Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sober Day #65- Emotions and Fear

Alcohol numbs us- to our surroundings, our emotions, our fears.  Most of us who turn to alcohol as a solution feel inadequate in some way, unequal to the challenges of our lives, afraid we can't 'handle' the emotions we'd feel if not numbed. And with sobriety, we can be flooded with the very emotions we have been trying to avoid.  How to deal with this?

I'm discovering it's much simpler than it initially seems.  You just sit still and allow yourself to feel.  You notice how you are feeling.  It's kind of like letting your tongue feel a sore tooth, at first.  It feels strange, unaccustomed and possible dangerous.  Keep feeling.  Don't shut it off.  Just sit with it.  And after a bit, you find yourself thinking:  well, this isn't that hard after all.

Even the really tricky emotions- jealousy, fear, hatred- they all dissipate over time.  Especially when you keep reminding yourself, these are emotions occurring in my mind, they have no concrete reality of their own.  Therefore, if I don't like them, I do have the power to change them.

One of this big benefits of this, besides lessening the pull of anesthetic alcohol, is that it also frees you to feel the positive emotions.  (anesthesia lessens or shuts off all emotions, good and bad, happy and sad- it doesn't work selectively!).  And those pleasant, joyful emotions-they also feed one's soul and lessen the attractiveness of alcohol as a solution.

Examples:  Last night I sat on the sofa in my bedroom, reading before bed.  One dog was curled up next to me, one was curled up at my feet, and the third was doing adorable calithenics on the bed.  I took a moment to really enjoy the scene:  Warm and cozy, soft and comfortable, great canine friends- and a good book.  Contentment.

This morning, I opened the garage door to head off to work-  and found snow.  An inch or more.  Sigh, another force trying to make me late for work.  But then as I drove, I switched my focus.  It was still dark.  As I drove, the snowflakes caught in my headlights, and appeared to be coming toward me (like that old windows star screensaver).  It was absolutely lovely:  Enchantment.

Making that conscious shift to being truly present for the moment, noticing what is happening around me, finding the good, the amusing, the beautiful-  these feelings feed that fearful place in my soul, and help bolster my resistance to that siren call of Wolfie, the King of Alcohol.


  1. I've noticed that I hear things more clearly. I don't mean in the auditory sense of the word but in the cognition sense. It's like I'm listening in stereo and subtleties of conversation that I have never noticed before - now I do. It is really quite marked and I'm a bit taken aback and sad that I never noticed it's absence and now it's presence before.

    1. I love this! Wine made it very easy to shut the world out, which seemed to me to be keeping me safer. I was wrong. Being Here and Now is much more powerful and much more fun!

  2. I love this post, and relate to everything you wrote. When we get sober, we have made a space for ourselves to experience our lives in whole new ways -- the rough and the sweet. And it's so empowering to be able to accommodate our emotions and what happens to us, rather than being terrified and shutting down. Amazing.

    1. Sue- you say it beautifully! And how amazed we are to discover we CAN do this, be sober, feel emotions, enjoy our world. (Big happy sigh!)


I'd love to hear about your journey, and hear your take on my journey. Comments are very welcome!!