Understanding triggers

12 Oct

10:34 pm

I’m embarrassed, but I know you guys won’t judge.

I drank. I mean, I got drunk. For the first time since my quit date of March 18, 2013. And yes, the whole bottle, of course. I know it’s going to be a one-time thing, primarily because being hung over sucks. And, my body and mind can’t take another one.

Why did I drink? Half of me is like, I did it to “just get it over with,” and half of me is like, I did it because I wanted to try and see what it was like–not sure if I could or would moderate (which to me would have been two glasses, not the four I had). I think Paul blogged something that is exactly right: you try to fit back into it, and it doesn’t fit!

Now, the fact that I’ve been obsessing about this one freaking bottle of wine for like months? Wondering, planning, and then, finally drinking and being hung over for 12 hours? Houston, we DO have a problem. And it’d called alcoholism. I’m not sure what it means, precisely, but I can no longer deny that um, I am not normal when it comes to drinking, and er, recovery might very well be a lifelong thing.

Oy. Hangovers still suck. Suckage. Blargh.

Right now, I think I just feel like WHOA, too many things. Too much stuff. The ending of one life, the embracing of a new one. Confronting unresolved issues, and yes, personality problems. Wondering where my money for November is going to come from. Job searching (am I too old? I wonder, here, if I am too old) and freelancing and stressing about my savings, which is low. I was and continue to be a lurker–I despise that about myself.

What I do know is that wine did not help. And, this hangover will not happen again. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but on a scale of 1 to 10, it’s up there around 7 or 8. Swirling head, anxiety, sadness, thinking of death (of my own, of my boyfriend’s), weeping for at least an hour, if not more; and then, trudging around the cold, dark city realizing that THIS IS MY PAST. These are well-worn paths. And, they are triggers.

I’ve come to have a newfound understanding of triggers. Triggers are not just the people, places, and things, but, they are ways of being, of thinking, of feeling that are embedded in us, and that take work to excavate. They don’t disappear overnight–in fact, they still reside in us, intact, like living fossils. I feel like I’m sad, and depressed, and a lurker (i.e., I have no life, but everyone else does–my one huge “reason for drinking” back in the day). I feel these things, as if they are real, right now-feelings. As if I am still that person. And, then, my reaction is still that person’s: I want to drink, and I drink, and I feel hungover and spend the day writhing and alone.

Yet, none of this makes sense! How could it be? These feelings are totally out of context. I am FREE of that past, aren’t I? I mean, I am no longer sad, no longer depressed, no longer a lurker–I have my own life, one that gives me a lot of joy. I have my boyfriend, 2.5 years living together; our dogs; friends who have become like family; an entire career carved out of sober work. Two years before that I moved my person out of this town–so, it’s been 4 years since I left.

I stored my stuff, though, and I can see how clearing out the unit might be sort of representative of what’s going on here–what I’m mourning is, the actual decision to finally say goodbye and move on. Maybe literally, maybe figuratively. I mean, it’s a great city and I think I could form a new, amazing life here.

It’s a lot to say goodbye to. And, while I am in tears again thinking about it, my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. Talk about ambivalence! It takes what it takes, I guess. I am finally ready to let go and move on. I am finally allowing myself to see that this place can trigger me–activate that stored stuff, that radioactive material that simply takes work to lose, if we are lucky enough to be able to apply constant effort.

I mean, it’s just WEIRD. How can I still be there, when I’m here? How can I still feel the feelings of HER, back THEN, when I’m me, now? It’s just so weird. These triggers–they are deeper than I realized, and more ingrained. And yes, it IS easier to not be triggered into that past when you leave the scene of the crime, so to speak. I’m not sure if moving is the answer for all of us, but it has profoundly affected me–in a good way.

Maybe I’m just awful at saying goodbye. Of holding on when I shouldn’t. I’ve always held on, clung to the past to the point, I guess, of living in it. Or, if not actually living, then dwelling on it such that I’m not living in the present. Why is this, when the past sucked ass? I mean, yes, a lot of living was done here, but a lot of pain happened, too. I love being in a relationship–I can see now why I was so depressed here. Afraid to admit that I wanted–needed–someone else. I always saw that as a bad thing; now, it’s the ONLY thing (that makes my day worth having).

I miss my dogs, and I miss my boyfriend, and I miss our life. And I’m going back to that! And, I see how lonely this place can still make me feel. So, why am I sad about releasing it?

I’m OK, and getting right back on the horse. I know that this has to be a one-time thing; I’m not sure how it wouldn’t be, based on how awful I’ve felt all day. I’m not used to this, and I don’t want to be here. Letting it go as a slip, and moving forward tomorrow.

(In case you’re wondering what it was like, it was pretty uneventful. I felt…somewhat sweaty, and then, somewhat awake, and a slight bit of a buzz in the beginning; but mostly, I just felt anesthetized. But, in a bad way. So, yes, spending your Saturday evening sober is WAY better than sitting there, drinking shitty wine that tastes like cough syrup and makes you feel nothing but numb. I’ve done both, and I can honestly say that being sober is, in fact, a better way to spend the night. Especially if you don’t get buzzed anymore, if you only just get numbed.)

36 Responses to “Understanding triggers”

  1. Sober Politico October 12, 2014 at 11:45 pm #

    Just remember not to be too hard on yourself!

  2. MagzShores @ SoberCourage October 13, 2014 at 12:45 am #

    Thank you for being honest and sharing your experience, I am sure it will help many. I had many relapses, some slips – like one nighters – It’s crappy when it no longer works. BUT. Glad to hear that you’re back and that sober IS better! Hang in. Keep moving forward. Sending many hugs!

  3. littlemsjones October 13, 2014 at 3:14 am #

    It kind of sounds like this needed to happen, in a way. And now it has you can keep moving.

  4. Lilly October 13, 2014 at 4:08 am #

    Hello love,

    I have done some recent ‘experimenting’ myself, which maybe has been obvious from my long silence (it hasn’t been as bad as that may sound and I am ok and keep meaning to post but have been kind of embarrassed myself, which has kept me away, which isn’t good so… ANYway…) but I jumped on for the first time in awhile and saw this and had to reply.

    It is ok. You are ok. You are not that girl anymore. But you are remembering where you were once at. And maybe this is a good thing? Maybe you needed that reminder/reinforcement that you have moved on and changed and this doesn’t fit for you anymore and things are better on the other side.

    Personally, I think we can go so long – and I saw this in some of your earlier posts so I wasn’t 100% surprised to read this – that we forget the bad. For me anyway, and perhaps for you too from the sound of it – we start minimising the bad, and romanticising the wine, and think it will be way better than it ever really is. For me in a way the hardest bit is when I drink and it is not really ‘that bad’ because then I start wondering if the effort of being sober is really necessary or worth it. So, in a way, that it was anticlimatic and the hangover sucked is actually good.

    This doesn’t change anything about how far you have come or how much you have learned. Just shore up the learnings here and dust yourself off and move on. Onward glittery unicorn!


    Lilly xo


    • carrythemessage October 13, 2014 at 9:56 am #

      Love what you said, Lilly. And so glad to see you again…I was thinking about you the other day and was hoping you were well.


      • Lilly October 13, 2014 at 7:59 pm #

        Thanks Paul. There’s been a lot going on unrelated to sobriety, but I feel bad I fell off the face of the earth here though and have been meaning to let people know I am ok! I hope you are well too. I am so behind on what all my blog friends have been up to! xx

    • Running From the Booze October 13, 2014 at 8:18 pm #

      Hi Lily!! 🙂

      • Lilly October 16, 2014 at 12:19 am #

        Hello! 🙂

    • themiracleisaroundthecorner October 28, 2014 at 11:56 am #

      Lilly! I was just thinking about you too, and tried to head over to your blog and could not? I am not the most technologically advanced individual (read: complete idiot), but I tried to make a request. So glad to see your comment, and hopefully I will figure out how to get back to your blog!

  5. Christina October 13, 2014 at 4:21 am #

    I really relate to your post. Been there, done that…but not once…Sometimes you need to test the limits and see how it feels. It’s done and checked so do not be to hard on yourself! No matters how many times you fall as long as you get back up and continue working on it! You have done a great job so far! xxxxooo

  6. changingcoursenow October 13, 2014 at 9:03 am #

    So very happy that you came forward to US with your story. I feel we are all like FAMILY and are easy to talk to. WE are sending you a big hug and wishing you well moving forward. Trish

  7. Me(soberinNY) October 13, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    You slipped. That’s it. So now, you don’t drink again. I did the same thing last Sunday. Went to AA the next day to repair my spirit. You will learn from this, it’s part of the journey! Read A Dappled Paths blog, she talks about the same thing. 😘. You will get past this. Staying honest is the best thing for your soul!

  8. carrythemessage October 13, 2014 at 9:55 am #

    Sorry to hear things went sideways there, my friend. But grateful that you are back on the horse.

    Lots of insight here and some self-awareness. I think you are getting to the crux of all of this – letting go of who and what we used to be like, our old thinking, and also about seeking what completes us which is within us. It may not feel like it, but everything we need to feel whole is already in us, but we haven’t been able to see it or connect with it because I numbed everything with booze. I know it sounds airy-fairy and new age-y, but for me, that’s where I am at now. I have problems seeking validation outside of myself – first with booze, then with attention seeking, then with X, Y and Z…but I am learning that I am enough. And so are you! You are worthy and enough.

    The greatest victory I have had is in letting go and surrendering. The boozy days are done for me, and I do it willingly and with love for myself.

    Big hugs

  9. iamsobernow October 13, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    “Triggers are not just the people, places, and things, but, they are ways of being, of thinking, of feeling that are embedded in us, and that take work to excavate. They don’t disappear overnight–in fact, they still reside in us, intact, like living fossils.”

    Thank you for your courage in sharing. There is great insight here: “How can I still feel the feelings of HER, back THEN, when I’m me, now?”. It is a weird feeling when I have to deal with the old me that has been around a lot longer than the new me. Excavating and moving the old stuff out is painful.

    Congratulate yourself for the progress you’ve made because you ARE a new, improved version of you. Good to hear that you’re getting back up on that horse. 🙂 Sending you a hug!

  10. Running From the Booze October 13, 2014 at 11:35 am #

    Quick hug!! Back later when after I get home from work. ❤️

  11. Lynne Sherman October 13, 2014 at 11:41 am #

    I just found this blog yesterday, but it was a timely thing. I had been sober for exact number of days you were when I decided to experiment. It was on vacation actually, and the beautiful scenery, the cool place we were staying, the mounds of stress prior to the vacation made me say “screw it, I am going to drink”. My first day was great, I got the whole dreamy relaxed feeling, quit after two glasses of wine, and entertained the notion that maybe I could control and enjoy drinking now. The week of vacation went on, and the last night when I had to pack to catch a flight the next day, I do not remember at all.

    Here is what I learned, you have to remember the bad feelings, and for me it took me a long while to commit to being sober again. It was almost like the questionable diet mentality of “I ate this one piece of cake, so I might as well eat a gallon of ice cream too”. Hang in there, you may find yourself saying that you could drink tonight too, since you already drank last night. Don’t give in to it, remember how good sobriety was and check in for support. Major kudos for sharing your experience! I lied to everybody by omission, which I think made things worse, the guilt for claiming my sobriety when I felt so guilty. You are clearly more evolved than I was. Now, forgive yourself, be thankful you got to see how quickly you back to that person you were. Thanks for reminding me why I have to keep at this, because I am you!

  12. Daisy October 13, 2014 at 12:16 pm #

    Hug, just started following but I wanted to say ‘don’t be too hard on yourself’ so you tried it, it was shit, take that to move forward. Who wants numb. Hugs. Virtual ones, from a stranger, but well meant. Although that sounded very creepy. 🙂

  13. runningonsober October 13, 2014 at 12:27 pm #

    Hey, you stumbled, but you learned from it, and now you’re getting back up. And you’re sharing so we can learn from it too. It’s a good reminder for us all.

    Look back at some of your past posts. I think you’ll see it building up. Then next time, when you see the same things, you’ll be able to change course.

    Can’t change the past…but we can learn from it.

  14. ainsobriety October 13, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    I commented on your last post because I could see this was where you were heading. Shoukd I have tried harder to make you see? Can an anonymous person influence you? It’s hard to say.

    The worst, most painful hangover is not enough to get an alcoholic to stop drinking. I hear it in meetings all the time. How horrifying the hangovers were (mine included). But the physical misery is forgotten quickly. And the compulsion to numb returns. It’s always there.

    Build your sober bubble back up. Find support for this period of stress and change. You are still that old girl. We are the sum of our experiences. Knowledge doesn’t protect us from addiction. Actions do.

    Be gentle with yourself. Don’t let “wolfie” push you into acting from fear instead of love.

    You have lots of support from the sober sphere!


    • Just Some Woman October 13, 2014 at 5:57 pm #

      As Anne said, I saw it coming too. Your’re just like the rest of us… sometimes we have to figure things out the hard way. This was just something that you had to get out of the way and that’s probably a good thing. Now you know where you stand. And that particular brand of self-awareness is priceless to the alcoholic.
      Don’t despair…you can come out on the winning side!

  15. xx566819xx October 13, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    Good luck with it all! Lovely writing. Have started on a similar topic if you have a moment to stop by xx

  16. carrieonsober October 13, 2014 at 5:47 pm #

    Huge hugs from London, and remember to be kind to yourself…always. Guilt, shame and all those other post drinking feelings are what keep us stuck cause we don’t think we deserve to have better, to be happy.
    You know what you need to do now, you know you can rock at it too. Take baby steps back and go gently on yourself.
    Nothing is in vain, everything here has a purpose and helps someone.
    Thanks for being brave…

  17. Mrs D October 13, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

    I’m so pleased you wrote that last paragraph because I always want to ask ‘But what was it LIKE???”…. the further away I get from drinking the less I can imagine it for reals.. or the more I build it up to something magic where it’s not.. or something. Hope you are feeling ok DDG.. xxx

  18. Running From the Booze October 13, 2014 at 8:37 pm #

    I was going to comment more once I got home but after reading Lily’s comment again, I don’t have anything to add. She’s right, this doesn’t take anything away from what you’ve learned or from how far you’ve come. Take care DDG. 🙂

  19. rivieradinah October 14, 2014 at 9:41 am #

    Thank you for sharing this with us. Your honesty helps others so much…it’s just too easy to forget what it was like to be drinking. I hope you’re lifted up by this sober blogosphere…it’s wonderful to see this kind of support. As others have said, I think the most important thing is to pour love into yourself, not wine. ❤

  20. Keri October 14, 2014 at 11:03 am #

    Yes, please, more than anything; do NOT go and start your count at Day 1 again, ok? That will just make this more momentous than it need be. Continue with March of last year as your day and keep on keepin’ on! It was a moment in time, and it’s over; shit happens, life goes on. 🙂

    Excellent, excellent post!

  21. leavingjose2day October 14, 2014 at 2:45 pm #

    I really admire your honesty and willingness to write about this event. I can relate to so much of what you say about the past and the underlying triggers. Sometimes the people in your life just don’t get that they may not be the trigger. The trigger may actually be the feelings that their presence (or lack thereof) evokes. Continue to be strong. I can tell that you are! Much luck to you.

    • Anonymous October 15, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

      I think she is better off changing her sobriety date. What happens if she (god forbid) gets drunk again? Does two drunks require a changed date or three?

      She gets a fresh start with a new date, and the old date is no longer her sobriety date because she got drunk.

      She is open and honest in all her blogging. So let’s be honest with her too.

  22. getupflyaway October 16, 2014 at 8:33 am #

    I am rooting for you. Maybe you can change your blog title to: Sobery, Sober Girl.

  23. Jim Hill October 22, 2014 at 11:15 am #

    You had a slip. It happens. When times are tough and you are really aching for that drink, many people fold under the pressure, so you were not the only one. But now, you seem determined to not let that happen again. Others have to find assistance outside of their home and look for a sober living house, whereas everyone you come in contact with is trying to do the same thing. Not drink. An interesting article here:


    Excellent post and keep us updated as to how things are going!!

  24. meanmatcha October 22, 2014 at 3:58 pm #

    Your blog is giving me shivers. We have so much in common – upbringing, family history, fears, thoughts, triggers, patterns. I feel your pain, I understand your thinking process, I grasp the complexity of your emotions. I feel as if you are writing my life.

    I teared up at few of your entries.

    Had few “eureka” moments as well.

    I copied some of your quotes into my phone and I read them when I feel myself sinking… and when things are very good.

    Through opening up and sharing your experience you are making my life better.
    So thank you very very much for that. Your blog is one of the most helpful things that I have found…

    Few other things that made a huge impact on my life are The Work by Katie Byron and Faster EFT. I’m not sure if that would float your boat…but wanted to share neverless.

    Thank you once again

    • Drunky Drunk Girl October 22, 2014 at 9:05 pm #

      Aww, you are welcome! I am SO glad this is helping someone–many times I’ve thought my blog is just rambling nonsense! I will check out the links you sent. Good luck, and email me anytime…

  25. themiracleisaroundthecorner October 28, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    DDG, as always, thank you so much for your honesty and courage in sharing. So glad you’re back!

  26. themadnessstopsnow December 4, 2014 at 3:36 pm #

    I read this a couple of weeks ago and just came back to read it again. And I hope I’ll read it AGAIN if and when I think I might just want to see what it would be like to have a glass (bottle) of wine!

  27. Jen M February 25, 2015 at 12:17 am #

    I’m new to this blog thing but am enjoying learning about it as well as searching for blogs like yours that I can relate to.

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