It turned out to be true: I found reading about other people's stories helpful and actualizing of my own experiences. More so, I found that these books were able to give words to my feelings and the undercurrents of my relationship with alcohol that I lacked before the read.
Here are some quotes from Knapp that really hit home for me:
"There I was, sweaty and hung over and literally trying to muscle my body into a different state."
Since I've stopped drinking, I can't make myself kill it at the gym anymore. I was using exercise as a counterbalance and punishment for drinking and the bad eating that went with it. The more I drank the more I beat myself up with exercise. I don't have the drive anymore to prove to myself that I'm healthy, and I'm settling into a healing new routine: 2.5k jog with the dog every day, yoga once or twice a week, one day of weights and I just signed up for weekly tennis lessons. I'm learning to listen to my body, not my guilt or maintaining perceptions of balance.
"Liquor eases. Liquor soothes and protects, a psychic balm. Did that set me on the road to Alcoholism? I wouldn't have thought so as a teenage or young adult...I made connections between drinking and camaraderie, drinking and machismo, drinking and sophistication."
Until I started reading I really didn't question why I drank-it was because it made me happy, cool, connected, and enhanced the fun. I didn't consider the possibility that I drank for soothing pains and numbing feelings. When did that change? Obviously from last post I do have some emotions that are surfacing that I have held down under a layer of booze for a long time. How could I have been so oblivious?
"Drinking was the best way I knew, the fastest and simplest, to let my feelings out and to connect, just sit there and connect, with another human being."
Yes! YES. That is still how I feel much of the time. I feel exposed and vulnerable to look a friend in the eyes without a filter-to just sit and authentically connect. The fear of rejection or misunderstanding is terrifying when I think of it but in the moment I'm so present and feel rooted.
"Alcoholic drinking is by nature solitary drinking, drinking whose true nature is concealed from the outside world and, in some respects, the drinker as well. You think you're drinking to have fun, to be sociable or more relaxed. But you're also drinking to shut down, to retreat."
Another glimpse into myself that will slowly crack open to be pondered and nurtured. I actually really enjoyed drinking alone. It really was a way to relax the needs to "do," to quiet the mind from the task-master I am. There was always moments of panic and fear as the drink passed me from relaxation to retreat. That tiny space where the dark emotions surfaced for a second, then were buried again.
"Drinking alone is what you do when you can't stand the feeling of living in your own skin."
Horrifying! No way to live, so sad. That is where I was heading.
"Bad things didn't happen every time I drank, but every time something bad did happen, drinking was involved."
Yep. 100% yes to that. Without drink I never slept with someone unexpectedly, or stay up until dawn, or spend hundreds of dollars on food and drinks, or make an ass out of myself, or find myself in situations that were just not good for me.
I also found clarity in her progressive formulas for drinking and emotions:
Discomfort+Drink=No Discomfort (I think I was here)
These formulas ring true for the slow progression of the relationship with drinking over time. While the progress happens, I believe many probably still think they drink to feel open. At least I did, until I stopped drinking and started looking back.
I used to drink with the best of them, but I don't anymore. My life is so much better for it.
-Drinking: A Love Story by Caroline Knapp