“But today I’m having to live with the restless serpents. I remind myself that absolutely everything that is worth doing, everything that is game-changing in life, is accompanied by that feeling. If you’re avoiding anxiety you’re not properly living, I remind myself. I felt the same before every job interview, every first date, before getting married, before giving birth, before going off backpacking. Where would I be now if I’d avoided doing all those things (or got totally drunk beforehand)? Anxiety is a sign that you’re pushing boundaries, moving forward, grabbing the bull by the horns. IT IS GOOD.”
― from “The Sober Diaries: How one woman stopped drinking and started living”
A big AHA moment.
My drinking pattern had indeed been dulling my senses, stuffing down my true feelings, keeping me numb to what I didn’t understand — dampening down what I didn’t want to think about.
The next morning I’d wake up (or several times in the night) sweaty and anxious about all manner of things. You know that phrase ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff?’ I realized that I became a super-worrier. Fuzzy and a bit hungover, I was worrying way too much about the small stuff. And, I was ignoring the big stuff! I was frozen with fear, worry and anxiety.
Now in my own natural state, I do worry. Part of my career has very much been based on my organization skills, and being able to worry for others, so they could relax and be the star. But drinking brought it out in an extreme and stressful way.
Each sober day that goes by, that clear-headed feeling makes fear and anxiety very manageable. I feel relaxed about just taking on whatever the day brings. My worst-case scenarios are much more realistic. I worry, deal with it, and move on. (Okay, that makes me sound pretty perfect – let’s say that I am getting better at dealing with it and moving on.)
I also don’t have to worry about forgetting things said the night before, or what needs to be done based on to-dos discussed earlier in the week.
Twelve days into sobriety, and I now no longer dull myself to avoid facing things that make me anxious. I am naked to the fear, the stress and the anxiety.
But because I am sober, the fear and stress levels are much, much lower.
Anxiety is still there, but I am also getting help through counseling to learn how to manage rather than stuff down feelings.
Time to look at anxiety as a sign. Neither good or bad, but a chance to really look at what you need to make a decision about. Or, what is causing anxiety – maybe your inner self is screaming to be paid attention to and deal with what you’ve avoided.