At around the age of 18, I developed Bulimia. At first it felt like a gift. It removed all food pressures and made it possible for me to socialise and have fun. I felt liberated.
Over the years though, it made me lose touch with what was normal. If I ate a single piece of chocolate I’d get stressed. I’d have a knot in my stomach and feel desperate and scared, trapped with this poison inside me. I became hyper-vigilant about what I ate. I was obsessed.
As I close the month without wine, I realise alcohol did much the same thing with emotions. Irritated with my kids? Right! I’m having a glass of wine tonight! Disappointed I didn’t get the contract I went for? Wine. Wake up feeling low. Just get to the end of the day. Have wine. Don’t feel. Have wine.
In blending, numbing and covering, it makes us unable to work out what is normal so the alarm sounds any time we experience an uncomfortable emotion.
Over the last month, I’ve had to sit with whatever emotions I’ve experienced and I’ve got to say, none of them has been that bad. If anything, they became easier to manage when I paid attention to them. When I tried to shut them out or shut them up, the fought hard to be heard. Now they don’t have to. I’m finding acceptance far easier to come by and I’m learning more about the rhythms of my moods and how to be comfortable with them.
I think low moods, anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness, grief and all the emotions that make up our vast array are all part of a happy life. I think it’s a mistake to shut them out or to numb them. We need those emotions for balance and they often hold great power when it comes to helping us understand our values and needs – and the changes we could make in order to feel good in ourselves.