A while back, I wrote in my first blog, 101 Days of Sobriety about core beliefs and how they affect our perception of the world and the ways in which we choose to approach our lives. The idea was conceived while I was in therapy and learning how to look at my own core beliefs as a way to overcome some of the struggles I was dealing with. My therapist did her best to beat it into my head, but I really struggled to grasp the concept for the better part of an entire year. I mean, I understood what she was trying to teach me, I could see it, but I could not conceptualize how to achieve it in my own life. One day, it all began to click and my entire life changed; forever.
Obviously, I am departing from the series I have been writing for the past two weeks. The joys of sobriety have been fun to write about, and they are certainly helpful for anyone thinking about quitting their addiction and wondering if it is really worth the struggle. First of all, YES it is worth it; and secondly, the joys a person receives from sobriety are very personal and will differ from person to person. Nevertheless, I think it was a worthwhile venture while it lasted. Now it's time to get into the real nuts and bolts of sobriety.
Why do we drink? How do we stop? And, why does it really matter?
Now, these are some pretty massive topics and they are topics that carry with them some severely controversial beliefs depending on whom you talk with. I will be clear in stating that I am not an expert on the topic of human psychology nor am I trained in any aspect of the chemistry or chemical make up of alcohol or other addictive substances. I will state, however, that I am an expert in the human condition as seen through my eyes and my experiences over the past forty-nine years. It is from this lens I will approach these sensitive topics and offer my personal views and insights. I hope to reach those who may relate to my experiences but have not yet found the motivation to take their first steps into sobriety and recovery.
Before we dive headfirst into the mystifying and sometimes tumultuous world of core beliefs and perceptions, I would like to offer a little insight into how I found my way to this point in my life. If you have been following my blog for a while, please bear with me. If you are new to my blog, here is a crash course in the inner workings of a fellow addict.
A Brief Personal History
I was raised in what looked like, from the outside, a perfect American family. Little did anyone know, there were many dysfunctions present which ultimately led to divorce and siblings who rarely talk. It was not a perfect American family, and while this is not what I want to focus on, it is relevant in the trajectory of my addictions. I found my attraction to alcohol at the age of twelve, maybe younger, but I honestly can't remember for sure. What I do remember is that I was immediately drawn to the effects of alcohol. From the day I found it, I found ways to incorporate it into my life whenever possible. I drank before and during many school functions I attended, but nobody ever knew that because I did it alone. In the military, I rivaled the best of the drinkers. I remember bragging about my ability to throw up, at will, mid-evening to allow for more alcohol consumption. As a young adult, I was known to drink while working construction jobs sometimes to the point of passing out in the truck on the way home. As an older adult, I became a master of functional alcoholism. I never received a DUI, went to jail, or lost a job as a result of my drinking, but I did drink every day and I drank too much usually to the point of passing out on some level in the evening. At the end of my drinking days, most of my time was spent looking forward to and planning my next drink. I'm willing to bet not many people were even aware of the level of my problem with alcohol. I had become very good at hiding it.
My Therapeutic Journey
I went to therapy seeking help in dealing with my alcohol, nicotine, and other behavioral addictions. I had been to therapy before, but it never really clicked for me. This time was different, partly because I found the right person, and partly because I was ready. I say the right person in regard to my 'therapist' because I believe the term therapist doesn't offer enough credit to the quality of the person I believe her to be. For over a year, we worked on trying to find and understand the core beliefs I had created that were ultimately responsible for my inability to recognize the true strength, potential, love, and worth that lived within me. I had lost touch with my identity due to some of the negative events in my life and the addictions I used to drown out any semblance of my former self. The road to finding and understanding my core beliefs was anything but smooth and unobstructed. I wish I could say that I was the model of a perfect and easily coachable client, but I was not. I fought her every step of the way, and I questioned everything I did not understand. I did not allow myself to take any shortcuts because I knew if I did I would exploit those shortcuts, in the end. While I know I may have been a difficult and even trying client, she was the perfect rival. Her patience and trust in me afforded me the ability to find the answers I needed to locate my path and begin the journey into sobriety and ultimately the life I both wanted and deserved to live.