Withdrawal symptoms or Ordinary life in 2021?
It's my 19th day sober, and I'm starting to wonder when this is going to start being difficult. So far this has been a lot easier than I ever imagined it would be. My firm beliefs about how hard detox would be, and how boring a sober life would be, have been crucial internal scripts for me for a long time. Turns out it was just another myth. I think it would be harder if I believed I was abstaining from something truly lovely that I need and now had to live every day with the willpower of denying myself. But I don't believe that. I believe I am rejecting poisoning myself and my life with a deadly toxin that has no benefit. I am left with 2 sensations.
The emotional weight of doing something monumentally life changing. I wake up with the uneasy gut sensation that something huge is happening in my life, before I remember exactly what it is, it's a kind of dread/guilt heavy stomach sensation. Once I remember I either think "oh, yeh, there's that. Is it still a good decision? Yup, still a good decision" and get on with my day. Or I think "Oh, yeh, there's that. Feel that. No hangover, no fuzzy head, a clear memory of the whole evening, excellent!" and I stay and stretch and relish my new-found morning head for a few minutes, before I get up and get on with my day. Both of which fell happy, and easy.
The physical rush of pleasure...I assume dopamine...that bathed my shoulders, chest and stomach when I had the first sip of alcohol after not drinking for a few days. That physical bodily sensation is, shockingly, not gone. I had such a strong belief that giving up alcohol would mean loosing that pleasure sensation forever. Fact is, I can find it whenever I stop and think deeply about feeling it. Not a memory of what it felt like, I mean the actual physical sensation. Turns out alcohol dampened my ability to feel it, and addiction had me convinced it was alcohol that created it. I know this because pouring myself and taking a sip of a gin and tonic when the gin has no alcohol in it gives me the exact same response. I guess that this 'trick' will fade, but the process has unlocked my beliefs and allowed me access to the same physical pleasure outside of the physical ceremony of pouring a drink. I also now know that it takes alcohol 6 or 7 minutes to be absorbed through the stomach and enter the blood stream, so what I was feeling in those first few seconds was never alcohol, it was only ever my brain hooked into an addictive response. It was never real.
The physical symptoms of chemical withdrawal are nothing like as bad as everyone says they will be. I do feel a bit under the weather, low in mood and energy, lacking in...something...definitely something lacking... ... ... but. The Very Big Big But. I've been through 2020, and the start of 2021. Extraordinary times, when I think absolutely all of us are feeling exactly the same. low mood, drained energy, the sensation that something is lacking - Is this withdrawal or ordinary life at the moment? I don't know. I don't actually care - fact is I'm finding this a lot easier than I always imagined it would be, and that's good enough for me for the moment.