Lately, I’ve been reading posts–and remembering my own thinking circles–about the thinking that COMES WITH drinking (to excess).
You know what I’m talking about, and many of you (us) have told and continue to tell ourselves that we’re fucked up, or it’s our fault, or it’s somehow PART OF US.
IT IS NOT. It’s part of drinking; it’s part of addiction. Remove the drinking and you remove the “drinking thinking.” For me, it began to disappear around 15 months (of mostly continuous sobriety).
I mean, the thoughts of guilt, of shame, of remorse. The sheer obsession with how much we drink, drank, or drunk. No matter how much we drink now–could be a glass, a bottle, two–we feel bad about doing so. Like, really bad. Like, telling everyone and their uncle how sorry we are that we drank. NO ONE CARES. Believe me, no one is getting why we are “so upset.” We get it, because we’ve drunk to embarrassing, mind-mutilating excess a million times before. We get it, because we’ve endured hangovers that come with face-erasing (literally, once I could not feel my face for about 15 minutes) panic attacks in the local drug store, in the middle of the street, at our desks at work, on long drives up the coast. They do not get that, but we do.
Is it real, this guilt, this paranoia that the world will “find us out?” Yes. Is it “part of us?” NO!
I mean, the ruminations on how much of a shit we are, a failure, inept, incompetent. That’s the booze talking. That’s the alcohol working its magic on our neurons.
I mean, the obsession with “getting sober,” the idea that EVERYONE gets sober because it’s a life-threatening prospect, to keep drinking. That, too, is the booze wending its way into our circuits, and staying there because we can’t imagine that our brains will ever flush it all out. As if we are damaged for life. I was talking to someone the other day who hasn’t touched a drink in 20 years. I was like, Oh, so…DID YOU GET SOBER? Hushed whisper on my part. A look of confusion, a blank stare on his. No, he said, I just felt better not drinking.
Not everyone gets sober; some people just stop drinking. Not everyone deals with this depressive, anxious, self-berating thinking that evolves as we become alcoholics. YES, BECOME. We are not “born” drunks. We develop a problem; we become alcoholics; we engage with our tendency to feel bad, but the booze makes that tendency come out a million times worse. Not everyone feels guilty about saying crass things while drunk. Not everyone feels bad about picking fights. We not only feel really bad, but we ruminate on this, and continue to pick it apart until, well, we drink again SO THAT WE CAN FORGET.
These thoughts become us, but they are not us. And, as I’ve seen–and I think I’m as good an example as anyone, though there are some out there who would say I’m not a “real alcoholic”–these thoughts go. The circular thinking subsides. The guilt dissipates. You begin to see that what you did, well, you did. But, you can move on. You stop saying you’re sorry because…well, your thinking gets clearer. Less depressive, less anxious, less circular, less ruminative and prone to overanalyzing.
Anyway, I have a bunch of work to do today, but just wanted to check in. I’ve got about a week to go until my one year anniversary, but I’m not really whoop-whooping what to me has simply become about living–not “living sober.” More on that in another post.