Not Drinking is Not Emotional Sobriety

After years of drinking alcohol on a daily basis, my body immediately fell in love with sobriety.

Within a few days, my energy and interest in life outside of my own head began to return.

Within a few weeks, my skin and eyes were clear and bright.

Within a few months, I looked and felt years younger. (Not bragging if it’s true.)

Life feels fresh and exciting when motivation finally surges into action. Being in the “Can Do” club is fun. I felt confident. Hopeful. Grateful.

For a while.

My emotions flatlined after the first month—somewhere between fine and bored. My average daily mood wasn’t awful. It just wasn’t awesome. The shine was wearing off of my participation trophy.

Once you’re through the first few weeks, “not drinking” on a Tuesday doesn’t count as a major accomplishment.

I mean, sure–good job. Well done.

Also, grow up.

Kindergarden Doesn’t Cover Emotional Sobriety

The first question a child learns to dread is “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Because we think that what you do determines how happy you feel. We’re trained from an early age to expect that doing the right things (and getting other people to acknowledge those things) will make us feel good.

But that’s not how feelings work.

You can feel shitty despite everything going according to plan. And you can feel awe even when things fall apart.

Getting what you want—money, status, success, even sobriety—doesn’t change how you feel.

Once the pink bubble of sober success wore off, I was still me–hiding my resting bitch face under a swirl of false positivity. Not drinking did make life easier. Hang-xiety is a significant disadvantage. But alcohol had also served a purpose—drinking was how I dealt with stress and unpleasant emotions. Now, instead of numbing myself every night, I used busy-ness as a distraction. Like a fish who keeps moving in order to breathe. I feverishly listened to books and podcasts and worked on multiple projects at once to avoid the self-doubt, fear and depression that loomed beneath the surface.

I was afraid to cry.
            Because I’d never stop.
I was afraid to say I’m not ok.
            Because I am a privileged white woman.
I was afraid to ask for help.
            Because I was the problem.
I was afraid to admit I wanted more.
            Because I didn’t have the energy or clarity to change.

I assumed I’d literally end up in a psyche ward if I opened the Pandora’s Box to my feelings. I thought that ignoring the negative emotions in favor of moving forward was the STRONG approach.

That’s a false choice. Managing our behavior is NOT the same thing as managing our emotions. Stifling the urge to scream, cry, snap, binge, stay in bed or run away while doing everything right for everyone else is NOT a sign of strength. Or emotional wellness.

Disassociating from our feelings is how we got ourselves into this mess.

Willpower Vs. Emotional Sobriety

Unless you know where to buy willpower by the shit-ton, freedom from compulsive and unconscious behaviors comes with the ability to integrate your emotions—to use them as a tool.

Not knowing how to process emotions is why most people end up trading one addiction for another. Drinking is replaced with eating, shopping, exercising, volunteering, etc.

Run, Jane, Run.

Or STOP.

In order to quit drinking, you need to understand that alcohol is serving a purpose. It’s a coping tool—albeit a harmful one. You have unmet needs. And until you understand what those needs are, sobriety is going to be a struggle.

I can help you achieve emotional sobriety. I can show you how to manage your feelings, and how to stop letting your deprived and neglected subconscious run the show. Emotions are the bridge between the mind and body. Just as words have sounds when you say them, thoughts have feelings when you think them. The more you think a thought, the more intense that thought feels.

Thoughts are feelings we mistake for facts. But they are just sentences in our brains! Difficult emotions signal problematic thoughts. Feelings reveal your limiting beliefs and logical errors.

You will not cry forever.

You will not die of frustration and regret.

The Anger monster will not set your house on fire. (Because there is no monster.)

You will not lay down and never get up.

Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

Emotional Sobriety is Freedom

If you want to feel differently, you have to think differently. Which is why processing emotions is so much more effective than numbing and avoiding. Unresolved internal conflict wreaks havoc on the subconscious. Living life in reaction mode makes you powerless to change.

When you work towards emotional sobriety, not-drinking is a side effect. I can help you go upstream to the source of your cravings and urges to discover what you really need and want. So that you don’t just replace one addiction for another or surrender to a lackluster existence.

Emotional sobriety is the path to inner peace, mental freedom and a deep spiritual connection with LIFE.

If you’d like to hear more about how I can help you achieve that life that you want, schedule a one-hour consultation with me. It’s free—no obligation to sign up for my program. We’ll discuss where you are, where you want to be and what you need to do to get there.

Recovery University Logo

Like this article? Sign up here for more.

* indicates required

How to Overcome Alcohol Use Disorder

To overcome alcohol use disorder you must admit that alcohol is causing more stress than it's worth. It's not fun anymore. Drinking too much is a form of self-neglect, not self-care.

group think sobriety

Don't surrender your autonomy to group-think sobriety. Exchanging one set of limiting beliefs for another won't set you free.

Internalized oppression

Is your inside voice a bully? Internalized oppression from patriarchal, elitist and racially-biased "standards" causes fear and shame.

Becoming a Non-Drinker

What's the difference between "recovering alcoholic" and a non-drinker? The words you chose have a big impact on your experience of sobriety. If you don't like what you feel, change what you think.

What is Alcohol Use Disorder?
Do you wish you drank less but find it difficult to stop once you start? Are the legal experts in your head constantly debating the problem—and what you should do? That’s alcohol use disorder.
 
You’re not alone. Many of us have been duped into using alcohol as a consolation prize for neglecting our needs–and then criticized for becoming dependent on it. Win/win for the patriarchy! I was able to quit drinking after 30 years without AA, rehab or willpower. My energy, vitality and joy have returned. I help professional women see that sobriety is a superpower, not a disease. 

Uncertainty is torture.

Coaching gives you the clarity and confidence to move forward.

We will determine where you are, where you want to be and what you'll need to get there.

Join with Colleen