Once you quit drinking, for good, you're going to get to know your triggers. You won't like them at first, and certainly won't recognize them. That's because before quitting, a trigger would be imperceptible to your mind. It arises and, boom, you reach for that glass of wine or, at least, make plans to have a drink as soon as possible. The trigger is appeased, and goes quiet again. You see, you don't really get to know a trigger until you say no to it. That's when it grows loud and demanding. That's when you are forced to face it and eventually beat it to submission. Pulverize it, preferably.
I was pretty shocked when I came to know my triggers. Damn, I had a lot of them. It was no wonder I drank wine almost every day. Bored? Have a drink. Awkward social situation? Have a drink (probably a few). Bad day at work? Drink! Great day at work? Uncork a bottle. Sad? Nothing like a soothing Pinot Noir. The list could go on. The bastards were relentless at the beginning.
It was a major a-ha moment to realize I was living in the company of so many inclinations to drink alcohol. No wonder cutting back was so impossible. The longer I went without reaching for wine, the closer I had to look at the triggers and address them. To me, it wasn't enough to simply say no. I wanted to know the why. Why did I feel the need to have a drink? To get the buzz. That meant sitting with my discomforts. A lot.
In getting know the many reasons that drove me to drink, I got to know myself much more deeply. It was time to understand the gap between my discomforts and my sips of wine. Every time I felt an impulse to drink, I'd dig into the deeper reason why - I could usually find one. Sure, I liked to have a glass of wine after work while making dinner. While a part of that routine was ingrained habit, there was also more to it. I also felt that I deserved it. But why? Was I dissatisfied with my job? My life? Was it that important to celebrate the end of every workday? Like I survived yet another day, thank God! These were the questions I asked myself when I faced the impulse to drink. Saying no to it was always accompanied by discomfort, sometimes even pain. But the more I went into that place and poked around, the stronger I got. Until I grew more powerful than the trigger. And, it disappeared.
This is a process that takes time, especially if you have as many (or more) triggers as I did. And, new ones still show up. Thankfully, now that I prefer having a clear mind over a buzzed one, the impulses are much easier to face. In many ways, I'm getting to know myself all over again. And, learning to accept the pieces of me that I'd thought were better left buried. Most of those pieces are relics of old thinking and irrelevant insecurities that formed early in life -- childhood, teen years.
I've learned that I'm not as bad as I thought, after all. That it's okay to be the real me. All the time. I've learned I like me, more than I ever thought possible.