The space in-between “social” and “alcoholic” drinking.
Is alcoholic what we still call it? Forgive me, it’s been a while since I’ve been at an AA meeting. Do they still call themselves alcoholics and addicts? I mean no disrespect just a curious thought since the health authorities have shifted to substance use disorder or alcohol use disorder, how do they frame that up in the AA meetings and doctrine?
I digress. My intention for this article is to discuss the in-between space I recognized in The Primed Drinker with my clients, myself, and others when transitioning from ideals, identity, life seasons, beliefs, and understandings.
The woman that reaches out to me does not identify as an alcoholic or addict. She recognizes her drinking has become a reoccurring theme in her life and it’s beginning to take a toll on her life in such ways as weight gain, fatigue, lack of motivation to do much of anything outside of what needs to be done, and how she sees herself.
What I have come to believe about this space is that it’s an opportunity. Something inside of us is signaling for a change but we flag it as a problem because that is what society, media, Hollywood, the recovery movement, and the war on drugs propaganda has inundated us with. Any problem, challenge, or concern with alcohol equals alcoholism, AUD, and the standard protocol is a one-size-fits-all solution including abstinence, meetings, Twelve-Steps, and subscribing to the incurable disease theory.
Let’s back up to the opportunity. I help women work through their drinking habits from the outside in. We start with their thoughts, feelings, habits, beliefs around alcohol, move to their relational environments, and then to who they think they are and who they want to be, to help them get an expansive view of them as a whole and not just their drinking habit. Through this process, they collect evidence and tap into the inner wisdom that helps them create a resolve on how best to move forward for them as an individual.
You see I’m a fervent believer it’s not about the alcohol. It’s all about the woman and how she is honoring her needs, dreams, desires, passions, curiosity, and creativity. A four-word phrase has caught the breath in many of the women I talk with, “You Are Not Done.” This seems to shock and delight them at the same time.
Alcohol is a reliable companion when we find ourselves in the liminal space of uncertainty between where you were, happy and content with life as it was, and where you want to be, of which most of us don’t know because we are afraid of disrupting the parts of our life that are working.
I know where I’ve been, who I was, but who am I now, and is this all there is? Why can’t I just be happy with this?
Now, most women cannot or will not articulate this at the onset of their journey in this in-between space. The majority of these amazing women are successful lawyers, doctors, business owners, health care practitioners, therapists, college professors, and badass stay-at-home moms that do it all. They all come with degrees, skills, and talent, but something is brewing inside of them, and they resist allowing it to surface.
It doesn’t make sense. Their life is good.
How dare they ask for anything more?
This causes unease and discomfort that I simply refer to as pain. Pain caused by a feeling of discontentment with their fabulous on paper life. It’s much easier to name alcohol as the problem than to disturb the predictability of their normal life and go messing around with what else could be.
These are real fears they are trying to avoid by not exploring the possibilities. What about you? Is something trying to get your attention and you just keep pushing it back with a drink, or two, four, or more?
I’ve asked this before and it’s worth asking again, what will haunt you in your final days that you didn’t give life to?
What if you could have your cake and eat it too?
Explore, my dear friend. Explore the possibilities of what life could be. Experiment and examine what makes you feel alive. We only have one precious life.
You deserve to experience what your soul yearns for.
YOU DON’T HAVE TO GO IT ALONE
If you’re interested in an empathetic listener, travel buddy, and guide who has been walking this talk for many many years let’s talk.
I’m ready when you are!