Two months ago I had a brief, incredible, and intense relationship with a guy who was only in town for a few short months. When our relationship ended, I was beside myself...in a way that I hadn't experienced in almost 20 years. On the days that I wasn't in full-body sobs on the floor, I felt a low-grade anxiety that prevented me from getting out of bed.
All of this was happening while still running a business and coaching clients.
In the past, I would've numbed myself with wine or food or some other unproductive distraction. A glass of wine to ease the pain...sure, why not?!?
But one glass turns into two, two turns into three, and the next thing you know the bottle is empty and you're the only person in the room.
I'm sharing this story with you because, in the past 2 weeks I've talked to 5 women who said that they use wine to numb intense feelings. It's been their go-to method for coping. They all thought it was ok, but now realize it just makes them feel worse.
I've been part of the "wine is the answer to all my problems" club, on SEVERAL occasions and I, too have discovered that it's an ineffective, short-term way to deal with the shittier parts of life.
Here are 3 reasons why:
1. It doesn't actually solve the problem: The next day you wake up with a raging headache, fuzzy tongue, stomach pain. And, oh yeah, the problem and feelings from which you were trying to escape are STILL there.
2. It keeps you from feeling all your feelings: It's ok to not feel good all the time. Sadness and anger aren't BAD emotions...they're part of being human. When you choose to numb out, you deny yourself the chance to experience the full range of emotions that we are capable of having.
3. It prevents you from being present in your life: When you're frequently checking out of life by way of chardonnay, you can't connect with yourself or the people around you. You're physically here, but emotionally you're somewhere else. Life is too short to not fully live it.
Oh, and wine isn't the only numbing agent women turn to in crisis...you can replace the word "wine" with cupcakes, cookies, pizza, or any high-fat, high-carb food. I've used the food method too...it can be as bad as the wine method.
Back to my story: my sadness over this relationship didn't make any sense to me at the time, but I stopped trying to figure it out and just stayed with the feelings as they came up. No avoiding, distracting, or numbing.
Even though I wanted to feel good ASAP, I knew that THIS was my opportunity to become acquainted with my fear, anxiety, and sadness...3 feelings I'd spent a lot of time trying to dodge. I made a conscious choice to feel all the feelings, no matter how painful they were.
In the moment, it may seem that the "wine method" after a stressful day at work or an argument with your partner is actually working, but in the long run it's not.
Right now, ask yourself these two questions:
- What situations are difficult for me to manage emotionally?
- What feelings do I fear (i.e. feelings that you avoid at all costs)?
Your answers will help you to become AWARE of the things that cause you check out of your life.
Awareness is always the first step to making a change.