Today was unseasonably warm and sunny for January. The sun was glinting off my floors and warming every room and the temperature hinted at spring far too early. A tease of a thought that it would be nice to open a couple windows. The air smelled like earth and not like snow and salt.
As nice as it was, it turns out a sunny weekend is a hidden drinking trigger. Something about the sun shining, the warm air and bright cheery rooms makes me crave the temptation to which I would so often cave. My mind makes promises and my addiction claims nothing would improve a nice day like a drink, or five. If I chose to turn up the volume on those whispers and follow them to the liquor store, it would eventually become too late for me to realize that drinking hadn’t delivered any of those alluring moments.
Some days are easy to continue on with this choice I’ve made and the reasons why I’ve made it. They go by quickly and with excitement at clarity and unhindered emotional processing. It almost seems natural. Like this choice isn’t hard work at all. Yet there are some, like today, where the draw of a drink jumps around the corner like someone playing a prank where they’re trying to scare you. The feeling is the same. Suddenly, there you are, caught off guard and scrambling to adjust with the moment. Unsure of what just happened.
I literally and wistfully imagined the feel of a beer bottle in my hands. That warmth that a shot of whiskey spreads through my chest as it hits. The natural feel of a wine glass in my hand, like armor against the world. The sunny day felt like a puzzle nearing completion and my reliance on alcohol told me the last few pieces weren’t lost, they were in a bottle. I knew if I drank, I’d regret it. I knew I’d feel awful and tired and would not be the mom I would like to be if I gave in.
I realize that some of my draw to drink is the restlessness I feel on weekends. I’m a high strung creature of habit and required stimulation. All this free time that’s supposed to be when I decompress and I mostly end up unsure of what to do with myself. Drinking was always what I did to find a purpose or meet an undefined requirement. It literally let me feel like I had given the day a reason to exist. As entirely messed up as that sounds, that’s the truth of my reliance on it.
Because of my clear mind, I was able to identify that some of my cravings were because I have anxiety about going into the coming week. Some of which is just simply that it’s going to be a regular week after all the holiday time. It leaves me discombobulated; my mind in a panic that I won’t be good enough. At anything. At life, at my job, with friends, as though this derailment of schedule has left me only a portion of a person. It makes me want to hide under a blanket of security that drinking used to seem like it was giving me. But sobriety has made me realize that blanket was itchy and full of holes.
As I battled these thoughts today, as I thought about what it would feel like to have just one, I knew that it wouldn’t go that way. One would lead to two, which would lead to more and suddenly I’d realize I was chasing it all away again. The cycle would begin and the next day would be full of guilt I would be prone to eliminate by muddying my thoughts with another ethanol high.
I get frustrated that I have this permanent struggle to endure. Again, I fear friends seeing me as delicate or unable to accept that some people can drink without issue. A funny drinking gif in a text conversation makes them second guess whether it’s insensitive to me. Which, it’s not. At least not for me. For some in recovery it might be, and I’m lucky to have friends who ask to make sure. But this battle is mine and while it might be similar to some it’s still unique to me. I’m self aware enough to know that my propensity for unhealthy drinking doesn’t mean my friend’s beer is a problem. My functional alcoholism doesn’t translate to any other drinker having the same unhealthy relationship with a shot glass.
The anxiety I felt today was like that feeling you get after you find a bug crawling on you. You remove it, but you can’t stop feeling those little legs. Your hair brushing your neck has you jumping out of your seat. I wanted to numb it out of existence. On this warm, sunny day I had to do what I had been far too cocky about not needing to do a few days prior. I had to reach out. I had to tell someone I was struggling. I chose a sober friend because I still reside in the mindset that too much leaning on those who don’t share the battle will make me a burden. I know better. But I also knew I needed that similar mindset to walk me out of the tunnel I was heading toward.
I had to process my anxiety and face it and determine the true origin of it. What I needed to do to break it into smaller pieces so it wasn’t quite so smothering. While I may not have embraced the day and the sun as fully as I would have liked due to the battle raging in my head, I stayed sober. I appreciated the sun without feeling out of control. I didn’t need a nap because I had drank too much, too fast. I didn’t over eat because I was riddled with alcohol fueled cravings and blind appetite. I won’t wake up tomorrow full of regret, or bloated or wondering what that last text said.
I’m going to have to do this for the rest of my life and I’d be lying if I didn’t say that I was frustrated about that. I get overwhelmed and angry that it seems like it’s always something holding me back or weighing on me or making me blatantly dislike myself. While that’s daunting, it’s giving me the ability to finally figure out what I’ve always been running from. As I get through this next uphill climb, I realize that drinking has always been at the core of my poorly chosen coping mechanisms and the fuel to my other struggles. But I made it normal. I made it acceptable for myself. I made it a joke, while really it was helping to fan the fire of everything else negative or unhealthy.
From my early understanding, my acceptance of that will transition to further physiological healing. My obsession with drinking will diminish and I may find a new normal where sunny days aren’t quite so daunting and are simply just beautiful days. Where I don’t need the feel of a bottle to feel normal.
So for me, this is my last battle towards claiming myself. For making myself whole solely through my own work and dedication.
For finding the ability to simply just be, no matter the weather.