Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Why Do We Drink?

We drink because we're alcoholic is a pretty obvious answer, but does it really go far enough? I think especially for those of us who are able to put together some sober time but have a problem with intermittent relapse, it's important to figure out exactly what leads us to drink. In the past 7 years there are three main reasons I have chosen to drink: physical pain, anxiety (emotional pain), and interpersonal relationships that for whatever reason don't work (again, emotional pain). It is actually these things that I've been in denial about for so long, not my alcoholism. I'm pretty convinced on that score.

Since I've been in treatment my anxiety has all but disappeared. It's easy enough for me to see how drinking only made my anxiety worse and that when not drinking much of it goes away of its own accord. However, those other two reasons I mentioned - physical pain and interpersonal relationships, can cause the anxiety to resurface. Thanks to the excellent professional help I'm receiving, I'm able to take appropriate action on the interpersonal relationships, but the physical pain is another story.
Back in June I developed a cyst on my knee from ACL surgery a year and a half ago, and since then I've been in and out of varioius levels of physical pain. I have an old injury to the hip on the same side, a slight scoliosis in my back and have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia. I've been steadily seeking assistance with the pain, but unfortunately some things I've done (chiropractic) have actually made it worse and even created new pain.

Along with all the usual methods: heat/cold, massage, topical anesthetics and anti-inflammatory medication, I'm also using acupuncture, visualization and meditation to help me deal with it. But the truth is I'm in a lot of pain and it's beginning to wear me down. The main thing I've been trying to avoid is going into a lot of fear about the pain, about what "could" be wrong. It's a challenge and I think there are a couple of things going on. One is the injuries and age of my body and the other is, I believe, kundalini.
I'm amazingly fortunate to have a good team of helpers, from my counselors to my massage therapist and acupuncturist, both who are working with me financially, otherwise I wouldn't be able to afford the treatments. Also, Roberta has an infrared sauna that I've been making good use of. I believe what's happening is that as I continue to wake up (I'm not sure how else to put it), I'm letting go of many negative thought patterns, beliefs and behaviors and as these things leave the body they give it a kind of charge. Or maybe they get stuck for a few days before moving on out. The other night I had so much energy in my hips I paced the floor for two hours in the early dawn because they literally would not be still. I believe this is the lower chakras releasing, opening up and coming into the proper vibration.

What I'm realizing is that everything in our lives is an invitation to awaken. We can look at it in this VERY BIG WAY or we can stay stuck in the denseness of 3-D reality and become very unhappy indeed. I should know. I was stuck there for a long ass time.
Working on the mental aspects of my health is as important as working on the physical aspects and in my experience separating one from the other will only constitute partial healing. And I'll tell you, it's time-consuming and exhausting to delve deeply into spirit, but an inner life has opened to me that I had no idea existed. I feel intense deep feelings of love permeate me and everything around me and I know that this is really what heals. I finally understand what my friend, Claudia, was going on about all that time. This is what's supposed to happen by working the 12 steps and I can understand why people are so attached to it when it does. My senses seem hyper-alert and everything is so beautiful I can hardly stand it. And then it goes away for awhile and I begin to doubt it at all. And then it comes back. And when it goes away again I doubt it less.


PMFAddictionTreatmentCenter said...

Thanks for the post.
A lot of addicts ask that question and yes the obvious answer is "because I'm an alcoholic." I struggled with wanting to know exactly...and exhausted myself. Letting go of that question and just accpeting the fact I am an alcoholic helped a great deal

claud said...

This is a gorgeous post, and not just because you mention me in it, either. It's that last line that gets me: about doubting it less the next time. That is the story of "faith" to me: which when you think about it, sounds a lot less like faith than it does experience! But it's what creates a solid place in me about what I believe, so when I get scared, I can go to it - and I guess that seems like faith to me.
I love this post...where are all the comments? love, c

vicariousrising said...

I agree with you: we can't get spiritually well until we seek out the underlying reasons we drink. I don't think pinning it all down to simply "being an alcoholic" even begins to scratch the surface of what has gotten us so lost. If it were so easy as "we drink cuz we're drunks," then all we'd have to do is put down the drink. The reason all the spiritual and therapeutic (and, yep, even the underlying purpose of the 12 steps) things alcoholics implements are effective at making our lives better and keeping us from drinking.

You sound really great. I'm so glad you found this facility that's helping you move in a direction that works for you.