Even though I’m in a good mental place at the moment and have my anxiety under control I always have to be vigilant that the ‘addictive voice’ I spoke of in the last blog post (or ‘the beast’ which I often call it) can strike at any point. It’s not just when we are bored, stressed, tired, anxious or depressed that it rears it’s head. I found yesterday and today that despite being active and happy in oneself, the internal conversation can start. The scary thing about it is that sometimes I don’t even realise I’m in dialogue with my AV. I’ll give you an example…
I’ve been very clear about my Big Plan and a lifetime of abstinence from alcohol. Not in question, I won’t drink today, tomorrow or in 10 years time. I’m committed to the long game. Me. I am.
So why yesterday when I was at the football did it cross my mind to have a few pints in the sun at the pub across the road from the stadium? I drive to the matches for a start but there I was saying the driving was actually a safety net because I couldn’t have more than one or two prematch drinks as I’d need to get behind the wheel a few hours later after the game.
But wait a minute. Why have I just had this conversation with myself? I don’t drink. I won’t be drinking ever again. Ah, wait a minute. I know this! I made the bloody decision. It’s that sneaky bastard known as my ‘Beast’. He’s quietly slipped the idea into my consciousness when I was in a good mood and looking forward to a day at the football. First game of the season, sun is shining and everybody is in good spirits.
Nipped. In. The. Bud.
But again today, here I am with my 3yr old daughter who I’ve just collected at lunchtime from the child minder. We drove the short distance to the town centre to do a few errands (and most importantly buy some paint for our allotment scarecrow making later this week). We walked past one of the many pubs on the front street and I heard my name called. It was my parents sitting in the sunshine having a drink. We went over and my Mam asked if we’d like a drink (she meant a coffee as she’s very supportive of my sobriety). So we sat down in the beer garden and I had an Americano. No issue there. No anxiety. No fear of missing out watching my Dad drink his pint of Madri.
It wasn’t until 30 mins later or so as we said our goodbyes and headed on our way back to the car that the conversation started again in my head. It wasn’t as clear and direct as yesterday because my addictive voice wasn’t telling me a pint with my Dad would have been nice, etc. It was more to do with the secret drinking I used to do. Here is how it went…
You do know you could still have a pint in a beer garden when working away or if out and about on your own?! Your problem is drinking when you are in a bad place mentally. If you apply a plan like you’re doing with so many other aspects of your life it would be fine. Just say to yourself, I’m only going to have two pints. No more. Two pints. Done. Don’t drink to get pissed or to suppress anxiety, just enjoy a cold pint like you used to. Nobody ever needs to know anyways. Just do it occasionally on your own.
I have no plans to be on my own anywhere or working away anytime soon so not sure why my AV even mentioned that scenario. All that said and done, my AV doesn’t play by any particular set of rules so it’s important not to overanalyse the internal conversations. The model of addiction shows that the ‘AV/Beast’ has no direct means to get what it wants. It must appeal to us to get alcohol or drugs into our bloodstream. It cannot speak, it cannot see, it has no arms or legs, and it has no intelligence of its own. But it uses our thoughts, sees through our eyes, creates strong feelings, and persuades us to use our hands, arms and legs in to obtain its favorite substance.
So nothing has changed here. I’m still sober and I still have my big plan in place. I just had a reminder that sometimes you’ll get a little visit when you least expect it.