Wine. It can be your best friend or worst enemy in recovery from a relationship with a Narcissist, Sociopath or Abusive character.
We tell ourselves it helps to de-stress, cope with the kids or drown out the noise of constant criticism.
And to cope with the loneliness of getting over someone who takes emotional abuse to Olympic standard.
Wine takes the edge off. Papers over the cracks and helps you pretend that life’s ‘normal’.
Wine gives the impression that you’re just someone standing at a chopping board cutting onions at 6pm like everyone else.
Not someone who’s recovering from living in a war zone and with every passing day peels another layer of betrayal and lies from a rotten core of a non-existent relationship.
Not someone who lies awake at 4am with a tear soaked pillow of pain and frustration because no matter how much she hates him, she hates herself more for still loving him.
Wine is there when no no-one else is.
Wine is your reward for the everyday drudge of living.
The first glass goes down easy. You loosen up. You start to calm down.
It feels so good.
Now, you can handle it all.
You’re going to be fine.
So f*ck it- lets have another.
And that’s when it all goes south.
- Blame –“It’s all your fault” .Blame is the sharpest tool in the abusers tool box. No matter what they do, you’re always to blame. So drinking, whether problematic or not, will be used as a stick to beat you with. No matter whether you’re drinking for a special occasion they’ll use it against you and justify their accusations that you’re crazy, bipolar and now an alcoholic.
2. An excuse to go back– Guilt and shame are the two most common and painful emotions after leaving an abusive relationship. Even if you don’t hate the abuser, you hate yourself. It’s easier. So you drown your sorrows in alcohol, feel wracked with guilt and shame then blame it on the wine telling tell yourself that your drinking was the cause of what went wrong in the relationship. But the truth is, even if you do stop drinking, it doesn’t stop the abuser being abusive. They’ll only find another way to find fault. And don’t be surprised if it’s your sobriety.
3. No Contact– Staying no contact is akin to going cold turkey from Mr/Miss Toxic. Often feeling like a white knuckle ride. It’s hard enough just trying to get through the days without texting, calling or playing detective on Facebook. So adding a glass of wine or three can completely mess with your head and resolve. Many a no contact’s been broken by drunk texting or 2 am phone calls, only to end up in bed with Mr/ Miss Toxic and the following day, staring at the ceiling thinking ‘What the hell have I done?’
4. Flying monkeys-Toxic people are first class manipulators. If they can’t get to you, they’ll send in those flying monkeys to dig the dirt and strengthen their smear campaign against you. Whether you’re slightly tipsy or just more chatty than normal, by the time Toxic’s finished with you, you were absolutely blotto and drunk in charge of a pram.
5. Chaotic Behaviour- Drinking while emotional can bring out the worst in us making us do things we’d never dream of while sober such as-
- Sending threatening texts or calls to Toxic, or their new source of supply
- Taking your anger out on good friends and family.
- Drunk spending/gambling online
- Jumping in your car to get more wine
- Taking drugs to keep you high.
- Pouring your heart out to an ex who has moved on.
- Contacting shady types on dating sites leaving you wide open to further toxic types.
- Drinking yourself into oblivion and taking to your bed or crashing out on the couch.
- Taking prescribed or non-prescribed medication to help you sleep (which may interact with alcohol causing overdose).
- Purposefully, taking an overdose.
- Contacting friends and family and listening to all their problems. Offering help or making promises you can’t keep and you can’t remember the next day.
- Insisting on spending time with the kids believing that they won’t notice that you’re on the ‘happy juice’ again..
6. Responding to an old Hoover– Checking old texts, emails, voice mails and social media messages from Mr/ Miss Toxic. Believing that now you feel better (the wine’s kicked in) that they’ll be happy to hear from you, and now be ‘friends’ only to be ignored, raged or sworn at and reviled and made a laughing-stock on Facebook and Twitter.
7. Mental Self-abuse– Mentally beating you up can be a lifelong habit originating from childhood. If you’ve never experienced a healthy relationship or had kind compassionate role models you may treat yourself badly and use emotional drinking as a means to further abuse such as binge eating, self-harm or obsessive compulsive behaviour.
Drinking can be fun in the right context, but drinking when you’re trying to keep a lid on a pressure cooker of emotions can be a recipe for disaster.
But that doesn’t mean you have to take a pledge of sobriety and get a taxi to rehab, swearing never to drink again.
The solution is to find healthy ways to make you feel good.
To build your self-esteem and self-worth and process your feelings safely instead of living in anger and resentment, numbing out, running from or getting lost in other people’s stuff.
There’s no doubt about it.
Feeling your feelings is painful.
But it’s also a gift.
And with time this gift will make you happier and feel more alive than any bottle of wine, whiskey or good Champaign.
Because the gift is getting to know the real you.
And that is rewarding.
From the heart x
p.s- If you identify with this blog, please don’t hesitate to contact me or leave a comment below. Thanks for taking the time to read the blog 🙂
Jacqueline Groves is a counsellor/coach with over 23 years of working with women (and increasingly more men) helping them reclaim their lives from emotional abuse from toxic relationships.