I had an extract of my book published on a recovery website this week (https://soberistas.com/) It has had some good responses, and it seems to have struck a chord with some people who are struggling. This gives me a sense that I have made a difference to some people. This is the reason I am blogging, and the reason I have written my memoir. I wanted others who were still struggling to get a sense they were not alone.
In my early days of recovery, I went to loads of different websites and recovery blogs. They helped immensely. I think this is one of the most difficult things for people, especially women, who are trying to give up drinking; the sense of isolation, the shame and fear associated with being a problematic drinker. This is particularly so if you have children. Society at large can seem critical and we tend to internalise that critical element and turn it into self-blame. I know I did, and it has only been very recently that I have managed to really challenge this self-critical part and instead recognise the trauma and stress I have been through that led me to using drink as a coping strategy.
If you are in the early stages, or anywhere on your journey to sobriety, understand that you are not to blame for your addiction. This is not to say that you are not responsible for trying to change your relationship with alcohol, but the things that led you to turning to booze were not necessarily in your control.
Alcohol use is a recognised way of coping with difficult things in our society. We are bombarded by images of it all the time. We see it as a natural way of managing our emotions. We all have difficult things to deal with in life, and more often than not have not been given adequate resources to help us to manage these difficulties. This is where coping mechanisms such as alcohol come in. Alcohol is just one way of coping, other people use other things, but these are not necessarily used in any more of a healthy way. Workaholism, excessive busyness, eating issues (including yo-yo dieting), taking on too much, being a people pleaser; these could all be seen as dysfunctional coping mechanisms. It is unfortunate that alcohol takes such a physical, emotional and psychological toll. Alcohol abuse is also vilified in our society.
Self-blame does not help anyone when they are trying to overcome their difficult relationship with alcohol. For me, it probably kept me stuck for longer than I had to be, as I was terrified to reach out and ask for help. Even when I finally did get the help, I was so caught up in self-blame that it made me depressed and kept me stuck in a negative cycle of self-criticism, rather than congratulating myself on my achievement. Even if you have not stopped drinking yet, or a still uncertain if that is what you will do, if you are questioning your relationship with alcohol, you are trying to make changes, and this deserves recognition and praise. So, anyone who is stuck in that cycle of self-blame, please try to be a bit kinder to yourself, you deserve it!