“How are you?”
“I’m all over the place. I feel broken. I’m angry, then jealous, then sad, then lonely, then angry all over again. And it’s all about the same fucking thing.”
My therapist and I dove head first into rocky waters after a two week hiatus. Something I’d been holding back from her, too embarrassed to talk about, for the last nine months finally came out. The issue had actually been eating away at me before I got sober, had been incessant this last week, and I couldn’t bear the internal dialogue anymore. We dug through the history of an unfair situation I was involved in a few years earlier, and how it was still affecting me. We talked about how the wound had been opened recently, leading to waves of jealousy, fear, and anger towards those I thought had wronged me.
It felt good to get it out, and led to something magical as we slowly pulled the thread: the base emotion in all of these was, as always, fear. But specifically I was afraid of losing safety and comfort.
I, like many alcoholics, had somewhat absent parents, or at the very least an absence of nurturing, unconditional love. When I found alcohol I found a feeling reminiscent of love, unconditionally and without end. When I associated love with liquor I took all I could get.
Now, that bottled love is gone. It’s sitting in the liquor store or on the drinks list at the back of the menu waiting for me if I ever break. It was my safety and my comfort after years of never having the chance to receive it unconditionally. And the void it left behind in sobriety I’m intrinsically trying to fill.
I’m, somewhat, back at square one.
The concept of the impeding of maturity at the onset of a drinking addiction makes more sense. I never learned how to fill that void, in a healthy way, by the time I started drinking at 17. Now everyone my age has had nearly two decades of practice, and I’m still sitting here with training wheels on.
I thought money would bring me safety and comfort, but when it all got taken away it left me with the ugliest feelings inside.
I thought solitude would bring me safety and comfort, but when it turned into isolation it left me lonely and hopeless.
I thought moving across the country and buying a sinking house would bring me safety and comfort, but it was just another distraction from the deeper issues at hand.
I think building a boat will open new doors and keep idle hands busy, bringing me safety and comfort for the now and the future, but I’m afraid what will happen when it’s done.
Everything I’ve used to try and fill the void alcohol left in me has been missing one crucial thing: the human element. Family, friends, lovers, anyone really.
I still find it hard to trust people, I know that’s what’s holding me back, I know that’s my problem to fix. But today we took a giant step closer to figuring out why I want to drink so badly, identified what need I’m trying to fill, and hopefully we’ll begin work on practicing the ability to give and receive love soon.
It’s strange… I still am uncomfortable referring to myself as a man. But after this therapy session I’ve done so with greater peace of mind. Maybe there’s also a safety and comfort in being okay with myself, too.