Tools in my inbox

I love when I open an email or read a blog post that deals with a topic I’ve been struggling with. It happened again this weekend.

I forgot how much Memorial Day weekend is a trigger for me. Sunday afternoon I saw a peel-off can of microbrew I used to love and thought “maybe I overreacted when I decided to give up drinking forever”. My next thought was, “I feel so much stronger now. Drinking might not even be a problem anymore.”

Some say this is the disease talking, and it can apply to any self-destructive behavior we freed ourselves from. Over time, we forget how bad things were or we get tired of feeling different and apart. We do feel better and stronger, so we begin to doubt we made the right decision for our new and improved selves.

In my inbox the next morning, I had a message containing this quote by Rollo May:

The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it is not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.

This email I could have just as easily skipped over reminded me that it takes real courage to re-commit myself in the face of that doubt, again and again as necessary. I found something about this idea very comforting. I acknowledged the real reason I feel good and strong now is because I gave up drinking.

Entertaining thoughts of drinking again made me wonder where they came from. Was I really that stressed? What was I feeling anyway?

I have a hard time separating feelings from thoughts, but in the second half of the message, I found this helpful suggestion:

Try this experiment. Instead of asking “How do I feel?” ask “What do I want?” or “What would I love to do next?”

This is much easier for me to understand and answer. 

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18 thoughts on “Tools in my inbox

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  1. K, this is so unbelievably fabulous. I have not recently had a desire to drink, but I am totally bookmarking this post, for when (not if but when) I do. You are completely spot on! Thanks for linking the article as well, I will be reading it momentarily!

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  2. What a great topic and a great post.The quote is perfect for me today. I tend to forget why I committed (in the first place). I, too. let doubt creep in and try and win. One of my favorite tools (similar to the experiment you shared) is so say, “How can it get better than this?” I always come up with a solution. This is great and a spot on topic for me. xox Lisa

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  3. Lately I’ve had to remind myself that I chose to stop drinking for myself. No one twisted my arm or forced me to do it. In fact, I was so good at hiding and lying about my struggles that the people closest to me didn’t know I had a drinking problem. I don’t know if they’d see a relapse as a big deal but I would. Knowing that I am only accountable to myself is scary but it also makes me proud of myself. I’m going to print out those quotes and read them often!

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    1. I drank like that too and stopped for myself, so I really need to be careful how far I let a thought go in my head. Scared and proud describe it perfectly. That first quote and link about re-commitment was spot-on for me. It’s not even recovery-specific, but it fits perfectly. I’m so happy you’re blogging again 🙂

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  4. I don’t remember my sobriety start date. It’s somewhere around 8-9 months ago. Don’t care. What I do care about, what I know is, my life, wife, son, family, work, co-workers, friends, even my cats, are light years better off now and getting better every day. I dig what you are saying about justification and doubt. Hit me pretty square last week when I had to book a business trip to London, my former personal favorite pub crawl. Beer thoughts popped up and became little worry blimps on the mental radar screen. Required a different approach is all. Took a breath and considered what life was like while boozing and then thought about what life is now, sans booze. Even this sub-atomic genius could easily make the call. Gotta walk away from the booze, keep walking in the light. I want to live and I want people/things around me to live. Without beer there is opportunity, with beer it’s all DOA. Thanks for the post and all the comments. It helps, it matters. You folks mean a lot to me.

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    1. I can see how a trip there would be a trigger. I’m glad you refocused and remembered the end goal. You are doing beautifully. Proud and grateful to have you as my sober friend.

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    1. I remember the week leading up to my one year anniversary as being hard. Others told me it had been the same for them. Curious. I hope you’re feeling better now. And happy anniversary!!!

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  5. At first the trigger was there all the time – the compulsion to drink – i.e. that I simply had to and couldn’t stop – was lifted but the obsession was not for some months. Then it was did, slowly and those thoughts drifted away. Now they hit me in the oddest time and places, some are obvious, say at a function as someone offers a drink and the little monkey wants to shout out “a beer” but says “just a lemonade”… I always wonder if I’ll ever stop say “just” before ordering a non-alcoholic drink, I still seem to have to excuse my behaviour to others, who frankly don’t care any way!

    But then sometimes it does just hit me and I try to see the trigger, fear is there sometimes, through stress or whatever, or just that it is a situation that previously would always have had me drinking in it. I stopped smoking in my early 20s, it was at least 20 years until I stopped picturing myself in my dreams smoking.

    Once the addiction has bitten it leaves its venom deep inside us – as long as we don’t act on the thoughts either through drinking or else that is progress. Your questions are good – I normally just ask myself, “what was I going to do before that thought” and just do that.

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  6. Great post and comments. For some reason I can’t picture you as a beer drinker, maybe because for me it was always wine wine wine all the way. I have had a lot of ‘was I even that bad’ thoughts lately which I am refusing to indulge.. but they are there. I like what Karen Perry above wrote about being accountable only to ourselves.. that is the truth for me too… I don’t know if anyone would care much if I quietly started drinking wine again.. not sure.. don’t want to go there.. not going to happen….

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