Alcohol: Life’s Epidural

An epidural was administered in my back before giving birth to my first two sons. The pressure and sting of the needle felt foreign and was very painful. It quickly took effect, pooling my veins with a warm, bubbly sensation. Thus began the contradictory feelings of relief and bodily disconnection.  The mild contractions qualifying my labor disappeared. My legs became ten ton bricks. I felt nothing.

I was conflicted about the effects of the epidural. It was great relief to be free of pain, but I simultaneously felt out of control. All senses lost. I chastised myself. This is what many women do, so suck it up. But still, a tiny voice inside me whispered, “this is not the way for you.”

So, when I became pregnant with my 3rd son, I  chose natural childbirth.

I would be lying if I did not admit that medication free childbirth is extraordinarily painful.

The pain was so intense I feared it would kill me. Convinced I would die, I doubted my decision. This was too much. In extreme agony I howled for drugs, but I was too far along in labor. By now, I shrieked blood curdling obscenities. Out of desperate measure, I flailed my arms and legs as if it would help me escape this biting affliction. No such luck.

At this point, I was like a rabid animal. My poor mother had to excuse herself to vomit from her emotional discomfort at witnessing her daughter in this state. My husband was frozen: a deer in headlights. All seemed futile and chaotic. The doctor (who I know was frustrated with my efforts) suggested that I change my approach on how to rid myself of the pain.

“USE YOUR ENERGY TO PUSH, NOT SCREAM!” she shouted over my f-bombs, “JUST STOP SCREAMING!”

I frantically looked away from the ceiling to that I was roaring. I looked directly into her eyes. I heard her and had a moment of clarity.

There is no turning back; I have to stop the pain.”

So, I did as she suggested because I had no other choice. I harnessed the little energy I had left, and with a few giant pushes, out he came. The pain vanished.  What had felt incredibly out of control and unmanageable, transformed into peace and tranquility instantaneously.

Her suggestion worked.

I replayed this seemingly near death experience; I did it! I pushed through it. I felt it. It hurt. But I survived. I was free of pain at last.

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Alcohol was my life’s epidural for 25 years. It erased my past regrets and traumas, numbed daily worries and resentments, and eradicated my fears and anxieties of the future. Like the epidural in childbirth, it quickly seeped through my veins and arrested all that felt slightly uncomfortable or utterly painful.

Before I surrendered to this cunning and baffling disease, I had deep seeded pain. Towards the end of my 25 year long love affair with alcohol, it was clear that no amount of booze would anesthetize my misery. My inner agony effected my spiritual, psychological,  emotional, and physical health. I hid my addiction and pain from everyone- even myself.

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I am grateful that I willingly accepted the gift of recovery. After many years of willfully trying to control my drinking, I came to a place of complete and utter exhaustion. I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. What once numbed all my mental discomforts, no longer worked. It is a miracle that one day I thought it was a good idea to try AA. (Read my post: The Dream That Saved My Life to learn about my rock bottom dream that helped me surrender). In AA, I learned that I was not the only person in the world suffering from untreated alcoholism.  We were sick people trying to get better, not bad people trying to be good. We learned that drinking was not the problem, but rather, our thinking was our problem. No longer alone, we had each other to get sober with, one day at a time.

Unfortunately, the pain of life and the obsession to drink does not typically end instantaneously like it does after giving birth. But I promise you, if you are willing and wanting, you will feel better over time. If you are patient and take suggestions from those that have recovered before you, you will find peace.  In time, you will have a life you never thought possible, or ever imagined!

Free of past resentments, poor self esteem, and lack of self love, I am finally at peace with who I am. I no longer need an “alcohol epidural” to manage life. I know how to cope in healthy ways. I am able to handle pain – just like I handled the pain of natural childbirth – and survive.