I was reviewing my first entries in my written journal trying to come up with a blog topic. I started journaling on day 21 of being AF. I was answering specific questions posed by TNM and the first question(s) was to write down a list of why I think I like to drink and then a list of why I think I would like to stop drinking.
I had a list of 8 “whys” and 11 “why to stop”. For the past 6 months, I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching as to why I started drinking in the first place and am really convinced that I started because of my back injury at the age of 13. Over time, I know that I then began using alcohol to help me fit in. I thought alcohol gave me that shot of courage. Then, I began using it to help me sleep better, to handle stress better and pretty much using it everyday because I believed using alcohol enhanced every aspect in my life!
Interestingly, I noticed in my list of whys, I had chronic pain listed at #5. My top 4 responses of “whys” were: 1) I like the buzz feeling I get 2) I like the taste of wine 3) I sleep better 4) It helps me unwind after a hard day at work. One of the coaches I follow asks us to delve into our childhood to see if there was any trauma we encountered that may be the contributing factor to our addiction. I had a very happy childhood and, although depression and anxiety disorders run on both sides of my family, I have been blessed in that I have never had a problem with either of these.
As I’ve mentioned, my back pain has plagued me nearly all of my life. I’ve had 2 discectomies in my low back, one at 14 and the other at 24. I then had cervical fusion at the age of 41. Not to mention that my initial injury took place at the ripe age of 13. I was still growing. I was about to hit puberty (I am a late bloomer). I have been to countless specialists, including neurology, surgeons, chiropractor, physical therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy. I have joined and dropped out of too many gyms to count. And just as many time I have tried starting a home exercise program, only to end up quitting no more than 2 weeks into it. I started drinking consistently at the age of 15 (although I can remember taking sips of my dad’s beer as young as 8 years old).
Near the end of 2019 I found myself back in the care of physical therapy for worsening back issues. This PT was the first person who had ever suggested to me that I may be suffering from depression or anxiety from chronic pain issues and that it might help me to talk to someone about it. He also suggested that the reason I’ve never been able to stick with an exercise program because subconsciously I knew I would end up hurting myself, thus a defense mechanism was built in to prevent this from happening. I believe this conversation started me down this path I’m on today.
I found a massage therapist in March of 2020 who addressed all of my pain issues. Her techniques address the body as a whole. She helped me understand that my initial injury at the age of 13 was likely connected to all other physical issues I was having (chronic headaches, migraines, tendonitis in my elbows and shoulders). In the spring of 2021, I changed my diet using keto and intermittent fasting and I lost 20 lbs. During this time, I kept thinking to myself “now, if I could just get the exercise thing going”, but I was still drinking alcohol. Little did I know, that this was the final key I needed to make the lasting changes for my mind, body and soul.
I started my alcohol journey on a whim and a trial of 45 days going alcohol free. Here I am today going on nearly 6 months of AF and I don’t see it ending anytime soon. I have never felt physically better in my entire life. I rarely have back pain now. I am noticing physical changes in the way I look and see muscles develop all over my body. I am committed to doing daily exercises. I am still learning about my reasons and my “whys” but I am willing to go the distance and continue to share my journey in hopes to pay it forward.
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