I got a message from a girl who had been alcohol-free for about 4 months and today she was really struggling. She reached out and said, I know that I want to stay sober and I know that is what’s best for me, but I really want to open up a bottle of wine right now and watch Netflix. I’m feeling so low, and bored.
She was mindful of that struggle inside of her brain reminding her why she shouldn’t drink and not drinking and at the same time romanticizing about drinking and wanting to drink. She was having a craving…she was feeling the pull. The pull for instant gratification tugging at her gently…come this way……this way is easier….just one, have just one.
During a moment of craving, my brain never reminded me of what a hangover feels like. It never reminisced the God awful feeling of hangxiety or insomnia. No – it took me back to the feeling of what that very first glass of wine felt like. That very first drink where my shoulders would soften, my breath would slow down, my jaw would un-clench and my mind would become a little more hopeful and happy. I would only remember the very best feelings about drinking during a craving.
So what to do now that I am experiencing a craving. What to do with all of these feelings. Ugh… the feelings that are are so uncomfortable and real and don’t feel good. First, I would be pleased with myself that I noticed the craving…it almost turned into a game because as I got really mindful of them and the way that they felt, I could actually feel them coming in like I can see a wave coming in from the ocean. I could feel them come in and wash over me. I was very AWARE of them.
The VERY FIRST step in making these awful cravings lesson and eventually go away? I actually had to do something very counter intuitive. Instead of fixing them with a drink or drug, I had to WORK through them. Instead of running away, I had to invite them in closer, lean into them, sit with them and process them.
So one of the things I did in these moments of craving is get out a piece of paper and start writing. I would FREE write, I didn’t worry about grammar or making sure it made perfect sense. I wrote down every single thing that I was feeling; I am so sad I can’t drink. I am so mad that I can’t get wasted right now because that’s what I really want to do. I want to escape. This isn’t fare. I am so mad that I can’t just drink like every one else. I am so angry. I would CRY and curse out loud and moan and groan as I was writing sometimes. Sometimes it helped me to write a letter to Chardonnay letting her know how much I missed her.? I would write and write and write until it was all out, till I couldn’t write any more. I would take a deep breath. Then I would go take a gentle, long, warm shower.
The thing about these cravings is that they DO PASS. Each one I worked; each one I invited in and felt and processed through, the stronger I became. Over a rather short period of time, I noticed my cravings start to dissipate in intensity, length of time and frequency. It takes work, but I could feel myself getting better and better at it the more I practiced. One craving at a time.
Today I am so grateful to be Alcohol Free. It has been the greatest gift I have ever given to myself and my family. It is WORTH the work.
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