Over Labor Day weekend, I thoughtlessly stepped into a situation that was full-on triggering for me (not unpredictably so, but I neglected to predict it anyway). This is not a tale of triumph — I promptly drank, all three days in a row.
It took me by surprise, and left me feeling rather defeated. I’ve been quite proud of how significantly I’ve changed my drinking habits, and especially of how much I have resisted drinking in response to stress. And then, in the face of some fairly predictable life events, I reverted straight back to old coping mechanisms. Oh, I engaged in plenty of harm reduction, because moderation has taught me very useful lessons, but it was still exactly the kind of drinking I really wanted to be able to say I don’t do anymore. Not in quantity, but in terms of trying to use alcohol to “fix” things (real life problems, my feelings, etc.).
Taking a deep breath and a step back, I think the pattern has been there all along. Which makes sense, of course — I spent years reaching for a drink when life threw sharp edges at me, and the habit isn’t gone just because I’ve been working on some better habits for a few months. Not only that, but massively reducing my drinking has not magically fixed everything in my life…still lots of things to handle, and I’m not always going to do so gracefully, I guess.
Curiously, I actually drank less than I did while on vacation, but it hit a lot harder. Maybe that’s because it was three days in a row, and certainly I was less careful about hydrating with plenty of water, but I think it is just as likely to be because of the underlying triggering emotions. Whatever the mix of contributing factors, today I feel tired, blue, and also a bit like I want another drink.
I’ve written before about my difficulty handling failure; this is a good example. I’m over-reacting emotionally, and I can recognize it, but I still find myself wanting to add more over-reactions on top of it. I want to stop blogging (because I don’t want to write here, or elsewhere, unless I also have a plan to fix everything); I want to commit to some sort of penance or punishment; mostly, I want to craft a narrative that shows that I still know what I’m doing.
What I’m trying to do instead is accept that I just feel crappy today, and let it be. I know the next steps: no drinking today (or for the foreseeable future, at least until my emotional balance reasserts itself and I can assess things in a reasonable frame of mind), just take care of myself. Small, practical things, like exercise & drinking plenty of water.