Quitting drinking, whether with the idea of quitting for good or just taking a few months off, can reveal holes in our lives that we used to fill with drinking and we then search for ways to fill this hole with something else, to make us whole again.
This blog post is an introduction to the interview I had with Clare Pooley, author of The Sober Diaries and the Authenticity Project where we talked about dealing with addiction through writing.
First of all, we often turn to addictive behaviours such as drinking too much, smoking, excessive social media use or shopping or whatever it might be, in order to fill a gap or hole in our life.
Usually that void is caused because one or some of our basic human needs are not being met. The link between addiction and being unable to meet our basic human needs can be further explained with the ‘Hierarchy of Needs’ created by Abraham Maslow, an American psychologist in 1943.
According to Maslow’s pyramid or hierarchy of needs, in order to be happy, healthy and successful in life, our human needs must be met and we can only move further along in life, or further up Maslow’s pyramid, when our needs are met according to the scale. (picture in here?)
Love and belonging, companionship and affection make up part of the pyramid under social needs and are essential in our happiness and mental well being. When this need is not fulfilled in normal circumstances we might turn to drugs or alcohol to numb out these feelings of loneliness, isolation or a lack of meaning to our life.
Similarly, and according to Maslow’s hierarchy, we might turn to other people or situations where drinking and drug taking is at the forefront of social activities as a way of feeling connected, to have a sense of belonging or to give our life meaning, thus meeting our social needs.
We might not be aware of what the void is but we have a need to fill it. As Clare Pooley talks about, on the outside, her life looked perfect, she had the career, the home the wonderful family but something was still missing which is why the one glass of wine a night, turned gradually over time, into a bottle a night.
When we remove alcohol from our life, we immediately start to seek ways to replace the alcohol and try to fill the void it left behind, which in turn might lead us to discover what the missing piece of the puzzle in our life was originally. It can be many things but in Clare’s case as with many other people that was creativity, in particular writing something she used to do in her younger days, but stopped when adulthood and drinking took over.
And so when she quit drinking, Clare’s journey of dealing with addiction through writing began. What started off as a way to understand and express her feelings, Clare’s blog, ‘Mummy Was a Secret Drinker’ became her source of therapy and in turn, a source of comfort and support for thousands of women all over the world, myself included.
Watch the interview with Clare Pooley here
The blog became a book and now Clare has just released her debut novel, ‘The Authenticity Project’ and as well as furthering her therapy and dealing with addiction through writing, Clare has also realized her childhood dream of being a novelist.
It just goes to show that while we turn to drinking to fill a void in our life, actually removing the alcohol creates space for so many more wonderful things to enter of life, including perhaps the opportunity to realize our dreams.