Kindly written and submitted by a Nelson Trust day care client (Dec 2012)
What have I learnt so far?
I have not only learnt more about my addiction, but have come to realize that I have lived with it longer than I knew.When I took my first drink as a teenager and felt I’d found the solution to my shyness and unease around people, was when I first came to depend on it. Even though it was years later that it took over my life, looking back it has played a significant part in good and bad times throughout most of my years.
As I have learnt more about alcoholism, I have learnt more about my life, and how the two fit together.
I have always from when I was very small, found life and the outside world daunting, and sometimes frightening. Fear has played a large role, my lack of confidence and coping with things such as change, loss, challenges etc., have always, I realise made me feel not good enough.
Drink soothed and filled the hole, and eased the pain of not living up to what was expected of me, and what I expected of myself. My thinking became more entrenched with these thoughts, and my behaviours and self-will were quite self-destructive and negative. These things became my reality and personality. I didn’t question or challenge. I just looked for respite and relief from them in drink.
The social acceptability of drinking helped me to justify and camouflage my use of it. I’ve come to realise that, although at the time I believed that it was helping me, it actually stunted me from developing life skills, coping and learning to rely on myself, which in turn would have rewarded me with a sense of achievement and self-worth, hence in certain areas of my life, I just wasn’t growing and evolving.
I have also learnt that even though my beliefs were very negative and painful for me, the longer they went unchallenged, the more familiar and safe they became. They were what I was, just not good enough. They existed deep within me, self-defeatism and self-sabotage were constants.
One of the hardest parts in my treatment, is coming to believe and feel that there is a better way to think that feelings I’ve always drank on, can be felt and explored, without them crippling me.
Years and years of a certain way of thinking and dealing with life is an emotional as well as an intellectual challenge. At times it’s seemed impossible? I just wasn’t capable of making such profound changes. If taking the drink away was scary, then questioning the very core of my self-will and beliefs seemed huge.
This is where treatment has been a revelation and positive experience, because my old thinking and my addiction is questioned. Other more positive and helpful ways of being are suggested , and the possibility of change starts to become something I can believe in. I find this exciting, and the future seems to offer me a more rewarding and richer life, if I can keep believing in myself and completely accept that drinking will only destroy that future.
I feel I have grown here in treatment. I have tried to approach my recovery with complete honesty. I have had times of going with my vulnerability and the exposure that brings. Although I have become impatient and reliable on quick fixes, this is slowly changing to. These are things not just unique to me, but some of the trails that I share with other people with addictions. This is where group work is so valuable. Identifying with others, sharing and hearing about their pain and struggles.
These have been like a gift to me, and I’ve often felt humbled and honoured to be part of their treatment. Honesty is a great key to getting and staying well, and witnessing it is very emotional.
The areas I need to work on further whilst here, are to still make and walk down new roads of self will, and new established ways of belief and habits. To remember, what is learnt can be unlearnt. To keep safe is to also recognise what are called your “triggers”.
People places and feelings that can send you back to old ways of thinking, therefore tempting me into old behaviour such as my addiction. I’m learning that a relapse can begin way before an actual drink is taken.
I want to learn more about recognising when I’m slipping back into negative ways of leading my life, i.e. not talking to someone if I’m feeling sad or upset about something, become tired or irritable and not paying attention to why, or finding ways, positive ways, of making myself feel better.
I’ve become to believe that maintenance of my recovery doesn’t have to feel like a life -long chore, as I have in the past. It can be rewarding and will become more and more natural, the longer I deal and cope with life in this new and positive way.
I’m just over half way through my treatment at Nelson, and I’ve learnt so much already. If I stay focused and work hard on the remainder of my time here, I have hope for myself, the future, and living a life, when it’s good sad or hard , that is free from alcohol and all the hopelessness that it brings with it.