I let sobriety bore me so I drank

We are here again, at a familiar place where I am contemplating taking you back.
After two years believing you are toxic, I think maybe you could be different this
time because I have a better understanding of myself. You are probably
wondering why I am suddenly coming back to you…honestly it feels too hard to
be without you. When I think of you, I have all these memories of all the
spontaneous things we’ve done together and the connections we have made. You
can make me confident and fun in a group of strangers. You give me excitement
and make me want to go out and be amongst people. I miss that woman….
although even when I’m writing this I’m torn because … it was only a month ago, I
tried taking you back. But again, you took the little bit of confidence I had left
away from me. I came running back because I felt lost and needed some
excitement. I thought you would give me that spontaneous rush I was looking for.
And, for a couple of hours it did, until you left me alone to vomit and pass out.
You left me for days to drown in my own self-loathing and depression. Again, you
brought out all my fears and insecurities and I can’t even recognise myself. Then
as I start to lift myself from this bottom, I can hear you call my name, and again I
am stuck in this endless loop. 

 
 
When I wrote this letter a while ago, I was unsure if I still believed in
sobriety. I was constantly playing mental gymnastics and it was exhausting. So,
like I have done many times before I wrote a letter to alcohol so I could separate
its voice from myself. The alcohol voice can be so loud it’s hard to hear what your
true self really needs. It wasn’t until writing this reflection, that I relised I was
missing excitement in my life.

When I chose to drink alcohol that night, I wasn’t craving alcohol I was craving the excitement I thought alcohol could fulfill. Except it didn’t, because if it did why was I still sending out dozen of texts and swallowing dexys like I was eating a pack of mentos. For those who don’t know what dexys are, it is a stimulant which treats attention deficiency used for people diagnosed with ADHD and from my knowledge I do not have ADHD. Again alcohol wasn’t enough to give me the excitement I was craving, so I was bingeing on anything else that could give me the high I was looking for until it registers in my drunken haze that the high doesn’t exist and all I desperately want is to be sober again. From my experience this is usually a good time to vomit and pass out.

So if you can’t get your excitement from booze, how do you fulfil that craving because I promise you, you will have this craving during your sobriety. Pay attention because you need hear this ASAP – REAL EXCITEMENT IS GETTING YOURSELF OUTSIDE OF YOUR COMFORT ZONE!
The concept of “comfort zone” is a familiar one because it makes us feel safe. When we are in our comfort zone, we can keep a level of confidence because we aren’t taking too many risks.
Although, at times our comfort zone can be a prison which can stop us from
missing out on the exciting things in life.

This is what can happen when we become sober, we get stuck in a life where we feel comfortable. Away from triggers, a way from any situation that doesn’t fit into our sober bubble. When the
pink cloud of sobriety wears off life can become mundane and somewhat boring.
For a lot of us who binge drink we have personality traits which are impulsive and
excitement seeking. So just because we become sober doesn’t mean those
personality traits aren’t still there, which is why it can lead to other bingeing
behaviours.

But, the wonderful part about sobriety is its excitement and spontaneity, because
you aren’t chasing a high that doesn’t exist. From my own experience if I take the
option of drinking out of the equation, life becomes magical. Social events
become more exciting, because you can have deep meaningful conversations and
create connections that are real. When you truly connect with someone it feels
exhilarating. It’s those conversations that make you laugh until your belly hurts, or
makes you want to cry because you can feel what the other person is feeling.
Sobriety allows you to be spontaneous because you can do whatever you want.
You do what your true self wants not what alcohol is telling you to do or restricting you to do.

There is so much you can experience being sober, but it does mean taking a risk and trying
activities outside of your sober comfort zone. Start by creating a sober bucket list
and start ticking them off, whether it be going on a sober holiday, going on a
sober date, or learning an new hobby. Start creating new sober memories so your
brain can relearn that real excitement is not dependent on alcohol.

5 Ways to get your sobriety confidence back!

I could give you all the tips on how to deal with triggers, so you don’t drink but realistically some of us will slip up in our sobriety and by slip ups I mean we will consciously drink. Depending if you had a good or bad night on the booze your slip up could be a one-time thing or sometimes it can take us a while to get back to our sobriety. You may even catch yourself thinking maybe sobriety isn’t for me anymore, maybe I am just a drinker now.

I want to tell you something, just because you had a drink doesn’t make you are a drinker. The problem when people slip up is they start to question their sober identity and start to seek confirmation that they are a drinker now. We are our worst critics so of course it’s easier for our egos to protect us and say well you better be honest with yourself maybe you aren’t cut out to be sober if you can’t do it 100%.

This is called a cognitive distortion which is when we seek out information that is consistent with old beliefs and ignore information which is inconsistent to this. For example, yes you had a slip up but what about all the days, months, or years that you have been sober. We all know how much work it takes to be sober, so are you just going to not appreciate everything you worked on prior to your slip up.  A similar scenario you get all distinctions on your assignments at uni and then you fail an assignment, it doesn’t mean you fail the subject because the distinctions still make up a percentage of your whole mark and so does the fail. So my biggest advice to you is don’t get stuck in the labels and remember why you are on this journey, not because you can’t drink, it’s because you want to enjoy life!


So here are 5 tips to get your sobriety confidence back!

  1. Remember you are a non-drinker. If I was a vegan and ate Macca’s chicken nuggets as a one off, would you suddenly come at me for not being a vegan even though I am vegan for 90% of the time? No! So don’t define your sobriety by your slip up!

  2. Exercise and have a sauna. Often after a slip up we feel ashamed, vulnerable and stressed because alcohol increases our stress hormone cortisol. You need your clarity and good mental health back so do some high intensity training or any form of exercise because it will decrease your cortisol which will reduce your anxiety, depression and increase your resilience. If you are struggling to even move your body have a sauna because the excessive sweating will reduce your frustration and relax your body. Saunas also help the brain release euphoric hormones. You need all the happy hormones you can get right now!

  3. Embrace the sober journey offline. Whilst there are some amazing sober accounts, social media can trigger our stress hormones and remember you want to decrease your cortisol and an adrenaline entering your body. So instead listen to sober podcasts, read books or attend a sober workshop or meeting.

  4. Go for coffee with a sober friend. A friend who won’t judge you but understands the journey you are on. You want to feel empowered to get back on the sober journey and be able to discuss what triggered you to drink. There is power in feeling connected, validated, and respected. If you don’t have a friend, you feel comfortable with, book in a therapy session. I would recommend doing both! The more you talk about it, the more you will start changing your thought patterns.

  5. Have self-compassion. I know this is a classic tip but it’s true. You are human and humans aren’t perfect. We live in a world where alcohol is easily accessible and acceptable. It can get exhausting always trying to fight against something the whole world is doing. Remember that this journey is about progress not perfection, so consolidate a list of all your strengths and all the healing work you have done. Practise mindfulness and be present in knowing you are a beautiful powerful queen but sometimes even queens can’t control the challenges life throws at us. 

I triggered someone and this is what I learnt

Today I want to discuss Freud’s theory, the ego which is the only conscious part of the personality. It’s what the person is aware of when they think about themselves.

We all have an identity we have created for ourselves, and we project this identity onto others. 
When the identity is threatened, our body thinks we are in danger, so we go into survival mode. We start to try and fix the problem so our bodies can feel balanced again.

 I had an incident on the weekend where I knew I was irritating someone. This person was openly showing me I got on his nerves. He kept making negative remarks and rolled his eyes when I spoke. Even when he didn’t speak, I could feel his aggressive energy towards me.
Unfortunately, I was in a group space where I couldn’t leave. 

When I first heard his irritation towards me, I was annoyed. 
I wanted to shout at him. “How dare he treat me like that?”
I could feel my body pumping with adrenaline, I couldn’t focus and all I could think about was how annoying he was. He had threatened my ego, he had threatened my belief that I was a likeable person. 

Then my anger suddenly turned into sadness and I became submissive.
“I will just please him and stop talking. I am annoying and I should just be quiet”.
 Now this was the super ego speaking. The super ego is the part of the unconscious that is the voice of conscience (doing what is right) and the sources of self-criticism. It’s the part that controls your ego so you don’t behave inappropriately. My super ego is, telling me this has happened before; I annoyed my mum when I was younger, that’s why she didn’t want to live with me. I was annoying in primary school, that’s why I got bullied. My super ego was trying to tell my ego I am an annoying person so I should change my behaviour, so I keep this man happy.

This is where we have to remember our bodies are always searching for balance and it will make up whatever story it needs, to solve the problem. The super ego is  powerful and that’s why we easily fall into the people pleasing trap. We are convinced if we change our behaviours to meet the person’s needs, we will please our ego by being the likeable person. Except it doesn’t work, me quietening down and not participating in the group didn’t make this man like me.
He still only grunted when I tried to say goodbye.

 The only thing it did was trigger me and gave me resentment because I wasn’t able to be myself in the group. I had changed my personality to try and meet someone else’s needs but to be honest I didn’t even know what his needs were.
So I had created a story to try and restore my ego and super ego.

We live in a world where we are going to trigger people. I can could get triggered by you and you wouldn’t even know it. I could get trigged by the coffee man because he is wearing a Cologne that smells like my ex-boyfriend and it’s brought up some uneasy feelings. Though it’s not the coffee man’s fault, and him changing his Cologne doesn’t change the story behind the trigger.

  There was nothing I could do to change why this person was triggered by me because only he knows the story which activated the trigger. I can only control the stories I create and not feed the stories that serve me negatively.
This man wasn’t triggered because I was annoying, like the reason why I was bullied and left by my mother because I was annoying. I was just a child. These people have their stories and only the person has control of how they react and feel to a situation.

Love Mel xxx

Are you stuck on an emotional rollercoaster?

We have been reading the book ‘How to do the work’ by Dr Nicole Lepera aka @the.holistic.psychologist in our members book club.
As part of the 75 soft challenge we are reading 10 pages a day which I have been fitting in before I go to sleep, loving it!

Dr Lepera highlights how childhood trauma can be influenced by having parents who don’t know how to regulate their emotions, which I resonated with.

Growing up with my grandmother, I had a confusing relationship with my mother and father.
Sometimes they would take me on lavish holidays yet I lived in Salvation Army housing with my grandmother and other times they would tell me how special I was yet they continued to cancel plans to visit me.
 My relationship with them was inconsistent and looking back now these were symptoms of not being able to self-regulate their emotions. I know my parents loved me but the
decisions they made were based on stress responses and these behavioural patterns would be passed onto me.

Even until recently theories suggested that stress was an on and off button like a light switch. We have been taught coping mechanisms at school and work based on being able to turn our stress on and off.
 Except the stress response is more complex than that which is why therapists should be educating their clients on the Polyvagal theory. 

How many times have you gone to therapy and talked about all this heavy stuff and then afterwards you are left feeling really overwhelmed?
Even though you got everything off your chest, you feel more worse than good because you haven’t been taught how to regulate your emotions.

I am going to explain the polyvagal theory simply because once you know it, you can start to understand your symptoms of stress and learn to manage it.

Basically, you have a big nerve that connects your brain to all the main organs in your body and it is called the vagal nerve. This nerve effects a variety of different functions but the main one I want to chat about today is how it manages three stress responses.

Ventral Vagal – It’s the state of social engagement. You find it easy to connect and relate to other people. It’s your balanced and present state. It can trigger feelings such as  joy, fun, contentment etc.

Sympathetic Activation – It’s the state of mobilisation. You want to run or take immediate action. It can trigger anxiety, frenzy, worry and you can find it really hard to focus. 

Dorsal Vagal Shutdown – It’s a state of demobilisation. You want to dissociate and hide. It can make you feel lethargic, detached, hopeless or shameful.

I think we can all imagine times when we are in the sympathetic system. I just have to remember the morning after a night out. Waking up in a panic, not wanting to check my phone but also trying to remember everything I did last night.  I wouldn’t focus on anything else but trying to re-collect the night.

Then as the days go on, I start to fall into a spiral of self-hatred and shame because your body can’t stay in the sympathetic system for long. Your body is always trying to search for an equilibrium which is why the Dorsal Vagal will take over. Except this system is only putting a cap over your stress, it’s like a pressure cooker ready to explode at any minute.

When we don’t know how to self-regulate or even have awareness of our stress, we struggle to get back to our ventral vagal, our balanced state of mind. Over-time our bodies adapt to functioning between the sympathetic and dorsal system which is why we crave chaotic lives.

Even society tries to condition us to live on this emotional rollercoaster. You only have to watch a movie and you are addicted to watching the drama the characters create. The love that is so intense that they can’t be together. Or the classic cliff hanger where the person is boarding the plane and only then does the partner feel the need to come running and express their love. Yes we know it’s corny but we love the drama!

It took me taking a couple years off alcohol to understand my love for drama and how it’s affected my nervous system. I didn’t have a chance to mange my emotions when I was drinking because alcohol was enhancing the highs and lows. Living like that wasn’t sustainable yet it had always been my normal.

Therefore sobriety is hard because you have to learn to live differently. The chaos starts to disappear and the emotional rollercoaster begins to slow down.
It can feel uncomfortable but it also feels so freeing because you no longer feel trapped in a vicious cycle. You no longer have to be reactive to problems you create, which can be exhausting.

Although it doesn’t mean you won’t still have cravings for chaos. Have you thought about those times when you feel bored, everything is going really well but you just feel like getting wasted. Next time this happens, try to be aware of what you are actually after? Are you wanting alcohol or are you craving the familiar feelings of chaos and drama?

If you are wanting to learn more about your nervous system and how to regulate your emotions, book in a chat and we can start planning your recovery.

Love Mel xxx

Alcohol, 3 reasons to go back to you…

1. Alcohol, It’s party season, you are at every event. Everyone is drinking you and I don’t want to be the odd one out. I want to have fun with my friends and you have always made this happen!

An ongoing internal battle, when did it become a thing that I needed alcohol to socialise with my friends. The past month I have been experimenting with no alcohol at social events. My friends are drinking but I simply choose not to. I remember now why I call them my friends because these are the people I have chosen to be close to in my life and they make me feel good. I take my non alcoholic wine to these parties and no one even questions me. I have also discovered I’m still fun when I am not drunk and my decision to not drink doesn’t make anyone feel uncomfortable. Yes there are times when It has been hard or tempting to drink but that feeling always passes. Now I spend my weekends catching up with more friends and not laying in bed hungover and depressed on Sunday!

2. Alcohol, work is stressful and my life is turning to chaos. I need you to let me escape for a moment and help me relax.

The past three weeks have been stressful and I have been tempted to have a wine to stop my thoughts for a moment. Though I know as soon as I would of taken that first sip, I’d be chasing the alcohol high until the bottle was gone. I had to remember when I used alcohol to numb the pain I would constantly wake up the next morning feeling anxious, groggy and tired. Now I wake up alert and motivated for the day. I realise now it’s not normal to wake up feeling shit, it’s not normal to still be half asleep whilst driving to work. Lately work has been hard and some bad shit has happened in my personal life but because I haven’t touched alcohol I have been able to stay rational, strong and determined to be happy.

3. Alcohol, you help me at work events to be confident and charismatic. You give the courage and motivation to be out with clients. You make work fun and exciting!

When I think about client entertaining and connecting with work colleagues, this is what really tempts me to drink. Reflecting on nights I have had with clients and colleagues over bottles of wine and music makes me want to go back to my drinking habits. Though when I dissect this, was it as good as I remembered? I also remember not turning up to work and if I did turn up I was dishevelled and unproductive. The other memories I have are making bad decisions and saying things I regret. The taxis home at five am in the morning being filled with anxiety knowing I had to work in a couple of hours. I use to think I wouldn’t be able to connect with clients and colleagues without alcohol but since being alcohol free this is not the case. When I am not drunk I am actually a better listener, my conversations are more engaging and I am present in the moment. Now when walking into the office I still have my dignity.

I stopped drinking with clients and this is what I learnt

Dear Alcohol,

Don’t worry you haven’t been forgotten. I still talk about you and I’m reminded of your existence every day. The thing is unless I quit my job and live under a rock you will always be there. I’m not trying to run away from you, I’m trying to stand up to you.

It’s the Monday morning sales meeting and the pressure is intense. The market is competitive and I have to stand out from my competitors to be successful. Sales is fast paced and if I am not out in the industry networking and reaching out to new clients I won’t be able to reach my targets. This industry expects a lot and I know my competitors are entertaining clients every night of the week, schmoozing over wine and cocaine until early hours of the morning.

It wasn’t long ago that sales manager was me. Long lunches, late night drinking and the dread of knowing I had to be at work the following day. Those early morning alarms where I have only had two hours sleep still make me shudder. When I finally did manage to get to work, I looked like shit and I stunk of booze. I could hardly string a sentence together and I was exhausted. It didn’t end there, this would continue for three days, post the client event. Every time I justified to myself that it was worth it. It was worth using alcohol to break down the barriers with a client so we could connect. I was so willing to make myself physically and mentally sick for three days to build a relationship with a human being. When did I start thinking like this?

I remember when I was young I’d go to parties and school dances with my friends. We would spend our holidays at the beach, explore the local mall, watch movies and have sleepovers. I was an only child so I was always meeting new kids and making new friends. Except back then I didn’t need alcohol to connect with people. It wasn’t until I was fifteen that I got introduced to booze and like everyone else I got addicted to the way it made me feel. I also liked that alcohol brought everyone together and allowed us to be our true selves. It felt like we were creating special bonds between each other. But looking back I realised I had already created those bonds and I was always myself before I had ever taken that first sip of alcohol.

This reliance on alcohol to connect with people isn’t real and has nearly ruined me so many time. As soon as I stopped drinking with clients I realised I didn’t need it. I am an empath so naturally I absorbed the energy from my clients. I forgot that I had the ability to be energised by someone else and I didn’t have to touch a drop of alcohol. When I stopped drinking I started to really enjoy being present with my clients, I loved conversing and actually listened to what they wanted. Being sober allowed me to be authentic and not a person who didn’t have to run to the bathroom every ten minutes.

Now I know one of the main reasons I hadn’t stopped drinking with clients sooner was because I wasn’t confident enough to believe that people would like me or want to do business with me without alcohol. Now it’s empowering to know that my success doesn’t come from alcohol, it comes from me.

Alcohol, why would I let you take credit for that?