Sorry, Alcohol doesn’t work here any more. Can Chocolate help?

Yesterday was a tough sort of a day.  Hot, muggy, at home with Toddler.  Offered to take a friend’s child for the afternoon and evening so that her single-parent mother could spend the day in bed getting over a bad cold – child is lovely, but three children instead of two exponentially ramps up the time spend mediating fights, fetching drinks, preparing snacks, keeping an ear out for potentially-fatal games:  (“Toddler, just lie down on the floor.  We’re going to pretend that you’re having a nap!  Okay, good Toddler.  Now Visiting Child and I are going to practise our long jumps over you, won’t that be fun?”  “NO STOP DO NOT DO THAT THAT IS NOT A GOOD GAME”)

Finally, having cajoled Visiting Child out from under Elder’s bed, back into own clothes, and delivered her home, I was driving back home through the sunset.  Hungry, tired, very aware of the bomb site of a kitchen and Everest of laundry awaiting me.

Passed a shop.  Should I?  Just a treat.  I deserved it.  Just a little treat, to enjoy when I finally get to sit down to my lovely new book.  I know, I know what I said, but surely…

I drove past the shop and back home.  And this is the incredible bit; what I was craving, was chocolate.  And only after I congratulated myself on resisting (I’m big on self-congratulations.  Someone has to) did my brain think “Oh, right, and also this is where I used to think about having a glass of wine”.  Literally it wasn’t the first go-to, but merely the end of a train of thought.

A friend of mine, sober five years, was reassuring me that sobriety gets easier and easier, and this is what she said (paraphrased for privacy):

When you’re still building your toolbox, if you have a hard day or something goes wrong, you call the helpline in your head, and you’re like ‘I need help, can I speak to Alcohol please’?  And the helpline is all ‘Sorry, Alcohol doesn’t work here any more, can Chocolate help?  Or Romantic Films can be with you in twenty minutes?’.  And after a while you stop even asking for Alcohol.  You know Alcohol doesn’t work there any more.

I love that.  We talk about a ‘sober tool kit’ around here, in the context of tools to fight cravings and resist drinking.  But there’s another tool kit we need as well; the tools to just get through life, to react to circumstances where we used to use alcohol.  That’s what she’s talking about.

Admittedly, chocolate isn’t the sharpest tool in the box; next time I need help I’ll ask for Quilting.  But not Alcohol.

Alcohol doesn’t work here any more.

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12 thoughts on “Sorry, Alcohol doesn’t work here any more. Can Chocolate help?

  1. You’re very funny! I really like the imaginary (I hope!) napping toddler game. I don’t find chocolate all that sharp either, but it’s sharper than me when it needs to be, and that counts for something! Take care. xo

    • Sadly, that was not an imaginary game, no. For a small person who is distrustful of everything I ever do (‘you’re giving me the green spoon? It must be poisoned! I only want the pink spoon!”, Toddler is extremely trustful of older children.

  2. You make me laugh. I love this too. I am also afraid that chocolate might be answering my hotline right now. Specifically, M&Ms salty and sweet snack mix. Just now I kept going back and back for more and more even though it was starting to make me feel a bit ill and then had to hide the packet up high away from myself (where from I will no doubt retrieve it by day’s end). Uh oh. Where is this behaviour familiar from … hmmm?

    I guess it’s about making out automatic go-to coping strategies healthier things but doing that requires probably just Doing That over and over when it doesn’t really feel like what we want until it actually does become what we reach for. I had been of the ‘fuck it eat cake’ in early sobriety mentality but I’m starting to see more why sugar becomes an issue for people. I’ve been doing why too much compulsive sugary soothing lately. Sigh. Self awareness sucks sometimes.

  3. The “toolkit for life” is the most valuable thing I’ve gained in my sobriety. I do pop to the fridge for the odd chocolate bar (too many times frankly) but what the heck it is better than drinking. However that learning to cope with life on life’s terms – that took – sorry IS TAKING – a long time to ingrain itself into my psyche.
    Just learning to cope – learning I can’t fix everything and that is ok and I can leave somethings or say no to someone or ask for help and advice and take my time and that good enough is at times actually the best I can possibly deliver.
    I have learned good things to do. Play the guitar – restring a guitar – read a book – cook a meal – talk to someone – go to a meeting – look at my to do list and just do one thing on it even if it is just send email to AA secretary about meeting etc. etc.

  4. That imaginary Help Line is just funny enough that it will stick in my memory. I love it! I, too, love quilting- and will remember to ask for her when I make my next call. Or perhaps chocolate, she can be very effective too. Amazing how these small indulgences grow to take the place of that oh-so-seductive call of wine!

  5. Great!! Alcohol does’nt work here anymore, indeed 😉 After eating a lot -honestly, the whole lot- of coockies just now (white chocolate with cranberry) I tend to agree sugar is not the sharpest tool in the box. Especially not when I want to get rid of the wine/beer belly.. But it’s a lot better than alcohol, for sure. Next time I will go and buy some unsalted nuts and dried apricots..

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