My friend Sherry got me thinking more about comfort with her latest post.

Semantics dictate that alcohol is addictive, that there is science behind the madness. That chemically and brain-i-ally some of us can have just one glass of wine while others of us end up naked and blacked out. Lord. Science is right, but what about what makes us reach for it in the first place? Why?

I have been conducting my own study of comfort. What it is, what it means. How to get it, why we want it. Getting that safe feeling makes us do a lot of fucked up shit. Some of it even makes us feel worse than we did when we started. Like wine. And cake. Is beating yourself up mentally a comfort? Logically I’d say no, but realistically…..well.

Now that I’m eight months into being sober I still am searching for that comfort, that mindless moment of forgetting to do the “right” thing and let it all go. To be free for just that minute. To say “yes yes yes!” when I could say “that’s enough” and save my poor sanity.

I was addicted to alcohol. But what’s the deeper part of that? How do I not shove the cravings down, but set them free? I don’t want wine, but I still want that feeling. The I’m-doing-whatever-I-want-to-do-and-you-can’t-stop-me feeling.

That freedom feeling.

Safe. Loved. Taken care of. Comforted.

What I used to do with booze I do now with food. Too much. Not only am I an alcoholic, I am a too-much-a-holic. I’m starting to realize that maybe that too much isn’t the problem, it’s that I’m not listening to myself. That I’m going for the easy solution (pecan pie) rather than the thing that will really soothe and ease my needy soul.

Perhaps that has been the problem this whole time. That I am looking for comfort, and then making it harder. That I’ve been drowning and suffocating the voice that tells me what I need instead of sitting quietly for a minute and just listening.

Like this:

Me: “Agh. This day is hard. And I’m tired.”
Other Me: “Fuck it. Eat that (insert food here). Have a bite. Have more. Snarf gulp snarf.”
Heart Me: “Hold up, stop eating that. Sit down for a minute. Breathe for a minute. You’re OK. Everything will be alright.”
Other Me: “Chew louder so we can’t hear that! YUM! You feel better! EAT MORE!”
Me: “Agh. This day is hard. And I’m tired. And fat. Why did I eat all that? I might as well just finish. I’m sad. Why didn’t I stop at the right time? I’m giving up sugar forever! Starting tomorrow!”

Notice how the heart voice is the smallest? And how me says the same things over and over again? And this script was the same when I was drinking, like this:

Me: “Agh. This day is hard. And I’m tired.”
Other Me: “Fuck it. Drink that (insert booze here). Have a sip. Have more. Snarf gulp snarf.”
Heart Me: “Hold up, stop drinking that. Sit down for a minute. Breathe for a minute. You’re OK. Everything will be alright.”
Other Me: “Drink more so we can’t hear that! YUM! You feel better! DRINK MORE!”
Me: “Agh. This day is hard. And I’m tired. And fat. Why did I drink all that? I might as well just finish. I’m sad. Why didn’t I stop at the right time? I’m giving up booze forever! Starting tomorrow!”

It’s not enough to scritch and scratch and squash yourself into giving up whatever outside thing makes you feel better. You have to teach yourself how to feel better from the inside out. To make the heart voice the biggest loudest voice you hear. To learn yourself, and honor yourself by hearing how you want to truly be. And then living it. It takes lots of practice, and patience. But since this other way isn’t really working I’ll try something different. And not listen to other me who doesn’t like change, or me being comfortable.

OK, heart me. Speak up. I’m listening. And I’m going to try hearing, too.