Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Comfort In

My friend Sherry got me thinking more about comfort with her latest post.

Semantics dictate that alcohol is addictive, that there is science behind the madness. That chemically and brain-i-ally some of us can have just one glass of wine while others of us end up naked and blacked out. Lord. Science is right, but what about what makes us reach for it in the first place? Why?

I have been conducting my own study of comfort. What it is, what it means. How to get it, why we want it. Getting that safe feeling makes us do a lot of fucked up shit. Some of it even makes us feel worse than we did when we started. Like wine. And cake. Is beating yourself up mentally a comfort? Logically I'd say no, but realistically.....well.

Now that I'm eight months into being sober I still am searching for that comfort, that mindless moment of forgetting to do the "right" thing and let it all go. To be free for just that minute. To say "yes yes yes!" when I could say "that's enough" and save my poor sanity.

I was addicted to alcohol. But what's the deeper part of that? How do I not shove the cravings down, but set them free? I don't want wine, but I still want that feeling. The I'm-doing-whatever-I-want-to-do-and-you-can't-stop-me feeling.

That freedom feeling.

Safe. Loved. Taken care of. Comforted.

What I used to do with booze I do now with food. Too much. Not only am I an alcoholic, I am a too-much-a-holic. I'm starting to realize that maybe that too much isn't the problem, it's that I'm not listening to myself. That I'm going for the easy solution (pecan pie) rather than the thing that will really soothe and ease my needy soul.

Perhaps that has been the problem this whole time. That I am looking for comfort, and then making it harder. That I've been drowning and suffocating the voice that tells me what I need instead of sitting quietly for a minute and just listening.

Like this:

Me: "Agh. This day is hard. And I'm tired."
Other Me: "Fuck it. Eat that (insert food here). Have a bite. Have more. Snarf gulp snarf."
Heart Me: "Hold up, stop eating that. Sit down for a minute. Breathe for a minute. You're OK. Everything will be alright."
Other Me: "Chew louder so we can't hear that! YUM! You feel better! EAT MORE!"
Me: "Agh. This day is hard. And I'm tired. And fat. Why did I eat all that? I might as well just finish. I'm sad. Why didn't I stop at the right time? I'm giving up sugar forever! Starting tomorrow!"

Notice how the heart voice is the smallest? And how me says the same things over and over again? And this script was the same when I was drinking, like this:

Me: "Agh. This day is hard. And I'm tired."
Other Me: "Fuck it. Drink that (insert booze here). Have a sip. Have more. Snarf gulp snarf."
Heart Me: "Hold up, stop drinking that. Sit down for a minute. Breathe for a minute. You're OK. Everything will be alright."
Other Me: "Drink more so we can't hear that! YUM! You feel better! DRINK MORE!"
Me: "Agh. This day is hard. And I'm tired. And fat. Why did I drink all that? I might as well just finish. I'm sad. Why didn't I stop at the right time? I'm giving up booze forever! Starting tomorrow!"

It's not enough to scritch and scratch and squash yourself into giving up whatever outside thing makes you feel better. You have to teach yourself how to feel better from the inside out. To make the heart voice the biggest loudest voice you hear. To learn yourself, and honor yourself by hearing how you want to truly be. And then living it. It takes lots of practice, and patience. But since this other way isn't really working I'll try something different. And not listen to other me who doesn't like change, or me being comfortable.

OK, heart me. Speak up. I'm listening. And I'm going to try hearing, too.



  1. Loved this post, Amy. Your words ring so true. I am going on 16 months of sobriety but boy-oh-boy does food (sugar) just take the place of what alcohol used to be sometimes. And I do know that it's not going to cause me to act the way I did when I was drunk, but it does give me the sense of powerlessness which is just NOT good. Takes my mind right back to the alcoholic feelings and thoughts. I tell myself the same thing, "I'll quite tomorrow." But then I feel bad for myself, and deprived. Vicious cycle. I love your idea of listening to that voice. I'm going to try to do the same thing! A great book that I just started is "Women, Food and God" by Geneen Roth. So far, I love it and it seems like it's right on with what you wrote about today. Have a good sober day! Thanks for sharing your writing.

    1. I even think it when I'm eating eight cookies: "I'm eating these cookies like I used to drink- thoughtless, mindless shoveling". Crunch crunch crumble crumble. Cue self loathing.

      Thank you for the book recommendation. :)

      I hope you have a good sober day too! Thanks for reading.

  2. First...thanks for the shout out. I love it when I get one!

    I think you are spot the hell on about the comfort thing. I've been searching my whole life for that parental love I never had. The kind I give to my kids - unconditional and always there, no matter what.

    I'm FINALLY coming to the conclusion (thanks to sobriety and recovery) that I can't sit around waiting anymore that I have to give it to myself. My husband does a wonderful job but he's a HUSBAND...not my mom or dad.

    For me, my weight has always determined how I felt about myself so my natural reaction is "if I can just lose 50 pounds everything will work out". Bullshit.

    Now I'm thinking, if I can just get my health in order and feel better inside then maybe the rest will work out. Maybe if I treat my body with the kind of love that I wish I had had when I was little then everything will work out.

    The only way for me to do that is to stop abusing it...step one - cigarettes; step two - alcohol; step three - sugar. Who knows what step four will be or if it even exists.

    All I know is that I can't stop trying. I have to get to a point where I love myself inside and out.

    You'll get there too...and in a lot less time than me! You're always three steps ahead of me! ;)


    1. And you have to love you, not from the outside in, but from the inside out. Lovelight is much more beautiful and noticeable than skinny jeans. :)

      Practice this: "I am pretty." and then say it again when that other me starts the "but you need to lose weight" bullshit. "I am pretty."


  3. Aw, I love how you gave a name to that voice. Heart me. Perfect. What would happen if I didn't eat the cookies and sat down and took a breath (and didn't play a game on my phone either) and just said what I would say to one of my kids if they were upset or worried? I'm not sure, but I plan to test it out next time I get hit hard by a mindless craving. They come less these days - honestly, they do - but they still happen and probably always will and this seems like a healthy tool to have. Thank you.

  4. I know, the computer or sweets- how to drown it out today? Ugh!

    Heart me has the answers, we just gotta really listen. And take our time, cause you know heart me is in no kind of hurry.


  5. Amy, you're wise and funny at the same time. Nicely done. I love "too-much-a-holic." That's me all over. Drinking coffee, tea, eating dark chocolate. Even running, I think I'm just going to run MORE MORE MORE. If I like it and it makes me feel good, suddenly I'm a greedy toddler. But it's never the answer. I'm trying to find that other voice, the heart voice, but I'm not sure I know what it sounds like most of the time. Your mother post the other day really got me thinking about all this. You're right, learning to stay still and listen is key, right? And maybe learn to wait. (None of these are my specialty, but I'm trying!) Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. You have such a gift in the way you convey your thoughts - one that opens up a whole new perspective and it makes so much sense! Another "too-much-a-holic" for sure and the idea of encapsulating the other side of us and really giving it a voice is such a positive way to think about nurturing ourselves, doing what makes us feel better instead of rushing thoughtlessly headlong into the latest more more more without stopping to listen. Awesome.

  7. Much insight here - and the things you mention here (namely food, but can be going to the computer, watching TV, etc) are things I call "reaches" - those things I reach for when I am not sure what is going on within me. Things that I seek some sort of soothing or validation. Things that shout over that small voice in me, my heart. And this is something I still struggle with, even 2+ years into my sobriety. Sugar is the big one. Food to some respect. Some find it in exercise, some in sex, etc. Nothing harmful to the naked eye, but cover something up inside of us. What I have learned (but not always practising, lol) is that it all comes from within, as you mentioned. The party is HERE (pointing to heart). All my validations need to come from me, from my faith, the Creator. The wanting for that *thing* that takes me out of me needs to come from within, not externally.

    Wonderful post, Amy. Love reading your words.


  8. Great post. True for many of us I'm sure...comfort can be hard to find.

  9. I relate to so much of this. The other day I was eating a huge bag of pick n mix sweets after a bad day and I realised I was eating them to squash down the stress and sadness I was feeling - just like I did with wine. After I realised that I still carried on eating till they were gone - just like I did with wine! I don't know how worried to be abut this - part of me thinks that as long as I'm off the booze I'll let these other things go for now.

    1. Agh, I know. I eat for comfort just like I drank. When to hold self responsible for that and actually deal? Some days are better than others.