From an early age, girls are usually taught to hide their anger. This is especially true for women in the South, which is where I was raised. My family was somewhat nontraditional since my parents were divorced. However, I got along great with my stepmom, my dad, my grandparents, and my stepbrother.
Arguments were few and far between. On the rare occasion that I got angry, I was usually quickly punished, which taught me that anger was not acceptable.
Starting to Drink
As I grew older, this training stuck with me. I felt that all of my anger needed to be contained, which was quite difficult to do. Or, I should say that it was difficult to do until I was part way through my 20s. At that point, I found that drinking wine or other types of alcoholic beverages helped me suppress my anger, allowing me to focus more on having fun instead. Granted, the hangovers were never much fun. However, when I was drinking, I really enjoyed the way that I felt.
As time went by, I moved into a house with a man that I was seeing. When we were living together, I would periodically drink too much. When that happened, I would usually lash out at him, getting angry over things that I had stuffed deep down inside when I was sober. In one instance, I even wound up throwing a wineglass full of wine across a room. When I was cleaning up the mess, I really regretted my actions…almost as much as I regretted that it was red wine instead of white.
As my anger continued to grow, my drinking began to escalate. When I was sober, I tended to stuff my feelings down inside, smiling along with everyone so that I didn’t make waves. When I was drinking, on the other hand, I tried to get so drunk that I wouldn’t have to think about anything. If I was at home, I sometimes wound up drinking myself into a fit of rage.
Healthier Ways to Deal With Anger
It wasn’t until I stop drinking that I learned how to manage my anger in a way that was healthier. With the assistance of my counsellor at the Plymouth Road to Recovery Group and my personal support system, I learned the following tips:
* Communication is essential. When you are feeling angry with someone else, set aside a time when you can talk to them about your feelings. It is best to express yourself in a calm, rational matter rather than bottling up your feelings until they come exploding out in a torrent of anger.
* Exercise. Exercising is one of the best ways to deal with anger. Choose an activity that you enjoy such as taking walks, going running, or taking part in yoga.
* Have a plan. If you suspect that something is going to cause you to get angry, try to plan how you will deal with those feelings ahead of time.
* Consult with an outside party. Sometimes, it is easy to get so caught up in the situation that you can’t see it clearly. Talking to someone like a counsellor who is not directly involved can be a great way to get an outside perspective that is honest and unbiased.
* Go easy on yourself. Everyone feels anger at one point or another. Don’t feel bad about the times that you do get angry. It is easy to wind up racked with guilt if you get into a fight with someone else. Instead of feeling awful about getting angry, accept that it is a normal emotion and that it is a part of being human.
Use Strategies to Help You
Most importantly, never bottle up your anger. If you do, you are far more likely to turn to alcohol again to help you cope. To minimise your risk of relapsing, it is important to come up with healthy strategies that allow you to confront your anger directly rather than hiding it inside.
The process of getting over a drinking problem doesn’t happen in the blink of an eye. You have to learn new ways of coping with life and new strategies for living. Oftentimes, recovery takes a long-term commitment. Some patients even have to go through treatment multiple times. No matter what it takes for you to recover, it is important to realize that it is okay. As long as you continue working toward recovery, you are on the right track, even if you fall off course every now and then.
You have the ability to choose to be sober. The key is to acknowledge that you have a problem and to start taking actions that lead you down the path to recovery. Until you make that choice, it will be much harder for you to control your urges. Going through treatment is a great way to figure out the triggers that cause you to turn to alcohol. From there, you can learn how to deal with those triggers more effectively, improving your chances of sticking with your recovery programme.