Just because you think it, does not make it so

10 Apr

10:59 am

It’s been almost a week since I last posted, but I’m doing well. Great, actually. It’s been a whole week since I dumped that “temptation bottle” of wine down the kitchen sink, along with the rest of the booze in my house–and frankly, I’ve barely thought about drinking let alone wanted to drink. Day 23, and rocking it.

For a work project, lately I’ve been reading about the neuroscience of addiction. My, oh, my, how our shit gets fucked up. NO WONDER it takes us so long to heal. And here we are, blaming and hating on ourselves. Dude, the wolf voice is real.

I went camping yesterday, and a friend met us down on the beach. We got to talking about drugs and booze and he said that his ex-wife (now deceased from complications of alcoholism, sadly–she was like, mid-50s?) used to get drunk on the way to the restaurant. Like, literally, her personality would change as they were driving, before she even got near the first glass. He said he had friends who would experience the symptoms of being high–like vomiting; kind of hard to fake that–en route to get the heroin. He said they had to pull the car over for the guy to throw up onto the side of the road, miles before their pickup point!

I, for one, have found that my cravings don’t mean I really want to drink. I THINK I want to drink, but I don’t. I have experienced the feeling of being high on wine, of having my mood swing totally UP–all by thinking about, anticipating drinking. In the articles I’ve read, these reward circuits ARE, in fact, firing; the problem is, they’ve become sensitized to different amounts of neurotransmitters and different mental stimuli, let’s just say, so their firing isn’t associated with a healthy reward or a moderate amount of reward. For instance, every time I sit down and watch a movie, I want to drink. Every time I unfold my chair on the beach, I want to drink. My brain is associating these events with drinking, and bam, my reward circuits start firing.

I also read a piece where the gist of it was, there are different circuits (i.e., chemicals and neurons) for want/desire and reward/pleasure. Like, I can want to drink, but the pleasure derived from this is different than the so-called pleasure from actually drinking. Which might explain how I can feel my mood shift simply by thinking about how nice it would be to have a glass of wine. (I wonder if this applies to the whole, Absence makes the heart grow fonder, adage? 😉 )

The problem is, it’s not real.

The solution I’ve found is, let it keep happening until it doesn’t! And, miraculously, it STOPS HAPPENING. Or, it happens less, and less powerfully. Or, you learn to ignore it. Or, your brain simply starts to right itself, and dials those circuits back down to normal.

We spent all day Monday and Monday night on the beach. Back in the day (is it really in the past?) I’d feel nervous about “being trapped” in front of that much time, with no wine to escape to. I KNEW I would feel trapped, like I couldn’t breathe, having to just sit there and be; and it would make me dread going or doing things that involved just sitting and being.

Sit there and be? Without feeling irritable, trapped, anxious? NO WAY. Yet…I did it! Or, it did me. I not only had very few cravings, but there were points along the way where I felt just as high/drunk as I might have felt if I had actually drunk. Of course, better: all the happy and contentment and none of the confused descent into madness.

I was also able to just sit there and stare at the night sky. WITHOUT feeling like I wanted to interrupt the process, or disrupt it with a drink. I could sit there and just be. Wow. Who would have thought it possible?

THIS is what I’m talking about when I say the cravings “subside” after a few months. Now, more than ever, I can “see” my brain at work, and use my knowledge to defend myself against the urges, cravings, thoughts of drinkin’. They are not real. And, incredulous as it may seem to us as we embark on parting ways with alcohol, they go away. The mind rights itself. Maybe not completely, and maybe not exactly the way I’ve described, but the thoughts come less, the associative thinking dies down, and we’re left with something we haven’t seen in a long, long time: a flat terrain that is our mind, a blank canvas tethered at the ends of a solid frame that is our brain. Both are like the surface of the water on a windless day. And, my, how long we’ve waited for that calm.

So, onward. Day 23 and…not really counting. I mean, I don’t think it’ll really start to be all that exciting until day 90 again, maybe. Who knows? At the moment, I’m not really thinking how “nice” it’d be to have a glass of wine. I know it wouldn’t be “nice,” and I know the next three days (shit, let’s put it at a week, who am I kidding?) wouldn’t be “nice.” And frankly, by the time I get to this point in the thought process, my brain has given up and I’ve forgotten about the craving.

Just because you think it, does not make it so.

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23 Responses to “Just because you think it, does not make it so”

  1. spitfire6 April 10, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    I think drinking is often a habit & habits are a bitch to break. The book “The Power of Habit” goes along with what you’re saying.

    Great post & blog!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl April 13, 2013 at 3:30 am #

      Yes, yes, yes they are! Arg. How did I get myself into this habit? The thing I know for sure is, if I got myself in, I can get myself out! Thanks for reading…xx

  2. Lisa Neumann April 10, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    “use my knowledge to defend myself against the urges, cravings, thoughts of drinkin’. They are not real. And, incredulous as it may seem to us as we embark on parting ways with alcohol, they go away. The mind rights itself.” ….. I ADORE, actually TRULY CRAVE to read these words. So, so, true. While I no longer do the “drinkin” thing, I am still acquiring knowledge to grow through other areas in my life. Going to pass this post along to a few “friends.” Good stuff. TY

  3. Belle (Tired2012) April 10, 2013 at 4:13 pm #

    please may you rock onwards, right where you are now – just for longer. and may you continue to discover and share your genius. and will you please please kick wolfie in the balls when you see him. from all of us.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl April 13, 2013 at 3:27 am #

      Hahaha. Oh, I will do more than that! I have my unicorn posted outside my door–even gave her a horn sharpener–just in case wolfie-boy comes knocking. Heart. You rock! *honk honk*

  4. mysterygirlloveshernewlife April 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm #

    With all of your lengthy strings of sober days (weeks/months/milestones) you seem to keep on getting wiser and wiser 🙂 I can relate to how much it SUCKS to start the counting again…BUT…I am really trying to focus on feeling the growth and what we can learn from our experiences instead of the suffering and self-imposed battering that only we could do to ourselves. You, my friend, are doing the same, but even more so, and I just love all that you had to say. Oh. And you ROCK!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl April 13, 2013 at 3:25 am #

      Thank you!!! Such a lovely comment. YES, we do rock. And, yes, starting the count over is a bummer, but it was the only way for me. I had to see, I had to slip. Now, and only now, do I feel OK with 180 more days (that’s the goal anyway). And, the longer I go, the more I empathize with myself, and stop the self-imposed battering, like you say. We’re doing all right, Mystery Girl. We got this! xx

  5. itsforlent April 10, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    Great blog…. Day 2

  6. New Sober Life April 10, 2013 at 10:49 pm #

    This can be applied to so many things in life! I love it when you can just sit and enjoy being. Great post, thank you!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl April 13, 2013 at 3:20 am #

      YES! I’m still working at getting that ability back, but it’s worth the effort. I can say that I honestly don’t EVER want to be back where I was, and have to go through this again. Thanks for reading. xx

  7. Carrie April 10, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    Wonderful, brilliant and thought provoking! Thank you. We HAVE waited so long for this calm. Isn’t it just wonderful and how we deserve it. I have a month and previously did 90 days too, but am feeling so at home with it this time, I know that I need to be cautious but having been there then back again, I know something is different this time. Here’s to many more happy sober days, that’s all that counts!
    Carrie

    • Drunky Drunk Girl April 13, 2013 at 3:19 am #

      YES. It’s true, isn’t it? “At home” is how I feel, too. And, that “calm” is something I want to explore further–I have the feeling that THAT is what is going to keep getting bigger, better, and fuller. I’m so relieved, I guess, after almost a year on and off (guess I’m a slow learner!) to finally want to be sober and do things sober rather than not. Happy sober days, indeed. xx

  8. themiracleisaroundthecorner April 11, 2013 at 1:50 am #

    Dear DDG, I am so happy for you, and so glad to hear you are well. It sounds like you have taken your different sober times, along with your non-sober times, and wrung as much wisdom as you could from each experience! I look forward to reading your continuing journey.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl April 13, 2013 at 3:16 am #

      I’m always trying, maybe too hard (lol), to learn from this experience. Thanks for you comment!!! xx

  9. Mrs D April 11, 2013 at 7:43 am #

    Great to hear you are doing well and loving that grey matter of yours stretching and groaning and soaking up loads of good info and understanding and realization, and thanks for sharing it with us. Love your posting xxx

  10. mariusgustaitis April 11, 2013 at 7:46 am #

    You go, girl. Nine years now, and it keeps getting better. No bullshit. I don’t do that. Would never lie to one of my people. Yes, it undulates up and down, but the line climbs ever upwards. The only thing in life I loved was drinking. Now I love everything else. Not too much of a gyp.
    Hang in there.
    Let go.
    Yeah, that’s right. At the same time.
    You’ll get the hang of it.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl April 13, 2013 at 3:14 am #

      REALLY? REALLY? I’ve been slowly but surely creeping up out of that mentality of “nothing–and sometimes it really feels like nothing–can excite me at all except wine.” I’m actually feeling like doing things again, instead of having to force myself, but… Anyway, yes, hang and let go. Thanks for the comment…xx

  11. carrythemessage April 11, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    Damn fine post, DDG. I think it’s my favourite yet from you. You *get* a lot of what is going on with you, and which happens to all of us. I think that is the kind of thing I was talking about when I wrote about triggers last week. It’s the associations you talked about – that part of the brain already fired up, and seeking that drink. But they are thoughts, and those synapses can and do get redirected. It just takes time. it takes time to sit in the uncomfortableness like you did and just *be*. We see its not the end of the world. We get through it. We do it again, and it all become a part of smashing the old ways of thinking and doing. And for this cat, I need to do other things to keep my mind righted – working with others, being of service, getting out of my own head, getting to meetings, etc. But there is such a wonderful amount to mine from your post there. Loved it. Perfect for where you are…and it will help a lot of people understand what is going on in the ol’ melon. Thank you.

    Blessings
    Paul

    • Drunky Drunk Girl April 13, 2013 at 2:56 am #

      I totally feel you on the fact that there are other things I can and WILL, once I’m ready, do to get out of my head when the cravings hit.

      And, I loved this line you wrote, because it’s so scientifically valid:
      “that part of the brain already fired up, and seeking that drink.”

      YES. It really is the case that there are other areas of the brain that are firing IN ORDER to propel us to drink; the parts that “want” instead of the parts that say “hey, this makes me feel good.” What’s curious to me is, these circuits keep making us “want” long after drinking no longer makes us feel good.

      Thanks for your wonderful comment; appreciate your reading my blog and being there for everyone! xx

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