socialise (so you don’t have to moderate, self edit, worry about getting me, and can just obliterate), then avoiding triggers Is almost nonsense. What, are you going to move house?

    Having said that,though staying out of the house to my very limited ability (I have very small children) did help in the first week. Swimming in the evenings, running errands, all of that. It’s an interesting exercise in its own right, trying to think of something to do, that you have never done before, and I think it’s good to do even if you’re not giving up drinking. Would that work for you? A list of things that you’ve never done and want to?

    • Hi afteralcohol, that is a great suggestion. I did make a list of that sort about a year and a half ago, I think, so I’ll try to track it down. I definitely need to amp up my hobbies. One thing that’s been frustrating over the last month and I think has contributed to my starting and stopping is that I injured my back. So I’ve been unable to do any physical activity besides walking. My plan quitting drinking was to get back into my yoga practice and start running again, plus also swimming (I re-discovered the recreation centre last summer! Haven’t been to one since I was a kid. There’s a gym, pool, hot tub, sauna, running track, all for the drop-in price of $5. Best 5 bucks I’ve ever spent!). My back is slowly getting better but I’m reluctant to do too much for fear of re-injuring it. I’m actually about to head out now for a walk and might try a little bit of running, if it feels okay.
      Anyhoodles, making a list of things I want to do/haven’t done is an awesome idea. A quit-drinking bucket list! 🙂 BTW, I really enjoy your blog! Keep in touch.

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