We all have our reasons for drinking alcohol. For some it’s required for a fun night out socialising, for others it’s to bury a bad day. As an alcoholic, it’s crucial to try and identify what causes your excessive drinking – to get to the root of the cause.
Beer, wine, spirits: they’re often a band-aid used to cover up an underlying problem. The longer you cover it up, the bigger the band-aid that’s required. When you give up drinking you’ll no longer have your “emotional crutch”. Your chances of living sober long term will increase by dealing with what causes your drinking.
What were my root causes?
My family tends to be be overly optimistic which isn’t a bad thing. Except that when anything bad happens they bury their head in the sand or pretend nothing is wrong. I’m also guilty of this and I knew this needed to change if I was to ever give up drinking long term. So I decided to visit a psychologist and begin healing.
For many alcoholics, their drinking is the result of something that happened during their childhood. Sounds a bit cliche but it’s true. As I went through therapy it was clear that two big events had significantly effected my mindset.
1. Piano incident
I had played the piano for many years and was an okay musician. I’d been earmarked as having “great potential”. By the age of 10, the day finally came for my first recital in front of an audience of mostly friends and family. There were around 100 in the crowd. I practised for that event every night for 2 months and I could have played that piece in my sleep. But when the time came, and I walked up on stage, my mind went completely blank. I had literally forgotten everything and the piano keys were swirling around. I made the decision to just start playing and that didn’t work out well at all. It was beyond bad. At the end everyone clapped by I couldn’t even look at my mother as I walked off stage. I was devastated and as we drove home in the car, not a word was spoken about it.
2. Schoolyard fiasco
Being the youngest in the family, I tended be a little spoilt. This caused me to be selfish in the early years at school and I ‘d sometimes shoot my mouth off about something that I shouldn’t have. The end result, for around 3 months of my life, the kids totally alienated me at school. No-one would even acknowledge I existed – it was awful. Eventually, they gave me another chance and I vowed never to get on the kids bad side again. Instead, I became the quiet one of the group. Never speaking up. I was never alienated again at school, but many probably wouldn’t remember me if they looked at their class photo and saw my picture.
Why am I relaying these stories to you? Because they were the root causes for all that happened later in life. I grew into a teenager with very little confidence and hated being the centre of attention. Public speaking, birthday speeches, being asked a question during school; all of these caused massive anxiety for me. Acting myself was not an option.
One day, the band-aid was applied
The day I drank my first beer will always stay in my mind. It was one of the greatest days of my life. I was at a party with 50 other kids. I clearly remember that I didn’t enjoy the taste at all. What I did love, was the feeling I got: complete confidence and permission to be myself. I’d laugh, make myself heard, and confidently talk to girls. Both males and females preferred the drunk version of me a lot more than the sober one.
The penny had dropped, the band-aid had been applied. This would be the start of a long relationship with beer. It would become my identity and with it, I could rip off my suit and glasses and become superman – for a few hours anyway.
Chopping away the roots
Everyone’s root cause will be different. For me, I am working on other solutions for building confidence without using alcohol. Talking about what happened in the past with a qualified practitioner definitely helps. As does attending Toastmasters, meditation, priming and vigorous exercise. Working on myself has enabled long term sobriety.
Your circumstances will probably be different. I strongly suggest you invest some time and money in yourself to get the qualified help you need. Take some of that money you’d use on alcohol and instead, use it on bettering yourself. Trust me, it will be the best money you ever spend.
Getting to the root cause of your drinking won’t always be quick and easy; it certainly won’t be fun. But dealing with your demons of the past will provide a solid foundation for a new life, free from alcohol and filled with newfound happiness.