Do you remember how I told you in a previous post that I’m always right? Well. It would appear that I stand corrected. *drum roll* I was wrong. Yep.
This, I want to point out before anything else, is one of the best things about the online recovery community. Writing has always been my passion as well as a way for me to process and make sense of things, so my blog originated as a tool for me to get all my thoughts out. There is also the desire to pass on the lessons I learn in the hope that perhaps someone can take something good from my experiences, even if it’s the tiniest little thing. But the best thing of all is the wealth of experience, advice and insight I get to tap into by reading other blogs – I swear, every single time I read other blog posts (and do check out the list of blogs I’ve favourited to explore this treasure chest I’m continuously building as I discover all these amazing voices out there) I learn something. Sometimes it’ll be something that makes me go “uh-huh” in recognition, other times of course I may not agree or relate at all but it always makes me think and take something away with me. There’s always a little lesson in there somewhere. Then, on occasion, it’s a thunderbolt.
This thunderbolt was delivered by feelingmywaybackintolife via comments on a previous post I wrote. Given my desperate need to get along and have everyone like me, I much prefer being able to agree, but I got my knickers in a right old twist as I couldn’t for the life of me say that I ever drank because I wanted to numb how I feel. Initially I felt like I’ve done in some 12 step meetings where some people have droned on (yes, droned ooooon) about how hard sobriety is when I’ve just felt the opposite and actually thought of the drinking as the really difficult bit. It’s complicated to put all this into words and articulate clearly how I feel but there we are. Getting sober has been life changing simply because it feels like I’m finally LIVING. Anyway, Feeling suggested that addiction often comes down to an inability to accept or be content with what is. To my ears this initially sounded like she was saying all addicts are hurt or broken or down somehow. I thought it was yet another person saying it’s always about numbing how we feel and of course this just wasn’t true for me. But then I got it – I think, anyway.
So take that scenario when I really fancy a drink – I’m happy and excited and ready to go for it. Why not, in that instance, just stay with the feeling? What is it that drives me to pour wine on it? In my head, wine was glitter that you sprinkle around you to celebrate. The question is why I felt it needed to be celebrated or enhanced? And obviously given how the drinking was wrecking my life it seems even more mad. Why can’t I just be content and joyous with how I feel instead of adding booze? Of course I thought alcohol made everything even more joyous despite struggling through the day because of the previous night’s “celebrations”. Now that I’m sober, this is the case and I stay in the feeling all the time but that’s largely down to the fact that I realised booze does none of the things I thought it did. Fuck, there were times I filled up the glass and felt the deepest sorrow over being unable to stop myself and knowing that first drink was the entrance gate leading to ten more. Joyous indeed. But this is my alcoholism in a nutshell: booze to my mind was an enhancer but something that turned dark because I can’t stop when I start and the beginning of the end was when it got so bad I was pouring that first glass with despair and yet I couldn’t stop myself. And here’s why it was a thunderbolt to me when I finally – after Feeling had patiently explained several times and it eventually got through to me – understood what the real question was. That I saw alcohol as an enhancer we’ve already established but why did I need any enhancer in the first place?
There is a word in Swedish that I absolutely hate and with considerable passion too: LAGOM. It’s so stupid other languages don’t even have a word for it. It sort of means not too much and not too little – just right. Enough. No excess and no shortage. I’ve always seen it as fucking bollocks and any time someone says it I want to go viking on their ass and drink my coffee from their skull. Now, believe it or not, the word does hail from viking times. It is formed of two other words: “laget om” which kind of means ‘the whole team round‘. And will you get a load of this – it refers to drinking! Now this is truly nuts because it’d suggest my fearsome, pillaging, robbing, conquering, plundering, warring ancestors were awesome at this thing I just can’t do: moderation! Of all fucking things my ancestors went and bloody invented moderation. I can’t fucking take it but it’d seem they did indeed. They passed the cup of mead around to each other – the whole team round or “laget om” – and the idea was you drink your share, which meant being mindful that there was enough for everyone else to get a sip too. Who knew! I mean, at a glance I would have thought I’d made a fine viking indeed with my full throttle approach. In reality I would have been a terrible one – necking back all the mead in one greedy go, leaving nothing for the rest and then being excluded from any future Villages-to-Burn strategy meetings.
There you have it: the vikings were mindful moderators. Perhaps “lagom” is the way to go, after all…..?
Actually, fuck no, I’m not going to convert to the church of lagom, I’d sooner eat my own head, but perhaps this is KIND OF what I have been – in spite of myself – been slowly learning throughout my sobriety? Finding the glitter right where I stand? Oh damn you Feeling – if you’ve turned me lagom I will have to hunt you down and force feed you pickled herring until you beg for mercy. Holy cannoli. But it seems to be true and I freaking LOVE how Feeling managed to switch on this lightbulb for me. Why is it never enough for me? Well, now that I’m sober it absolutely is, but when I look back at my drinking, why was it that a feeling of happiness immediately had to be enhanced, accelerated, pumped up and magnified? I’m like this in general too. Now that I’m sober I’m learning to love and discovering the beauty of “what is”. I quickly discovered that I don’t in any way whatsoever need to enhance anything. So why did I before?
Half measures have never been my thing, which I suppose makes perfect sense given I’m an alcoholic but it permeated every single area of my life from eating like a truck driver to crawling across the dam mechanism at a power station. It’s full throttle. Everything I feel, I feel strongly and although I actually wouldn’t want to ever change that, I do really appreciate life sober and how it has balanced me out again. Alcohol threw me off balance completely and made me so freaking extreme – you only need to compare Drunk Me with Sober Me to see that these are two completely different people. The basics are the same because obviously they’re both me, but the approaches are wildly different. No, you’ll probably never be able to call me lagom or a fan of the middle gears but I’ve massively chilled out, THAT you can be sure of.
Cherokee actually mentioned how someone else she knows who’s in recovery talked about the addictive brain or personality, which I suppose is at the core of this. Why this need to put your foot on it all the time. Why not cruise and enjoy the view? This is what the insights offered by the fabulous Feeling seemed to be saying too and indeed she did recommend a book on the subject of the addictive brain that I will get a hold of. Another piece of the puzzle seems to be slowly falling into place here. So on the table in front of me I now have:
- My unfortunate reaction to booze when I take the first drink so that I guzzle my way to black-out.
- The illusion I had of booze and the things I thought it was (glitter).
- The frantic, obsessive urge to enhance and magnify a good feeling, or rather the strange inability to enjoy it just the way it is.
It’s not a clear picture that’s emerging but it’s interesting as fuck and I am so excited about learning to understand this slightly complicated creature I seem to be. Oh, hold up girl! Less of the narcissism there. I’m just a human being. But you know what I mean. This is absolute gold dust to me. Or glitter, if you will. This might just be the foundation course that all you sober heroes figured out ages ago but this really is a real revelation for me and an angle I hadn’t thought of. As always, I’m super keen to hear other people’s views so if you want to follow Feeling’s lead here, feel more than welcome to deliver more thunderbolts. Or stuff to make me go uh-huh. S’all good.
Today I’m not going to drink.