Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Double Digits

Made it to Day 10.  Night 10, actually, which is how I like it. Chores done, house buttoned down, jammies on (okay that happens way early in the evening) and unwinding.

Lot from which to unwind, too--today I dealt with a lot of anger and that's my biggest trigger emotion. Going all the way back to childhood I learned to just Not Express Anger either because it wouldn't do any good or because one got in trouble if one did or because people just plain didn't like it...and somewhere along the way I learned that stuffing my mouth full of food (or better yet booze but that came a bit later) didn't necessarily take the anger away but was nice and distracting and comforting in its own twisted way.

Flash forward to a mother whose response to all life's negative emotions was "here, have a drink." Took that with me to a new family and they were all too happy to play along.  Anger + booze = less anger.  Anger + enough booze = forget what you were mad about. Rinse, repeat.

Yeah, well, today I was mad most of the day but not drinking and not even overeating. It was all family stuff of course, mostly relating to the relatives in the other house calling up for what I thought were dumb reasons combined with having to share a car with Middle Child and the dog misbehaving but it was very ire-inducing at the time and I was not a happy camper most of the day.

What I did was a whole lot of "just sit with the emotions."  Learned that one from Caroline Knapp back in 2004 when I quit for a little over 4 months. Way easier said than done, too. Sure the first impulse is to do whatever it takes to just stop feeling the unpleasant feelings -- bath, exercise, housecleaning, distracting games or reading or whatever -- and if it's a craving those things often work but if it's a freaking self-generated in-response-to-something emotion then you're just running from the inevitable. Turns out nothing really happens if you sit there mad and fuming other than Youngest asking "are you okay?" and as long as one can maintain a civil enough tone, it's perfectly okay to say "No! I'm mad about X and Y and Z and I'll get over it eventually but right now I'm still pissed."

Well, no, something does  happen: you replay it in your head till you get sick of the tape loop then figure out a way to improve your situation. In my case that was to wait till Middle was home from work then take the car out to the grocery myself for a change just to get out of the house for the first time since Friday evening. That helped. So did acknowledging to myself, "hey, there's the liquor store across the parking lot and it's open. Sure I -could- go in but I'm not going to. I'm stronger than that today. Just because I had a bad day doesn't mean I have to drink."

My only regret was that despite wandering through the dollar store and the grocery store I didn't see anything I wanted as a treat. I was perfectly happy to give myself a treat but nothing appealed. I guess the trip was the treat, at least for today.

The trick is to remember how this went today. Anger isn't going to magically stop being my hardest-to-deal-with most-triggery emotion but maybe next time when it's something even more annoying or closer up or both I can remind myself "anger CAN be managed in ways other than 'excuse to drink.'"  Another tool to fight complacency.

POST SCRIPTUM:  I thought I hit "publish" not "save" last night but it turned out for the best as I wanted to share that I ended up with a Day 10 Treat after all. 

While I was setting up the C. Knapp link above I noticed this book and after a quick look at the specs I had to have it. Stayed up a bit too late reading (Kindle app for iPhone--I love-love-love having a huge library in my pocket) too...but the one good thing about sober sleep is that even if you don't get as much of it for as long as you like (woke up at 1:15 and then the dog got startled by somedamnedthing around 5) it's still more restful and rejuvenating than anything drugged.


  1. Yes, I can recognise all the triggers you mention. I've tried so many things to try and escape those emotions, now trying to learn how to deal with them without drinking!

  2. Congrats on working through the emotional day! Enjoy your reading!

  3. I say be mad. Be furious if you need to for as long as it takes. We are taught as a culture to have mediocre emotions somewhere in the middle. But anger and sadness are part of being human too. You did a great job managing through an emotional day.