Honoring and releasing old ways of coping
In many ways, our alcohol use may have been a similar coping mechanism at a different point in our life. The human psyche does a very impressive job protecting us how it can, and as we know now, our brilliant brains can accidentally misidentify alcohol as beneficial for survival. Alcohol provides dopamine and brings down our central nervous system, the exact mechanisms our bodies crave when we are in distress. Unfortunately, our brains aren’t as quick to pick up on all of the nasty side effects of drinking. But when you think about it, of course we started using alcohol to help us cope! It filled a space for us in the moment. You have always been doing your very best with what you knew how to do in the moment.
Viewing our past (or current) alcohol use through a positive—or even neutral—lens may feel really hard right now. If we’re still dealing with a lot of shame around our history, especially if there have been real-life consequences for our drinking, we have many steps to go before we can feel real peace about it. But here’s a start: somehow, some way, your use of alcohol served you in the moment. You were doing what you knew how to do, protecting yourself with the tools you had at your disposal. Thank you, you.
Now, let’s release alcohol use as we’ve released our childhood comfort items, and build more positive coping mechanisms in its place.
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” - Dr. Maya Angelou