Wednesday, March 29, 2017

A Strong Craving

Dear Readers,
Last Saturday, in the middle of my yoga class, I had an intense craving.
I haven't had one of these for a long while, so it surprised me.
I couldn't dismiss it right away, it kept popping up during yoga!
It very specific, tied to a cute wine bar in a trendy shopping area, where I used to go drinking before I would shop.
On Saturday, I had something to return in that shopping area.
So it makes some sense that I had an urge, except I have been to this area many times with no urges.
I was also very tired and was sick, and I wonder if that had something to do with the craving.

I have learned to never hide these strong urges or cravings, even if I don't have them very often.
In my AA, a man with many years sober, told of having an intense craving himself.
That shows me they can pop up even after a long time sober.

The disconcerting thing about this urge is that I kept entertaining the thought for a little while.
It shows me once again, how powerful addiction is. 
It hijacks my brain. It's tied to memories, tied to feelings, tied to people and places. 
It is even tied to my body, being tired and sick.

I am so grateful I do not suffer from many strong cravings anymore.
But I also know I must never take my recovery for granted.

The craving went away by the end of class.
I told Mr. UT, and he and I went together to return my item.

Here are some coping strategies I have used when I have had urges, taken from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
  • 1. Remind yourself of your reasons for making a change. Carry your top reasons on a wallet card or in an electronic message that you can access easily, such as a mobile phone notepad entry or a saved email. 

  • 2. Talk it through with someone you trust. Have a trusted friend on standby for a phone call, or bring one along to high-risk situations.

  • 3. Distract yourself with a healthy, alternative activity. For different situations, come up with engaging short, mid-range, and longer options, like texting or calling someone, watching short online videos, lifting weights to music, showering, meditating, taking a walk, or doing a hobby.

  • 4. Challenge the thought that drives the urge. Stop it, analyze the error in it, and replace it. Example: "It couldn't hurt to have one little drink. WAIT a minute—what am I thinking? One could hurt, as I've seen 'just one' lead to lots more. I am sticking with my choice not to drink."

  • 5. Ride it out without giving in. Instead of fighting an urge, accept it as normal and temporary. As you ride it out, keep in mind that it will soon crest like an ocean wave and pass.

  • 6. Leave high-risk situations quickly and gracefully. It helps to plan your escape in advance.

I am sending a prayer of peace of mind for anyone who is suffering with cravings today.

With Much Love,
On Day 936
Wendy

21 comments:

  1. Dear Wendy,
    That must be disturbing to experience. How wonderful that you and Mr UT went together. <3 I was wondering, sometimes yoga can bring out tension/thoughts that are held in the memory of the body too. Is there something in that which connects?
    Congratulations on your day 936. :-)
    xx, Feeling

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    1. Hi Feeling!
      Yes, I was thinking of that as well.
      I know I used to go to yoga after drinking sometimes.
      I think it was a combination of memories, knowing I had to go down to that area alone, being tired and sick. Then moving made it come to the surface.
      Thank you!!
      I am VERY happy I quit!
      xo
      Wendy

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  2. I trained as a clinical massage therapist and I think you may have released a muscle memory during yoga and your brain seized it and started moulding it into an urge or craving. I am so glad the craving passed by the end of the class and that Mr UT was able to go with you. I have only had a few really strong urges but thankfully nothing too unmanageable but I guess I do wonder if they will come up for the rest of my life. thanks for sharing, it helps to have feedback from someone nearing three years. Big hugs and I hope you get over your sickness soon.

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    1. Hi Ginger!
      Yes, I think you are right.
      Yoga is powerful...it really does release emotions, thoughts, memories.
      When I first tried to stop drinking, I had such powerful urges. I couldn't stop because they were horrible. I almost asked for antabuse.
      Luckily they just calmed down one day.
      Thank you, and I hope you are well.
      xo

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    2. The issues are in the tissues...(heard this from my yin yoga teacher) I can understand that you were caught by surprise. I had cravings well into 5 years so I dont think it ever goes away completely but they become much less. Thank you for the helpful strategies. I try and practice the 'ride it like wave one' when they come around for me. xxxx

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    3. I was taught "urge surfing" in treatment, and I find it very helpful.
      xo

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  3. Wow, this suprised me. I never knew cravings could still come after a few years. I'm glad it's passed and they don't come very often. Very interesting about muscle memory too!

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    1. I am glad, too!
      Now I am stronger, and use the tools I listed.
      xo

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  4. It's kind of like when you have a using dream unexpectedly and you wake up and think, "Where did that come from?" Congrats on day 936!

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  5. And I used to go drinking after yoga :) I agree with other folks that "stuff" was contained in the craving. I think of them as beautiful bits of fire rising up in me and exiting. If I can get in a safe place (like you taking Mr. Untipsy with you to the place) (physically, emotionally) I try to lean in and breathe. Thank you for writing this post and sharing your experience, and being a reminder for those of us in earlier phases of sobriety.

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    1. Oh, I like that..."Beautiful bits of fire"!
      Breathing really helps big time!
      I know a lot of folks who drink a lot and do yoga.
      I remember one time a teacher told me that people some people do yoga so they can go drink.
      Crazy stuff.
      xo

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  6. Hug
    I always think telling someone is the answer. Whenever I hide weird thoughts they fester. It's the same with depression. I occasionally get days where suddenly life seems meaningless. This is not my norm, but still they come.

    Telling someone takes the power away and it ensures I have back up if it becomes heavier.

    Bringing your husband was a good solution. I always think the best choice is the one that makes life easiest and safest.

    Anne

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    1. Thank you, Anne!
      My hubs is an awesome support.
      Making a choice for life to be safest and easiest is good advice!
      xo

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  7. Fast approaching 1000 days Wendy!! :) xx

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    1. I KNOW!
      I remember when you reached that many days and I never thought I would be here so close!
      Party coming up!
      xo

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  8. I hear you on this. I get them too. Not often, but I get them. I know guys with 25+ years who get them. As they say - we're alcoholics, what do you expect? ha ha. I rarely indulge in them, but I recently did and I can say that I didn't enjoy it. But I do much of what you shared there - I usually talk back to it - as in "who are we kidding? go away" or I write it in a journal and get it off the brain. Many ways to cope with them, but yeah, they come and we do our best to dismiss them. We can't control our thoughts, but we can control our responses to them. Great post!

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    1. Thank you, Paul.
      For sure, I tell myself that my thoughts can be changed.
      My best one is thinking all the way through the end of the bottle, because it will be a bottle...or 5 glasses of stuff.
      YUCK!
      xo

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  9. That is so uncanny Wendy. A couple of days ago (well I guess a week now) I though "how nice to have a lovely glass of Bollinger" I really wanting to have one on the Sunday last, in the afternoon by the pool. It was a really thought and a committed feeling. It scared me how real it was. It was gone by the end of that hour.

    Would love to have been with you and we could have linked arms and walked right on past that Wine Bar with big grins on our faces.

    Thank goodness for Mr UT.

    Love Michelle xxxxx

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    1. Big grins, knowing we will wake up clear headed, not have to worry about a DUI, knowing what we said or did, knowing we didn't make a fool out of ourselves...well I do that without drinking, mind you...saving money, and just knowing we are strong.

      I am so happy I have MR. UT, too. I am very blessed.
      xo

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