Sunday, March 28, 2010

Just Breathe

**Submitted by Diana (and written on St. Patrick's Day), who blogs at Diana Republic

Days like today challenge my sobriety. I am not tempted by the alcohol itself, but by the promise of escape and numbing ; those both sound really good today.

I am an exposed live wire today. It’s early and I have already been frustrated and anxious to the point of tears. My morning has been spent trying to manage the mole hill that my brain keeps telling me is a mountain. The point is that nothing unusual has happened. The dog was barking, the phone was ringing and there were things that had to be accomplished. My faulty brain sent out an all points bulletin on its PA system to freak the hell out. Tonight’s dinner is not a national emergency, but don’t tell that to my brain. It is in full panic mode. Shorten the breathing, hasten the heart beat, see if you can get the palms to sweat, it tells my body. Some tiny logical part of my brain is whispering that this is all nothing, just ride it out, but the PA system is too loud.

And I know just how to shut it down. Nothing shuts down my brain like a few drinks. Vodka immediately disables that PA system and all its ridiculous messages. The anxiety that is currently making me want to scream will melt away with the first sip. In this moment, as the exposed live wire figuratively flinging myself back and forth, a danger to anyone who might accidently come in contact with me, this feels like an appropriate recourse.

The problem with this solution is that it isn’t a solution. The anxiety I feel now would cower in the shadow of the anxiety that drinking would leave in its wake. The chaos that my sober day to day life brings with it is nothing when compared to that of my drinking life. And the dog will still bark and the phone will still ring and dinner will either get prepared or it won’t. And shockingly there is no tragedy in the latter.

The only way I can get through these moments is to breathe. I just need to breathe through the chaos that my brain is creating. I need to ride it out and remember that I am stronger than this. It sucks and I may have to cry and I may have to scream, but I have been here before and I know I will be fine


  1. Oh, thank you for this. I'm having a 'mountain out of a mole hill' day myself today. Holidays like St. Patrick's Day can trigger it, but more often than not it's just a regular old day ... my urge is always to go around the feelings, stuff them somewhere. A good cry or scream can help a lot.

    You're such an inspiration - thanks for the reminder that a drink doesn't fix a damn thing. I needed to hear that today.

  2. I know those feelings so well - thank you for sharing, and for the reminder to breathe and that not drinking can be done! :) Thank you.

  3. I was feeling that exact way this morning. Thank you for letting me know that I am not the only one and that I, too, am capable of getting through it without a drink or pill.

  4. You have captured what's been going on for me lately too. What rings true to me in every sense are your words: "The anxiety I feel now would cower in the shadow of the anxiety that drinking would leave in its wake." I imagine taking a drink, then the feeling I might have, then one more drink, and it goes downhill from there. I fast forward to a blazing headache, no memory of the night before, not being able to look my husband in the eye and I snap back. Thank you for sharing this. It's an excellent reminder to ride it out.

  5. Great post! I can really relate. Life has been like that a lot for me lately. I just keep telling myself to put one foot in front of the other. Often I stare at my feet while I walk from room to room, cleaning the kitchen, doing the laundry. Just focusing on the task right in front of me.