I have learned in the last few days that I don’t know how to deal with feeling sad. When I’m sad, I feel like the world is ending and I’ll never feel better. It’s an all-consuming thing. I seem to have a really low tolerance for emotional pain of any sort. I think this is a really big part of why my drinking became a problem. At first, it was just an occasional thing, but at some point, I started using it to stop these awful feelings. I might have even lowered my pain tolerance by self-medicating all these years.
I did have thoughts of drinking, but I knew it would only make things worse. On top of everything else, I would have blown over 6 months of sobriety. No way I was going to do that. If I had been in my first few weeks of sobriety, I don’t know how it would have gone. I am thankful that I have enough sober time that it prevents me from turning to alcohol when I am in emotional pain. Now that I’m on the other side of this funk, I can see clearly that it was a lesson. It was a lesson that no matter how bad I feel, it’s temporary. And without pain, you can’t be as grateful for the joy. It’s just life.
The other thing I realized yesterday is that I am a normal, emotional human being. All my life, I have been surrounded by emotionally “constipated” people. My family, and probably to some extent, I chose friends who were superficial and didn’t share feelings. I think because of that, I have always felt “crazy.” Like everyone else is always fine, no one feels sad or lonely…except me. Even my partner is so even-keeled it’s easy to think that she is just always fine and never feels this way. She’s just not outwardly emotional. And I think that all this time, I have suppressed my emotions because 1.) I didn’t think anyone understood them, and 2.) because I didn’t think anyone cared. Given my upbringing, I had good reason to believe these things, but these beliefs no longer serve a useful function in my life. It all contributed to the reasons why I drank.
In this archaeological dig that my sobriety has become, I am unearthing bits and pieces…the bones and pottery shards that are artifacts of who I really am underneath. And over the last few days, I have learned that I am a sensitive, emotional person, and I shouldn’t be ashamed of it. It’s part of who I am, and I’ve been trying to drink it away for a long time.