I wrote this Saturday (day 163), it’s now Monday.
This week we traveled back to Iowa to see friends, and family, and pack up my kid to bring him back to Phoenix. On the first day of this trip I had a job interview and the second day of this trip I accepted a job offer. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind of time and emotions. Sunday I fly back home to start my new job on Monday. It’s all very exciting but it has also highlighted the sobriety in a lot of ways.
In the past I have been notorious for celebrating everything with cocktails, and I do mean everything. Wins and losses became a reason to drink. I know I’m not the only one. Just a quick look at Facebook reveals a cocktail/wine/beer update about every third post. Everything is a reason to drink lately. Bad day = drink, good day = drink, medium day = drink. I’ll admit it was a bit of a challenge in the beginning to know how to celebrate the wins, but after some time I realized that it’s okay to say “that’s awesome” and then move on with my life. I don’t feel the need to grab a drink just because I got a job. I know that previously this job offer would have meant; job offer = drink, offer letter = drink, first day = drink, first paycheck = drink. I do not exaggerate here! Any excuse.
Here is what I find funniest about all of that. We drink to celebrate, or not celebrate, which reduces our emotions. We are making ourselves numb to the wins and the losses. We numb for everything. It’s like we feel an emotion so that is a reason to drink. We drink because we feel.
Feeling ALL of the emotions was the hardest part of getting sober. Those first few weeks were full of feelings. So many feelings. I didn’t know what to do with it all. I wasn’t sure how to handle them. I’m slowly learning. I still do numbing and different ways of coping but now it’s much more productive and healthy. Running. That’s my numbing agent now.
Learning how to deal with my emotions when I’ve numbed for several years has been tricky. Don’t get me wrong, it has been hard, but I’m so glad I’m learning how to do this. Learning how to feel is an essential part of being an adult. When we numb to everything those emotions and feelings come up so when we can’t numb and we have no idea how to handle it. I would blow up. My emotions were out of control when I was drinking or not drinking. I never really handled them without booze so they seemed to magnify like someone was holding a magnifying glass over me and burning me with my own emotions.
Not drinking doesn’t rule you out of the numbing category. We all do it. We all have our thing that stops us from feeling. Facebook? Which is weird because it makes me feel all the bad things. Rarely good things, but it has a way of sucking up time so there is less room for feeling. Sugar. Prosac. Xanax. Comfort food. Running. I don’t know why we are always running away from our feelings. It’s OKAY to feel things. It’s okay to be sad, mad, hurt, or happy. It is what makes us human and our ability to relate to others who have those feelings is important too.
I don’t have answers about the right way to feel or deal. It’s all up to individuals, but I do know not feeling is not helping anyone. Awareness is a great way to start. Paying attention to how we feel and what we do next. Replacing the negative coping with positive actions. Doing things that make us feel like celebrating the win is worth celebrating the win.