The “drinking thinking” goes away

11 Mar

11:10 am

Lately, I’ve been reading posts–and remembering my own thinking circles–about the thinking that COMES WITH drinking (to excess).

You know what I’m talking about, and many of you (us) have told and continue to tell ourselves that we’re fucked up, or it’s our fault, or it’s somehow PART OF US.

IT IS NOT. It’s part of drinking; it’s part of addiction. Remove the drinking and you remove the “drinking thinking.” For me, it began to disappear around 15 months (of mostly continuous sobriety).

I mean, the thoughts of guilt, of shame, of remorse. The sheer obsession with how much we drink, drank, or drunk. No matter how much we drink now–could be a glass, a bottle, two–we feel bad about doing so. Like, really bad. Like, telling everyone and their uncle how sorry we are that we drank. NO ONE CARES. Believe me, no one is getting why we are “so upset.” We get it, because we’ve drunk to embarrassing, mind-mutilating excess a million times before. We get it, because we’ve endured hangovers that come with face-erasing (literally, once I could not feel my face for about 15 minutes) panic attacks in the local drug store, in the middle of the street, at our desks at work, on long drives up the coast. They do not get that, but we do.

Is it real, this guilt, this paranoia that the world will “find us out?” Yes. Is it “part of us?” NO!

I mean, the ruminations on how much of a shit we are, a failure, inept, incompetent. That’s the booze talking. That’s the alcohol working its magic on our neurons.

I mean, the obsession with “getting sober,” the idea that EVERYONE gets sober because it’s a life-threatening prospect, to keep drinking. That, too, is the booze wending its way into our circuits, and staying there because we can’t imagine that our brains will ever flush it all out. As if we are damaged for life. I was talking to someone the other day who hasn’t touched a drink in 20 years. I was like, Oh, so…DID YOU GET SOBER? Hushed whisper on my part. A look of confusion, a blank stare on his. No, he said, I just felt better not drinking.

Not everyone gets sober; some people just stop drinking. Not everyone deals with this depressive, anxious, self-berating thinking that evolves as we become alcoholics. YES, BECOME. We are not “born” drunks. We develop a problem; we become alcoholics; we engage with our tendency to feel bad, but the booze makes that tendency come out a million times worse. Not everyone feels guilty about saying crass things while drunk. Not everyone feels bad about picking fights. We not only feel really bad, but we ruminate on this, and continue to pick it apart until, well, we drink again SO THAT WE CAN FORGET.

These thoughts become us, but they are not us. And, as I’ve seen–and I think I’m as good an example as anyone, though there are some out there who would say I’m not a “real alcoholic”–these thoughts go. The circular thinking subsides. The guilt dissipates. You begin to see that what you did, well, you did. But, you can move on. You stop saying you’re sorry because…well, your thinking gets clearer. Less depressive, less anxious, less circular, less ruminative and prone to overanalyzing.

Anyway, I have a bunch of work to do today, but just wanted to check in. I’ve got about a week to go until my one year anniversary, but I’m not really whoop-whooping what to me has simply become about living–not “living sober.” More on that in another post.

15 Responses to “The “drinking thinking” goes away”

  1. Learning Living Freely March 11, 2014 at 11:27 am #

    Ohhh this is great. And I NEVER hear anyone talk about it. Thank you for bringing it up.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl March 11, 2014 at 11:35 am #

      Awesome! I know…it’s so key to getting and staying sober, understanding that a lot of this ruminative thinking (that may or may not be related to innate depression, or anxiety, disorders) is totally FROM THE BOOZE. Thanks for your comment! xx

  2. Peggy March 11, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

    Totally spot on. I agree ruminative thinking keeps us sick. It takes time to see clearly without booze that I don’t have to be anxious, depressed or have a friggen squirrel running through my heads non stop. yahoo! Awesome that you are approaching 1 year! Congrats!

  3. novemberdry March 11, 2014 at 5:30 pm #

    I like this post b/c it also reminds me that culturally, we tend to be fixated on extremes. Crazy horrible worst-ever drunk or the pinnacle of perfection–sober, attending AA, not even TEMPTED to drink again. One or the other. I hate that kind of thinking but definitely catch myself having that kind of fixed mindset! Congratulations on all of your hard work and growth.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl March 11, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

      Exactly! Black-and-white thinking: guilty! I think I’ve based my whole life on that kind of thinking style, and I’m finding that the longer I am sober, the more I can see it and can fix it–doesn’t have to be related to drinking or addiction, even. Thanks for reading and commenting…

  4. erics1100paces March 11, 2014 at 8:16 pm #

    Very interesting post. I’ll have to re-read this a couple of times and more fully process what you have said. My initial reaction is that somewhere in this post is the core contradiction I’ve wrestled with for years.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl March 11, 2014 at 9:53 pm #

      Huh…interesting comment. I think for me, I came to believe that this person was me, but I’m seeing a calmer, less thoughtful person now that I’m sober. I’ve realized–for myself, anyway–that there is a lot of “becoming” when it comes to neurotic thinking, and that becoming is basically fed by drinking. It seems like, duh, but like you said, I also see something contradictory in my words and I’m going to think (haha) about it more to figure out what that is. Thanks for your comment!

  5. barista1971 March 11, 2014 at 8:51 pm #

    I have just realized that my girlfriend doesn’t understand this because this doesn’t happen to her when she drinks…she is totally ok with herself the next day….I am terrified the next day and for days afterwards…I totally want to crawl into a whole and I feel like that is what I deserve….I totally get you!!!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl March 11, 2014 at 9:44 pm #

      Right? I wonder, is it because we are inherently prone to ruminate, that our drinking IS that much worse and is causing us to feel bad, or that–and I know this was true for me–we know/judge ourselves for being unable to control our intake to the way we think we should, that we feel guilty? AHH!

      • barista1971 March 12, 2014 at 7:26 am #

        I have a cycle…I go months, which is the reason my husband and others do not think I am an alcoholic, without drinking….90 days seems to be the magic number right now and I BINGE!!! I told my husband it is not how often I drink but what happens to me when I do drink. I am also a perfectionist…I like to be very organized and my day has a routine to it and when I binge I am not organized, I am sloppy, messy and unkind…..thanks so much for this post!

  6. Cheese March 12, 2014 at 12:17 am #

    This makes so much sense. Thank you for your blog. I look forward to your postings

  7. furtheron March 12, 2014 at 8:59 am #

    Great post. I have two friends who talked me after I got sober. One just thought on it and said “I shouldn’t drink” and stopped there and then, to my knowledge she’s never drunk again and doesn’t go on about it, doesn’t go to meetings or any of the stuff. She is happier now, much happier. Another fought and fought – 3 months in rehab later he is now like me on the AA trudge on the road to happy destiny. He talks about it like I do.

    There is the difference with someone who in my humble opinion only had an issue with alcohol and an alcoholic like me and my other friend. The obsession even when I’ve not drunk in nearly 10 years I still go on about it!

  8. Cat March 12, 2014 at 2:31 pm #

    Thanks for writing about this – I read somewhere that my biggest enemy is sitting on my neck, and it’s interesting to read your take on that. Even at 42 days sober, I’m noticing a shift in my thoughts but I’m definitely still dealing with the drinking thinking.

  9. Rebecca A. Watson March 14, 2014 at 7:57 am #

    Great post. Thanks for bringing it up. It makes me feel less crazy when I read that his stuff happens in other people’s minds too. Not that I *want* other people to deal with the horrible ickyness, really. But you know…when I tell my hubby about this stuff and I get a blank stare in return, I wonder “Am I the only one.” The answer is no. And I think you’re right, the longer you stay away from the booze, the quieter that thinking becomes, thank the gods.

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