I don’t know about anyone else but I always subscribed to the view that alcohol reduced inhibitions and “allowed” me to express emotions / feelings that I otherwise kept suppressed. As I am a bit of a master at suppressing emotions and avoiding conflict, it’s perhaps not surprising that after a few drinks a torrent of rage and frustration would, at times, burst out of me.
There have been many, many such occasions over the years. Many evenings that ended in tearful recriminations, many stand up arguments, many outbursts triggered by innocuous comments that spiralled into full-blown raging conniptions. Afterwards, the next morning, I would piece together who said what,
what I remembered, and cringe a bit. Underneath though, I always believed that I had some justification for screaming and yelling – letting my feelings out – MAKING someone understand how I felt. Whilst I understood and accepted that alcohol had a part to play in the genesis of these episodes, I always firmly believed that the alcohol didn’t manufacture the feelings – these were there already – alcohol just lowered my inhibitions and allowed me to say what I thought. And thats a good thing, right ?
I’m still early on in this journey, and this is part of a half formed thought process, so I’m not 100% sure about this, but despite my ongoing (though less frequent) mood swings, there seems to be less RAGE in my soul.
There are several things in my personal life that make me very unhappy. They did result in pretty regular outbursts whilst under the influence. Mr Lily has taken quite a few verbal batterings over the years. Did anything change ? No. Did I feel better having let it all out? . Not really. Did I learn ? No. The next time, or the time after that, the same argument would ensue, again with no resolution. All that has been left by that enormours emotional carnage are scars and fear and damaged trust.
What role alcohol? Its certainly true that sobriety has not erased the problems. It hasnt changed the things I think or the position I take. It hasnt made the hurt of certain circunstances less intense, or provided me with an acceptance of things I really struggle to accept. I’ve not morphed into some complient doormat who has no problems. BUT, it seems to me now that just maybe, being sober has firmed me up a bit, in a non confrontational, calm, solid kind of way.
To explain. I spent a LONG time ANGRY about certain things, really deep down angry and hurt, but I felt unable to express those feelings when sober. So they all burst out, exploded out when I was drunk, Nothing changed. Now, sober, I dont feel any happier about those things but I am beginning to accept that I CANNOT CHANGE THEM. And in that acceptance, comes the next thought that what I CAN do is either;
- state what I want, calmly and clearly, why I believe its right; Ask for others to change, and make a plan for what I will do if things remain the same
- accept that life isn’t perfect and that I have no more right to what I want than anyone else.
That saying – known in AA as the serenity prayer, feels very apt.
grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
It looks so simple. But it isnt.
I am less sure about how aspects of my life will pan out now, but what I do believe, is that I will be taking responsibility for my own emotional wellbeing. That I am, or will be, strong enough to do that – and that after years of being too befuddled to accept that personal responsibility, I can now see it in front of me. I’m not there yet, but I’m closer.