So-to continue on from my last two posts. If you’re still alcohol free, good for you! If you’ve slipped, that’s OK! The main thing is to not beat yourself up. To try to catch yourself when you start to beat yourself up and stop. Stop right in the middle of it and try to bring your attention to a positive. I know-trust me! that at times this can be really, really hard. But, just try! Try to see the pattern of beating yourself up-try to see when you start to beat yourself up.
At one point in my life-and during my recovery, I found myself telling myself that I hated myself. Over and over. That’s not the kind of positive self reinforcement that does anyone any good. It all ties into our self imposed stigma of having a problem with alcohol. Our need to keep ourselves down and punished. Has anyone who hasn’t been drinking for a few weeks been feeling like, “I feel like shit! I don’t feel like I look any better! I haven’t lost any weight!”? That is beating yourself up. Of course, in my case and maybe yours, it’s a natural thing to beat ouselves up-easier to act negatively towards ourselves than positively.
How about the next time you’re coming down on yourself, you try to negate it by telling yourself something like,” Yeah, I do feel like shit! I still don’t like my weight, etc.. BUT I haven’t had any alcohol in so many days. I am trying something new and different. I am learning to take care of myself.” You are now in your own school. The University of Healing and Self Love. Getting a degree in how to live a fuller and more complete life. From there, you can go to graduate school..And with any new type of self education, at times there’s a need for research. Sometimes there’s a need for a tutor. There’s a need for new behaviors- new ways “to be”.
So, here are some of the things that have helped me. I realize that some of these things-and maybe all of them- are listed in many places. But, for what it’s worth, maybe you need to hear/read it one more time in a different way.
Permission Granted! This means giving yourself permission to do whatever it takes to get you through the day without drinking. If it means getting in bed at 5 p.m.-do it! If it means staying home on a Saturday night-do it! If it means eating a tub of ice cream in the bathtub, do it!
Treat Yourself Find new ways to treat yourself. Long baths-these are a tremendous help in so many ways! Saving the money you would spend on drinking and treating yourself to something special-a facial-a new coat-whatever it is that feels special to you. Set a goal for that money-you’ll be surprised at how quickly it adds up. I was also surprised that I got to a point where I would think how much I would rather spend that money on something other than alcohol. How wasteful it was just drinking it away.
Allow Yourself whatever time it takes to feel better about things. There is no time frame here-no deadline. It takes what it takes and it’s different for everyone.
Breathe the way we breathe is so important. Watching your breath is a good way to take your focus on something such as not being able to sleep or feeling anxious. A way that works for me, is to close my eyes and exhale up through the top of my head and inhale from the top of my head-in slow, long, deep breaths. Even a couple of minutes of this is extremely helpful. Ano-ther thing that helps when feeling anxious-especially if it hits during the day while sitting at a desk, is to put your head down between your legs, watching your breath. There is actually a scientific explanation of how this posture effects the brain in good ways, that I won’t go into now. Just try to remember to breathe in a stressful time.
Find a Mantra When I was going through my divorce, years ago, it was incredibly stressful for me. The owner of a Chinese restaurant that I frequented picked up on this and gave me a recording of Taoist Monks chanting. I listened to that tape almost 24/7. I would come home from work, get in the tub with that Mantra going. I never did know the meaning of it, but it calmed me. I used it for years! Another mantra that I used for years was something that I read in a book-that still comes to me occasionally. “The solution to all problems now manifests. I feel free and filled with light.” Now, because I follow a Hindu based meditation practice, I chant the Gayatri Mantra. This is a very sacred Hindu mantra to the Divine Mother. It is ingrained in me and sometimes I wake in the night to find it running through my head. As with many mantras, there is a tremendous healing power in the words. It’s about finding one that you resonate with. It may take you awhile to find the right fit for you.
Explore Relaxation Practices The above Breathe section is one of these. Yoga is a great one-so is meditation. These can be done on many levels in many forms. Find the one that works for you. You might go to a class or find an on-line version or even something offered on TV. Even if it’s gentle stretching, it will be a tremendous help to you. At the least, it will show your Self that you are trying something healing. You will be putting the message out to the Universe that you want to heal. Walking is one of my favorite things to do. I love being outside in Nature and feeling the healing energy of trees and other plants. Find something that works for you and try to stick with it-even if you can only allow 10 minutes a day for it.
Start your Day out Right What I mean by this is that before you even get out of bed, try give thanks for the positive things in your life. Tell yourself that you are going to have a great day-or just that you’re going to make it through the day-Don’t look in the mirror and say “UGH!” Look in that mirror and know that you don’t have a hangover and that’s a good thing. Force yourself to eat breakfast! Something healthy. I also journal. Sometimes it’s only a line or two and other times it’s pages. It really helps me.
Feed Yourself if you’ve followed me for a bit, you know that I have a strong food background. I also feel that food is and has a very spiritual component to it. All the years that I catered, I tried to be conscious that I was preparing food for others to take into their bodies. I also firmly believe that it is extremely important that we cook for ourselves and feed ourselves a proper diet. This is the best way that we can nurture ourselves. I get that sometimes, pre-made food is necessary-but not every meal. I believe that food not only supplies energy to our bodies, but it has energy. It has the energy of the one who has prepared it. To be honest, I’m pretty choosy about where I eat out-for just this reason. I love to put on some kind of healing music or even Cuban music (which I love) and cook. It makes me happy. It goes into my food. Think about it! I bet you can think of a time or two when the food has put out a certain “energy”. I realize that for many, preparing a meal was the perfect reason to start drinking. That was my drinking time. With my SO in the other room, I could slurp away during that time. So at first, I kept the food really simple and we started eating earlier-I found that usually, once I’d eaten the urge had passed. Of course there are lots of health benifits to eating earlier as well.
Get Healing Help What I mean by this is to reach out. Read some books. Make some calls if you need to. Find some pod casts that you resonate with. Don’t overload yourself with all of this, but again, explore ways to heal. These things don’t have to be about getting sober particularly. They can be about healing in general. There is so much online now, it’s so easy to check something out and see if it’s a fit for you. To see if there’s a particle of something that might be of help. Explore-find something that works for you.
Pace Yourself If you’re like me-you should be able to do this. While I am “an all or nothing” kind of person-when it came to my nightly “allotment” of a bottle of wine, I was really good at pacing myself. As I’ve written before, I was a pro at making it take 2 hours to throw together an omelet! That’s because I was pacing my drinking! In this case what I mean is to take the time you need when you need it. Don’t try to do it all at once. The one-and most important-thing is to get through the day without drinking-then the week and forward. Don’t stop drinking, start a new diet, join a gym and sign up for volunteer work all on the same day. Take it slow. You’ll know when you’re really ready to take on another thing. Try not to put to much pressure on yourself. There is no timeline and no deadline. This is an ongoing change that will be constantly evolving. Evolving even when it feels like you’re at a standstill. To be honest, it’s drinking that keeps us from evolving-keeps us stuck in old patterns and ways of being. Once that is out of the picture, life continues to flow and evolve.
You may be feeling raw right now, vulnerable. That’s okay! It’s all new. New can be scary. While “life happens” try to keep things as simple as possible. When I was first sober-at about 3 months- my SO and I went to Hong Kong. WOW! That was way too much for me at that point! While I never really wanted to drink and didn’t have that issue, in retrospect I realized that I wasn’t grounded enough in my “new way of being” to handle so much. I had a kind of sensory-emotional overload. I didn’t realize it at the time-but when we got back home, I just kind of blew a fuse. To be honest, we’d planned the trip a few months before I quit-and I didn’t even think about what an impact the whole thing would have on me. So, if you think that you may not feel comfortable in a situation and you can get out of it-do!
However you’re going about it, the thing is- You’re trying! That counts for so much! More than you know!
Bravo to you!