Cravings, part II

On day 33 I had a different experience of the “seize.” I received a stressful email from a client. I was in a strange city and was juggling buses and noisy streets on a hot afternoon. It would have been the ideal time to head for a bar and down two or three cold beers in an attempt to counteract the stress. Counteract it. As in a reversal, a U turn, a return from a bad place. This time, though, I looked at the situation and recognized that adding alcohol to my stress would be adding another layer of stress onto the first one. For the first time, I saw the stresses as arranged in series and not as cancelling one another out. (Many thanks are due to Allen Carr’s Easy Way to Control Alcohol and its incessant message that drinking brings zero benefit. Not way more devastation than benefit, not a tiny benefit-to-harm ratio, but no benefit.)

I did go buy a pint of Naked Coconut.

I have two ways I lean for how to understand the seize at this point. One I’m concerned about, but I think the other is more true. The first is as whiplash. I’m concerned that some force in me, after increasing numbers of days without alcohol, is getting bottled up and will eventually come flying out raging at me because I’m winning now. I’m afraid of this kind, worried that it’ll overpower me. Worried that my days of peace this month are only an illusion and in fact are turning me into a pressure cooker – it’s only a matter of time until this all blows up in my face.

So there’s that. The other way of understanding yesterday and future seizes is as layers of an onion. Although my system is doing a lot more processing or digesting of situations and irritations and stresses as they occur — in real time — there is still an accumulation of undigested stuff (stress) lying around in me. I think that the seizes are probably stresses that float up to the surface and pop.

This way of understanding them isn’t scary. The pressure is, in fact, not building. The passage of a strained day in which it’s something of an effort not to drink is not in fact a danger. The seizes are a fact of life, just an emotion/experience that comes and goes in me. Even better, I think they’re a sign of health. My belief has been that my system would know how to heal (re-equilibrate) if I just let it, by removing my favored way of artificially releasing tension. That seems, thus far, to be the case.

I’ve seen this idea floating around and I think it’s right: the seize (a craving) is not a need for a drink specifically, rather it’s a feeling of stress that we’ve gotten in a deep habit of tilting very quickly into a need for our preferred stress-releaser. That association, lightning-quick that it is, can be undone. The gift to myself is responding not with pints of cold harsh liquid but with some form of real comfort. I will talk about mine shortly. What are yours?

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