My last two posts were written from an unquiet heart!! I need to come back with some calm thoughts.
Very simply put…The beautiful complex brain that we have has two parts which I would like to look at in relation to being sober…
Amygdala. The amygdala helps coordinate responses to things in your environment, especially those that trigger an emotional response. This structure plays an important role in fear and anger.
The prefrontal cortex (PFC) is the cerebral cortex covering the front part of the frontal lobe. This brain region has been implicated in planning complex cognitive behaviour, personality expression, decision making, and moderating social behaviour.
So the amygdala is the reactionary part of our brain, and the PFC is the planning, rational part of the brain. Totally simply put.
When we are drinking and stressed and hungover and have a low opinion of ourselves, when we are playing catch up, pretending we are under control and in general under pressure and anxiety from drink… we can find ourselves functioning mostly in a reactionary way. Our amygdala is excited. Our PFC is ”depressed” i.e. slowed down, by alcohol. So that part of our brain is not firing as much.
When we take away the booze, we are able to halt our quick fire reactions, to think straight. We are able to ask ourselves in a reflective way… WHY did I have such a big reaction to that?? And then we can unravel things about ourselves…. we can make changes… we can be more CONSIDERED in our approach to our surroundings.
I asked myself why I felt so strongly about being called boring…. Why I feel so strongly about my kids (mine particularly but all in general) being encouraged to drink… and I think that is because 1) I feel misunderstood, and 2) I feel defensive and 3) I can see the fallout from overdrinking with clarity.
- Misunderstood. The thing is, there will never be a way of a person who is highly protective of their drinking, to engage and understand a person who chooses not to drink. Particularly if the people are close. The subject is too emotional. I need to be the rational one, to step back and realise that the ”wolfie” voice (Addictive Voice) is very loud and it is impossible for a person with the loud AV to engage their PFC when they are drinking. So a compassionate approach from me is what is required.
- Defensive. What I have chosen to do is very counter-cultural, certainly my culture. I need to realise that being defensive is natural, but useless. See again, loud AV getting in the way of the PFC.
- I am lucky to be able to see the fallout and have been able to step away. The terror I felt in stepping away was real at the time. Terror is a strong word, but I literally was terrified to take the step to stop. Seeing the fallout is one thing, but being able to step away is another. Clarity comes with distance. Compassion is needed from me as the person deeply ruled by the amygdala and not the PFC will not be able to sort this out in their head.
So bottom line: who cares what people think of me. I know my choice is what is best for me. I also know that in certain situations the drinker is not rational. Chemically and physically irrational. So I can have some compassion. They literally cannot help themselves.
So I need to relax. Have confidence in my decision. And lean on my fellow non-boozers….