I stumbled on this podcast that revealed so many insights into my negative behaviors. It’s so simple I can’t believe it…
My negative thoughts create negative feelings that lead to negative actions. Alcohol is not bad. I am not an alcoholic. But I’m using alcohol in a negative way because of my negative thoughts. I just needed to learn how to talk to myself the right way, instead of letting my fears and self judgment dictate my feelings and actions.
Fear & Self Loathing
I am afraid…I’m afraid others won’t like me. That I might mess up. That I’m not good enough. I’m not pretty enough. I am afraid of being alone. These thoughts are running through my subconscious mind, creating little particles of anxiety that travel through my body, causing my neck to tighten up and my forehead to crease.
I let these thoughts build up into a volcano of anxiety that bottoms out into depression. I can’t cope with feeling this way…I need something to escape. So I turn to wine. As the ethanol leaks into my bloodstream and travels to my brain, dopamine is released and I feel good. My neck muscles relax and I’m feeling so much better!
I drink when I have to be around people because I am afraid. The alcohol helps me loosen up, to have fun. Thank God for liquid courage! How do people have fun without drinking?! Someone wants to do a shot. Why not, YOLO, right?
But what happens if I lose this buzz? I better drink more to make sure the heavy feelings don’t settle back in. This is nice. I’m relaxed. Life isn’t so bad after all! With this drink in hand, I have a little pep in my step, and life is good! I think I’m up to my fourth drink? Wait, how did I get so drunk? Did I really just say that? I really have to pee. Ugh, my tongue feels thick and my voice sounds tinny. How am I getting home? Am I forgetting something?
I’m starting to feel anxious again. The clouds are returning and they’re getting worse. The alcohol is wreaking havoc with my brain and I can’t control my body. I feel like I’m spiraling out of control. Wait, I don’t like this anymore. Why do I do this to myself? Despair sets in. I don’t want to be drunk anymore! Then I decide this is it! Tomorrow, I will not drink. I don’t need alcohol!
I wake up. Another day of the same old, same old. The world is gray and chilly. I go through the motions, doing what I’m supposed to do, paying my dues to society. I get little glimpses of happiness–the sound of my baby’s laughter as I tickle him, fresh coffee to start my day, but these moments dissipate faster than they come.
Why are people so rude, so stupid? Ugh. This world is going to shit. We’re doomed. What is the point of this? Does anything even matter? I’m overwhelmed. I need something to relieve this stress.
My to do list is a mile long and no one appreciates anything I do. Screw it, I don’t care. I’ll just do the bare minimum to get by. And I deserve a reward for putting up with this crap. If I can make it through this day, I will pick up a Black Box of Chardonnay on my way home. But I’ll only have 1 glass, at the most 2. I don’t want a repeat of last night.
I carefully start thinking of something else before I let myself realize that each glass has enough wine to count as 2 drinks. The thought of going home to a glass of wine is enough to get me through the rest of my day.
I get home, the commute was long, there is so much to be done. Kids to feed, homework, chores, dinner, baths, bedtime. I feel like I’m on a hamster wheel, repeating the same thing, day in and day out. I pour a glass of wine as I help my son subtract four from nine. I carry my wine to the table as we eat dinner. We clean up and sit in front of our screens–Candy Crush, Netflix, reality shows, PS4. I tell myself I’m decompressing as I swipe up, down, left, right, my brain getting a hit of dopamine with each level conquered, each sip of wine. I tuck my boys in and go to bed. Great. I get to do it all again tomorrow.
My hobbies dissipate into empty Black Boxes of Chardonnay and I struggle to come up with interesting things to talk about with people. Why don’t I have any friends? I feel awkward, so I pregame before events to help my social anxiety.
Rinse, and repeat. I feel like I’m swirling down the drain. This is NOT the life I want to live!
I am afraid…I’m afraid others won’t like me. That I might mess up. That I’ll make a fool of myself. That I’m not good enough. I’m not funny enough. I’m not pretty enough. I’m not entertaining enough. I am afraid of being alone. These thoughts are running through my subconscious mind, creating little particles of anxiety that travel through my body, causing my neck to tighten up and my forehead to crease.
I take a deep breath in, close my eyes and force myself to try to relax. I carefully examine each thought.
What if others don’t like me? Fear! That won’t be pleasant, but really, as long as I have my God and I am at peace with myself, it shouldn’t matter. If someone doesn’t appreciate me, that’s okay. It’s not a bad thing, or a good thing, it just…is. Maybe they’re not meant to be in my life after all. As long as I’m true to myself, it’ll be okay. If people like me, yay, I have a new friend. If they don’t, oh well. It’s not meant to be.
What happens if I mess up? Fear! What is my expectation of myself? I am a human, and I am not perfect. Which means I will make mistakes. How do we become proficient at anything without being a novice beginner first? I give myself permission to fail. I realize if I’m not failing sometimes, I’m probably not growing! Does a baby go from a crawl to a walk without falling sometimes? How amazing that I have my God to catch me. As long as I have my God and I am at peace with myself, it shouldn’t matter.
What if I’m not good enough? Self judgment! What is this standard of ‘enough’? If it’s something that is truly important to me and the process of doing it makes me happy, I’ll keep practicing and working at it. I want to make pretty art. I give myself permission to be a beginner and know that my first piece might not be amazing, but I really like the smell of gesso and the way it feels under my fingertips–cool, slippery…it reminds me of being a little kid, finger painting, not giving a second thought to what my outcome will be, just enjoying the process. There is no good enough! I will just enjoy the process!
What if I don’t feel pretty? Self judgment! What is pretty? Well, I have a gap in my teeth and my smile is kind of funny and awkward, I’m still carrying those 30 lbs that I want to lose (what was I thinking in high school when I thought I was fat?! I would love to be that weight again!) Wait a minute. When I look at people, I love quirkiness. Why wouldn’t others love my quirks too? Who cares if I have a few extra pounds as long as I am healthy? I love other people who accept and embrace their flaws and imperfections, so why can’t I embrace my own???
What if I can’t do it? Fear! Wait. This is just a huge road block in my road to happiness that I put there!!! Why am I sabotaging myself? If I’m not strong enough, smart enough, patient enough, I’ll ask for help and I will learn. I have my God to ask for grace and strength. I can do all things through my God who gives me strength.
Faith, Hope, & Love
As I get ready for the day I look forward to interacting with people. I hope I meet someone a little quirky that likes art and silly jokes. When I arrive, instead of walking into the room and waiting for people to talk to me, to entertain me, I look around the room and talk to the first person that catches my eye. She’s wearing pearls with a button up shirt. How unorthodox! I love it! My smile is genuine and I introduce myself. Other people are drinking and I don’t mind at all. I hardly notice. I’m enjoying her company. I meet more people who share some of my likes and before I know it, it’s time to go. I’m excited. I met so many new people. This was a great night.
I wake up. I feel good, but my back is a little tight. I Google Yoga with Adrienne and do a few stretches. It’s almost orgasmic, my muscles pulling, feeling the tension release. I go to get dressed and a bright scarf catches my eye and I decide to plan my clothes around it. My boys are awake and the sun is coming up over the Highwoods and it is gorgeous. I really need to get better at watercolors so I can capture this! Logan makes the sign for ‘milk’ and I clap and say, “Yay!” He smiles back and claps too. It’s a little stressful getting out the door…but I have a new podcast to listen to and I’m excited.
I’m loving this podcast…it’s like listening to my grandma and she has some amazing insightsinto my faith. I feel like I’m being rejuvenated just listening to her. Someone cuts me off but I don’t mind. Oh, out of town license plates. That might explain why the sudden lane change. As I get my coffee I notice the barista’s turquoise and black hair and I tell her I love her hair. She beams at me and I feel good. It’s snowing again, but it’s the snow that is wet and sticky…perfect for a snowman. It’ll melt before long. It might be April and snowing but before we know it flowers and leaves will be popping out. The idea of spring makes me want to get a bright lipstick. Wait, I have a little money! I have a tricky complexion but the makeup gal helps me and I really like her. I go about my day, wearing my new lipstick, soaking up my interactions with the patients. One of them takes a little more of my time than I had planned, but somehow I got all my other interviews done. I enjoyed being able to visit with the patients, and the lengthy visit seemed to ease the patient’s worries some.
I pick up Logan from daycare, the highlight of my day. I love his smile when he looks up and sees me. He’s a little cranky from teething but the car lulls him to sleep as we start the 20 mile drive home. I decide to let him sleep a little longer so I pull off the highway onto the gravel road. I’ve been wanting to explore out here. All the moisture has created a little pond and there are swans. The view is gorgeous with the Highwoods and the clouds. Hey, I have my water colors! As I finish up my sketch a farm truck comes down the road and an older man waves. The swans fly off and Logan wakes up and starts crying. I put my supplies away and unbuckle Logan. He stops crying and grins from ear to ear as he drives us home to Nate and Dillon. Today was a good day.