I believe fear is the engine of alcoholism.
At the root of every drinker is a cold dark fear that they have spent their lives running away from.
Alcohol numbs fear.
It dismisses it, evaporating it with a couple of drinks so that nice warm glow takes over.
All is well. Until you sober up.
Everyone who has struggled with alcoholism understands that it has really been a struggle to manage your fear.
But what about fear and sobriety?
When there is nowhere left to run too?
When the only choice left is to face those fears that have dominated your life.
Because alcohol is just a symptom, managing fear is the biggest challenge I see in most sober people. When we get sober we still have all those feelings and emotions that alcohol used to mask.
But now there is no anesthetic.
Every alcoholic or addict reaches the point where they realize that they can’t go back, but to go forward means facing fears that terrify them.
I know, because I had to do it.
I was often paralyzed with fear; I could barely breath because of the terror in my heart.
But I did. I found help and met some kind souls who walked with me through my fears, and here’s what I discovered………
Most of my fears were actually delusions. They weren’t real.
When I finally looked closely and deconstructed them; I saw they had no substance.
It seems crazy now, but at the time I really believed them. I acted as if they were true. I never questioned them or where they came from I just thought they were real.
Here are some of the fears that I believed that turned out to be nothing:
- I was frightened people didn’t like me
- I was frightened I wasn’t lovable
- I was frightened people would see I wasn’t good enough
- I was frightened I would be alone because of all of the above
I have since discovered that these fears are really common, that actually most people suffer them from time to time. That people use lots of methods to manage their fearful feelings and that I wasn’t alone.
Now I look back and they seem almost laughable. I don’t believe any of these fears that used to dominate my life. I’m free of them and the control they had.
When I had this awakening I then realized that the thought of facing these fears was actually far worse than the reality. It was just like when Dorothy discovered the real Wizard of Oz had no substance at all.
To be human, means we have to manage the human condition, and part of that is managing our fear.
When I was able to admit I was an alcoholic, it wasn’t too big a jump to admit my fears either. It was the first time I had been truly honest about how I felt and it was transformational.
Just sharing how I really felt, deep down inside, with someone who was really listening was the start of my fears receding and my life changing.
I want to start a conversation about fear, I want you to know that if you’re reading this and you’re frightened that you are not alone.
Most of all, I want you to know that you can be free of fear, that they don’t need to drive your life.
That the engine of sobriety can be joy.