I haven’t shared too much about my struggles with alcohol. After I had stopped purging and left behind the worst of my food binges, I started drinking more. Wine, mainly.
From the outside, maybe it looked like I was doing better. I had lost some weight and wasn’t as hung up on food and what I was eating, at least in public. That was what I wanted myself and others to see and believe. It was easier to pass on “bad” food calories — I wanted to save some for alcohol and “treating” myself at the end of the day. (Though as I drank too much, I’d rationalize eating more and more, so that line of thinking was flawed).
Alcohol became my crutch, my soother, my way to numb out, taking the reins from food.
It wasn’t that I had healed from my eating disorders. While some healing had taken place, there were huge dark crevasses inside where I felt shitty, crappy, like a failure, and way not enough. No, alcohol was just taking food’s place. And man, it was a seductive charmer, allowing me to let go of the cares of the day and relax into its embrace.
The fact that I hated my job? No problem! Forget about it for a while. It doesn’t matter. Hate what I see looking back at me in the mirror? Honey — you’re looking hotter with a drink or two or five.
And it worked! At least until I woke up, feeling even worse. Not only was I still fat (at least in my mind), now I had a ferocious headache to start the day. I was an even bigger failure, a total weakling. Great. The solution? Make it through the day and then go home and have a glass of wine.
Getting pregnant was a saving grace — I had made the decision I wasn’t going to drink while pregnant. The absence of alcohol in my system made crystal clear how crappy I usually felt. It was eye-opening. However, it wasn’t until after my second pregnancy and my little girl was around one that I could see the connection for me between alcohol and fun. My story: alcohol = fun. I couldn’t have a good time, relax and unwind, without alcohol. (And if alcohol wasn’t available, food was a good substitute.) Until I admitted that to myself and came clean, nothing was going to change.
Looking back, I can see pieces of how this story came about. Probably a post for another day. In any case, three huge “get this now” learnings for me:
- Numbing out can take various forms: alcohol, food, Facebook, TV, etc. The behaviors are related.
- If you don’t deal with whatever is going on, it’s not going to go away. You can push it down but it’ll come back, maybe in some other form. Numbing out doesn’t fix anything.
- Numbing out makes me miss out on my life. I can’t show up to what is around me. And missing out on my life hurts — and this hurt can’t be fixed by more alcohol.
I don’t think alcohol is the devil. Some folks seem to enjoy it as an addition to an occasion and not the reason for the occasion. Cool if that works for them. Aside from a one-off champagne toast at a wedding or a sip of my husband’s wine if I were to really feel like it, it’s just not for me. Having a sip doesn’t make me want to drink the entire glass, and I’m grateful. However, I see that the old story of “this is the way to fun!” still pop ups up sometimes, and I know that I can’t find my happiness at the bottom of a bottle.