And the vacuum sucks you under…
Many of us make the repeated mistake of attempting to just stop drinking. It virtually never works and then we beat ourselves up for being weak or diseased or immoral.
As we have often noted, we get into trouble because it works. Then it doesn’t.
But by that time the habit patterns are set. Really, alcohol is relatively easy to give up. Entrenched behavior patterns – habits – are not.
So what happens when you stop drinking?
Usually you try and go along just the way you always have but without drinking. Trouble is, you haven’t fixed any of the problems you’ve been medicating. You’ve only succeeded in creating a vacuum when you need a coping mechanism, or three or four.
Why would you be surprised when failing to address the real problems instead of the symptom, results in you being sucked back to your old stand-by?
“Just say no,” is undoubtedly one of the stupidest phrases ever uttered as a prescription for ending drug and alcohol abuse.
“Don’t drink, go to AA,” comes in as a close second.
Instead, why not try attending to two different aspects of your drinking?
First, break up the patterns associated with your drinking. Yes, change your routines, routes, schedules and the associations which always lead you down the same “bridges are out” road.
Second, recognize what personal problems you are medicating away. Lonely? Bored? Anxious? Depressed? In pain? Roles evaporating? Marriage slipping away? Suffering from various forms of abuse? Aging?
Any of these, individually or in combination, can lead us to alcohol as a great short term palliative measure. Yes, it works.
Or more accurately, it worked. After all, if it was still working for you, you wouldn’t be reading this, would you?
When alcohol loses its efficacy, it’s time to fix rather than disappear into a bottle – or cult. And that’s going to take effort, motivation, and a new set of skills.
That’s where we come in – real tools, real skills, real support, real solutions.
Let us help you to sort out, prioritize, validate, coach, and encourage. Learn how to override old habits with new ones and to solve problems rather than avoid them with an alcohol generated “protective bubble.”
Authority vs. Responsibility?
We see a lot of clients whose basic underlying motivation to drink comes from seriously unbalanced relationships.
What exactly does that mean?
Balanced relationships, whether marriages, professional partnerships, family interactions, or other reasonably intimate connections, are “in balance” when each person has the necessary authority to make decisions about whatever they are also responsible for within the relationship.
This can be something as trite as, “if I am responsible for doing the dishes then I get to choose whether or not to use the dishwasher and if I do, how I want to load it.”
You might, or maybe not, be surprised about how many opportunities there are for one spouse to attempt to dictate to the other about how something should be done.
Consequently, it’s good for all of us to remember that the way we each do things is a personal preference, NOT a rule.
It also means that, whether big or little, our responsibilities should also come with the authority to do them our way.
Yes, sometimes we may know a better way, but in that case we had best learn how to present suggestions.
For example, after college I worked as a Naturalist in Antioch College’s Glen Helen preserve. When I wasn’t working with students, I did general maintenance work for the head of the park’s work crews, Willy Marlowe, a rural Kentucky transplant who was tall and lean and never without a cigarette dangling from his lower lip.
Willy spoke with a heavy accent and whenever he noted that I wasn’t doing something to his preferences he would say, “Now, Ed, don’t be a letting me tell you how to do your work, but iffin it was me…”
He’s probably the smartest supervisor I have ever worked for and I have never forgotten that gently effective way of helping me.
As usual – good will, good humor, and remembering that we all have preferences that aren’t rules and, yes, there really is more than one way to skin any cat.
Controlling spouses, family members, and professional associates will always want to retain the authority, delegate the responsibility, and take all of the credit.
Seems like a good reason to passive aggressively retaliate by drinking (“control this you…”).
But learning to assertively stand up for yourself, and your preferences, will work a lot better in the long run.
We’re here to help you do just that, among other life enhancing skills.