You know what’s so super great about not drinking? Feeling all the feelings. You know what SUCKS about not drinking? Feeling all the fucking feelings.
I don’t know what I was expecting, really. But life did NOT become perfect when I stopped drinking. I still had daily stressors and problems and chaos, but now I didn’t have alcohol to numb myself from feeling. Basically, an emotional 16 wheeler came at me full speed all day, every day. IT WAS HARD. I was angry. I was angry with my kids, my job, my dog, my husband. I was angry with everyone for just being. I was angry with myself for having gotten to a place where I NEEDED this break from alcohol. I was angry about being angry.
To be honest, it wasn’t pretty and I thought A LOT about throwing in the towel. Things weren’t easier. Life’s challenges didn’t seem to improve just because I did. And that pissed me right off.
One of the podcasts I listened to religiously at this beginning stage was ‘Mother Recovery’, a podcast about women who mom sober. Annika O’Melia is the host and she is downright fabulous. This topic of feeling the feelings came up a LOT as she interviewed other women in recovery. Although all of the stories of how and when these women got sober were unique, emotional recovery seemed to be a commonality among all. ‘Well that’s just fucking great’, I thought as I considered what this meant for my submerged emotions.
Another podcast I adore is ‘The Bubble Hour’ which focuses on real stories of addiction and recovery. One episode talked specifically about the sucky-ness of this beginning stage of sobriety. Apparently what I was going through actually had a name…PAWS (Post Acute Withdrawal Symptoms). The American Addiction Center defines PAWS as ‘any symptoms that persist after a person has ended their physical dependence on a drug. It can feel like a “rollercoaster” of symptoms, which come and go unexpectedly’. According to the AAC, these symptoms include:
- Hostility or aggression
- Anxiety, panic, or fear
- Irritability and mood swings
- Exhaustion or fatigue
- Inability to sleep
- Trouble concentrating or thinking
- Loss of interest in sex
- Anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure
- Trouble with memory
- Sensitivity to stressful situations
REALLY? This is not fair. I quit booze- THAT was supposed to be the hard part. Now all this? FUCK. It’s time to find a community. A meeting. Something.