I went to a new-to-me AA meeting yesterday and listened to a woman talk about her relapses (she'd had several). She'd had a couple of surgeries and a lot of pain, but that hadn't been the cause of her relapsing. Each time she'd started drinking again, it was because of plain, old life discomfort: anxiety, nervousness, general malaise. She just didn't want to feel bad. The old admonition to sit with your feelings, to sit with discomfort was something she just couldn't do.
I felt such empathy for her and I wondered if this is at the heart of the reason why so few people get sober and stay sober, an intolerance for that kind of discomfort. It was certainly why I started drinking and probably why I kept drinking until I crossed some line and couldn't not drink. I didn't want to be uneasy, or jealous, or anxious, or off-kilter.
Because I couldn't stand those feelings, I became addicted to soothing. It's why it isn't just alcohol in my life that is/was the problem. Work soothes me, eating soothes me, shopping can soothe me. Not everything that soothes me is bad but that intolerance for discomfort is a tough one for me to handle, to understand, to sit with.