Two years ago, you would never have found me saying ‘thank you’ to my dear friend, alcohol. I was a bitter, "woe is me" soul from my deck life handed me. Yet, time marches on, and I can’t help but be grateful.
Here are 3 gifts my bad drinking habit gave me.
1. Being Comfortable With Myself
It is a society norm for alcohol to take an acceptable precedent in our lives. Every weekend, it’s okay to get totally wasted. As long as you’re 21 - 34 years of age, have no kids, and have a stable job, no one will bat an eye. Heck, they’ll even ask for details about your escapades.
Personally, I’ve always hated parties. I don’t like big groups and so I would drink to feel “comfortable.” I would drink, so people thought, naturally, I enjoyed drinking and being out at awkward and shallow gatherings. But, the truth is, I hated it.
For so long, I thought something was wrong with me because I didn’t enjoy this lifestyle. And then I stopped drinking socially. Suddenly, I accepted the fact that it just isn’t me to be at bars late at night or parties getting drunk. No, I am much happier drinking tea, reading a book, going to a coffee shop, and being alone and in bed by 9.
Eventually, this led me to find other people who enjoyed the same things. I was finally putting myself in situations I felt comfortable in sans alcohol and being comfortable in my own skin is how I know I’m where I belong.
2. Resolved Childhood Issues
While I did eventually find my people, I wish it happened as easily as it sounds. The truth is, I went from social drinking to drinking alone. This was not a “wine with dinner” kind of drinking, it was “getting drunk enough to throw up on myself and have a hard time waking up to take care of my dog the next morning” kind of drinking. I am not proud of it. And it happened maybe a handful of times, but when someone else is depending on you, whether its plants, people, or pups, that behavior is simply inexcusable.
One day I decided I’ve had enough of that and reexamined my habits. I stopped drinking altogether and something miraculous happened: I became incredibly aware of my feelings—deep, deep feelings. Instead of drinking, which I soon learned was to escape my inexplicable emotions, I began journaling. I unveiled some deep traumas and learned why I was who I am—why I thought and felt certain things.
Over time, I learned by paying attention to myself more, I was actually caring for myself and was able to elicit my own feelings of worth, joy, happiness, and pleasure simply from being.
3. Empathy for Others
Not long before I realized I had a drinking issue, I had a dear friend who had her own issues. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t understand why addiction and drinking were problems for some people. Thankfully, I was knocked off my own horse and was able to have greater empathy and compassion for other people in stronger throes of addiction.
No matter what problem you may be facing in yourself, the most important thing to understand is you don’t have to live this way. We are products of our choices and you can choose what you feel and think. You have that power!
If you’re realizing you have substance abuse problems, don’t continue giving your power away to things that are hurting you. Take your life back, fight the good fight, and, I promise, you too will be able to count your blessings instead of your sorrows—even when the sorrows are those we’ve created ourselves. Hope is on the other side of help.