Recently I and my Sanctuary have been featured both in the press and the news. This week I shall be doing BBC Radio York and some corporate work. To say that I am nervous is an understatement. By nature I have always been shy which of course played a large part in my instant alcoholism all those years ago. Fear of life in general. The drinking years allowed me to be outrageous sometimes, and during my twenties and thirties, I appeared to be frighteningly confident.
Until inevitably, I lost it. Then of course the fear was whether I could get to lunchtime without a drink. Fear of being found out and fear of the catastrophic consequences that followed the binges. There was the fear too, that not ever being able to drink again would be too difficult to bear. So much fear it literally swallowed me up.
When I got sober, I had to deal with the fear in a different way. I had to re-wire. One of the very best phrases I heard that helped me was that fear was courage in action. Inaction leads to fear. It soon became clear that the thinking about what could happen, and of course always thinking of the worst case scenario, was the biggest instigator of the fear.
Now I imagine the outcome rather than dwell on the build up. So far there have been no seriously inappropriate outcomes. I may have failed a couple of times to put a point across, time is always short, and I could write and talk several books, and I have had disagreements with the great and the good. But I have never been ashamed, or guilt ridden or embarrassed.
All my clients have a fear in different degrees. But there is no doubt it has played a part in their individual drinking careers.
One to one my clients and I discuss the fear. It’s really a very intimate subject sometimes, because yet again, we tend to beat ourselves up over any perceived weakness. It is vital to try to eradicate it and that can only be done with empathetic long term support. At the height of our intoxication there was no fear, so getting to grips with new coping mechanisms is yet another part of the work we do together, and perhaps one of the most vital parts of true emotional control and sobriety.
So there is real benefit from being proactive. Never standing still, never letting the void created by not drinking become unused. We wasted so much time, making the most of it now seems to be one of the most satisfying parts of this journey, and shows us just how much simpler and positive life is without the ethanol.