One of the hardest things about getting sober has been the loss of what was my go to coping strategy. Like a lot of people, I used alcohol to relax me, blur the edges, take the edge off. For a long time it worked, I enjoyed a glass or two of wine after a hard day and it really was a glass or two and it wasn’t every day. Over time however, it became a problem until I found myself hurtling fast towards a rock, rock bottom, almost a year ago. I have written before about what a mess I was in.
So now I no longer drink I have had to find new ways to deal with stress, anxiety, depression, pain and all the stuff life throws at me. All the stuff I didn’t really have to think about before because I just blocked it out, blacked out and carried on.
I have some new strategies. I go to the gym, read, write this blog and do jigsaws. I spend time with my girls and Mr So. I chill out. But alongside all those positives I also have some coping mechanisms which I wish I didn’t. The main ones are overeating and skin picking – I know it’s horrible and I know I shouldn’t do it but I do. I also listen to that voice in my head which tells me I am waste of space, weak, worthless, selfish and ungrateful. The same voice which used to tell me to drink and still tries to persuade me to do so from time to time.
Now I need to work out how to make sure that when I am struggling I go to the gym or chill out doing a jigsaw with my daughter rather than reaching for the chocolate and crisps and pulling at my skin. My therapist has helped me to realise that those habits are not because I am a bad person, they are just my ways of coping. I need to focus on making better choices and stop beating myself up when I don’t. She has reminded me that it is less than a year since I stopped drinking after years and years where alcohol occupied a position of central importance in my life. Towards the end, everything revolved around drinking. Drinking and thinking about drinking took over my whole life to the point that I didn’t care about anything else. The rest; work, home, family had to fit in around drinking and not the other way round.
So I need to be gentler and kinder to myself and focus on the good. This time last year if someone had asked me what I liked to do I would have looked at them blankly and really, really struggled to come up with anything at all. Now I have a sober toolbox with all kinds of things I genuinely enjoy doing. That has to be a good thing.