It’s not sexy.
And it’s not exciting.
You won’t see it on the cover of a magazine.
But you’ve arrived at this place for a reason.
Whether you’re new to alcohol and addiction recovery, and feeling….raw.
Or, even if you’re a stalwart at local meetings and have been in recovery for 40 years.
Alcohol came into your life for a reason.
You fell off life’s bike at one point. And now, you’re relearning how to find that balance.
Sometimes, with the training wheels on. That’s ok.
For me, alcohol recovery came in fits and starts. I initially spoke about rehab with Edinburgh Rehab Centre and went into treatment.
Initially – joyous celebration, and a sense of the euphoric, when I came across one of life’s obstacles, and realised I could in fact overcome it without drunken excess. (No-one was more surprised than me).
It was only a long time after, when I had the calm and presence of mind to review things in retrospect, I began to truly learn what the experience had to teach me.
Learning From The Past
In this later stage of recovery, the real rewards come. You have the peace and awareness to work through, many of the old issues, at a calm pace, and with much more support around.
A friend used to say, where we have an extreme event in life, something that actually threatens our life, it’s God’s way of nudging us toward balance again.
In some way, that we can’t consciously perceive, we’ve gone off one end of the spectrum in our life, to such an extreme, that in desperation to hold on to the status quo, and fear of what might come out if we don’t – we hold on to one way to deal with it – at all costs.
And maybe God perceives, that the only way to move someone in that position on, is to give them an extreme experience – an experience that will move them towards change – and growth.
It’s not until we’ve stopped drinking for some time, that the real issues begin to surface. It’s only after the alcohol is out of our system, that we have the emotional clarity to see what it is we’ve been trying to avoid for so long.
And in the light of day, and with a lot of support, the fear can begin to melt away.
My recovery therapist at Abbeycare highlighted to me the concept that we must embrace powerlessness – to once again become powerful.
It brought to the surface all the events from the past where I felt powerless.
But, the thing is, when I *really* look at them…..the powerlessness was made up – by me.
It’s just not there, in the outside world. It’s not a part of the event. I thought it was, but it’s not.
All this time, it’s been me.
It All Takes…Time
Accept up front that not all you needed to learn from alcoholism, you’ll get upfront.
Much of it comes only with time, and dedicated self-work and help from others.
For me, I was conditioned from a young age to associate alcohol with life’s relaxation, life’s pressure outlet, the way to feel ok again after emotional and physical excesses.
Once I realised that the conditioning was wrong – that it didn’t make sense – that it was a conclusion I had arrived at, instead of one that was there in the outside world – then thing sbegan to change. Slowly.
I had decoupled the fear from the early experiences alcohol had been a part of. I had learned that it wasn’t the alcohol itself that caused a problem – but what I thought the alcohol meant – the meaning I had attached to it.
Making these distinctions is hard work of course. And not for the faint of heart.
But in my life, more often than not, when I strip away the situation I’m so scared of, and look at it in good perspective, there is nothing there. And no reason for me to use alcohol to cope.
Is it possible your patterns with alcohol are similar?
How much of my addiction is addiction, and how much is mental health issues?
It’s a tricky one.
Especially in those diagnosed with complex MH issues. Usually, you’re taking your meds, minding your own business. And it’s helping manage the symptoms.
But how much of the addiction is being ‘held down’ by the mental health medication required?
How much are the underlying issues of the addictive pattern in your life being suppressed, because the bipolar, or borderline personality, or Schizophrenia, need to be managed, just to function each day?
I think the truth is, we never really know, until we’re in treatment.
We never really know, until we’re off the meds (within reasonable limits and with supervision of course)….in a controlled setting.
That’s when the real reasons for the addiction surface – the reasons why we turned to the (insert your poison) in the first place.
And, it’s a scary prospect. Do we even remember what life was like without the meds? Who we were?
The idea of getting up in front of people to admit….to face the shame….
Both the meds and the addiction layer on top of each other. At least that’s how it felt to me.
And hid who I really was. And the reasons I was addicted.
But with the right help, some gentle nudging in the right direction, and lessons that we need to learn, it IS possible. And help is available. There’s a number of alcohol services for the community, throughout Scotland and the UK.
We just have to want it sometimes. Not even all the time. But if there’s enough of the part of us left, that wants the help (that knows it needs the help) but is crippled by the fear underneath……well then sometimes that’s enough.