I’m just finished reading Veronica Valli’s ‘Why You Drink and How to Stop: Journey to Freedom’ and boy is it good! She has helped me grasp some bits of sobriety I had heard talked about that I didn’t quite get before. One of those things was the notion of the ‘dry drunk’.
She talks in the book about how people who drink express having a ‘hole in their soul’ which is a sense of worthlessness that nothing will fill. Drinking is an attempt to make that hole disappear by pouring booze into it and the temporary relief that then provides. I completely get this and this understanding then led me to make sense of the belief of needing to do not just the outer work but the inner work. The outer work is self explanatory as this requires you to not pick up a drink. It is the inner work that is more important and necessary as without this you end up a ‘dry drunk’ – someone who is not drinking but who hasn’t yet fully understood and come to terms with the emotional reasons for why they drink. When talking to professionals at my local specialist alcohol misuse service this is their biggest lament – that they can detox people but that they also need psychological support otherwise the danger of relapse is high.
I think this is what the AA mean when they talk about you doing the spiritual work and this is the bit I have found the toughest. When the emotions are raging inside me and I just want to make them stop not picking up a drink becomes very hard. Sitting with the emotions of the ‘hole in my soul’ is painful and that is why I drank in the first place! But the more time that goes by the more I understand the need for this inner work and of finding kinder ways to behave towards myself. The sense of not being good enough that pre-existed the drinking hasn’t gone away but by not drowning it in alcohol the hole isn’t getting bigger it is getting smaller, day by day.
Day 95 and today has been the biggest challenge so far. But I made it through to the other side 🙂