Day 21 – Triggers

I’ve been trying to identify some of the reasons that I keep drinking heavily when all appearances might indicate that my life is just fine.  I’ve recorded some thoughts in my journal and have a draft post that I’m working on little by little.  For some reason, it’s difficult to “discuss” the triggers because sometimes they don’t make sense and/or they make me feel weak and dysfunctional.  So, sometimes I have to tuck away those topics.

But this evening, I discovered a new trigger!  Lucky me.  I was talking to my sister on the phone and as we were talking, I began to think about drinking.  I began to have a taste for it and I wished that I had some wine in the fridge.  I even realized that my back brain (that’s what I call the part that thinks and visualizes whatever it wants) was thinking about going to the corner store to buy a bottle.  It had very quiet thoughts about 20 days being enough for now and I could just drink tonight, not count it, and start back up tomorrow.

We talked for about 35 minutes then I was able to end the call.  I felt a lot of anger, I felt caged up, I was frustrated, I started crying, I allowed myself to ponder this situation and came up with a few possible answers.  I read other blogs, made some comments, got some cookies and sat down to try and sort this out.

My sister is four and a half years older than me.  We have always been close.  She has always shown me tremendous love and we have always been a bit closer with each other than with my other sister.  They are both older than me.  As adults, these relationships have evened out and I have excellent relationships with both of my sisters.  But my other sister does not bring up the range of emotions that this one does.

I frequently feel judged by Sister A.  She rarely has the reactions to me and the things I share with her that I hope she will.  I censor myself around her because of the way that she reacts, interprets, or just shuts down a conversation when its something that doesn’t align with her way of thinking.  She is extremely emotional, but not dramatic, and I often avoid being too assertive with her because of how upset she will get.  Plus, its hard to get her alone since my nieces are always around (I adore them and see them frequently).  Truthfully, I would rather spend time with my nieces than with my sister and her husband.  It’s soooo much more fun when it’s just me and them.

One of the things I thought about this evening was that Sister A frequently filled in for my mother’s shortcomings.  My parents are great, did the best they knew how to, and I don’t hold any grudges against them anymore.  But, growing up, there were things they should have done that they didn’t.  Sister A gave me the sex talk, got me into college, taught me how to make a budget, how to use public transportation, got me all my jobs in college, helped me through a major crisis, always had me stay over at her house when she was newly married, cooked for me…everything.  She truly filled in all the places where my mom fell short. I love her so deeply but I also feel alot of anger toward her and I don’t know why.

I often have recurring dreams, have my whole life, and one of the dreams is that I am with family members and we are trying to get somewhere or do something important and no one is doing the right thing and I am screaming at them, mad-wild-put a straight jacket on me- screaming.  Sometimes its at my mom or dad but usually it is at Sister A.  I have never screamed at Sister B in a dream.  Usually, I know the solution to the situation and they won’t listen to me (like trying to call an ambulance b/c my dad was hurt but everyone wanted to walk together to the hospital).  When I wake up, I feel much the same way I felt when I got off the phone with Sister A this evening.

I don’t let her walk over me, I say what I think.  But I also don’t say things that could be said.  I don’t show her that I’m mad at her, I’m never mean to her.  I get very passive with her.  She never says a mean word to me, she is appreciative of all that I do to help her and of the relationship that I maintain with my nieces.  We have fun together and we’re nice to each other.  I really don’t understand why I have these issues with her.  It doesn’t add up for me.  All the evidence would indicate a strong and secure relationship.  I literally wanted to throw the phone across the room this evening, but it’s expensive, so I stalled, did whatever I could to calm down without alcohol and wrote this post.

Thoughts, perspectives, and “a-ha’s” are welcome.  This has perplexed me for years but I never knew it made me feel like drinking.

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9 thoughts on “Day 21 – Triggers

  1. thanks for writing this, something of this post reminds me of my relationship with my younger sisters. i our case, i am the older sister who did the taking care, and it really does make our relationship now, as adults, a little bit strange and strained at times. i think my sisters want my approval, even if we’re just talking about something boring. and sometimes i don’t give them as much approval as they’d like because i just want us to be equals .. i had hoped that as we got older, we could rely on each other more, but i think my younger sisters still look to me in some weird way for acceptance about their decisions and how they’re living their lives. i try to give as much support as i can, but i hold back, too. because i’d like to be able to lean on them sometimes, but i can’t. they completely turn away if i look a bit weak. i’m still the big sister to them (and we’re all in our 40s…)
    so what i’m trying to say (badly) is that sibling relationships are complex, and as you’ve very smartly identified, they’re probably directly related to (and influenced by) our relationships with our parents. it’s a big mess. but your feelings for your sister are probably really feelings for your parents, in disguise. cuz she represents your parents.
    oh who knows what i’m going on about, i sound like Dr. Phil. hope you can find two words in here that make sense …

    • thank you, your thoughts helped me to think more about mine.
      And I agree, my relationship with my family really is not complicated, but it is complex. We like to spend time together but that doesn’t mean its all easy breezy.

  2. “I frequently feel judged by Sister A. She rarely has the reactions to me and the things I share with her that I hope she will. I censor myself around her because of the way that she reacts, interprets, or just shuts down a conversation when its something that doesn’t align with her way of thinking”

    I have not got a clue about this sort of thing – except these words stuck out. You dont feel recognised as YOU by your sister. You are babysister to her – and not the adult you have become. And as you say you react passively to this so you bottle things up and would like a drink to deal with the repression . Warning: This is not even Psycho 101 – I really dont understand this stuff. i really dont know how to improve these things – except that understanding the dynamics better – does, in itself, help. I think if you try to read your post again as an “outsider” you will see you understand it all really well.
    Well done for NOT drinking. Its HUGE that you understand a trigger when you see/ feel one.

    • thank you cleo. Yes, I need to be more truthful with her and she needs to be more open minded about me. An outsider would never see our dynamic because we’re nice to each other, never any fighting or rudeness at all.

  3. “mad-wild-put a straight jacket on me- screaming”…..boy…i’ve done this…in real life. not as a habit but 2.2 years ago..right before I really started drinking..alot. I was thinking about triggers last night, great topic and great job on sitting down to write it all out instead of drinking.

  4. This hits close to home, though not concerning a family member, and yes, it triggers the ‘go get the wine NOW’ instinct. Kudos for being mindful and taking the time to sit with the feeling and get to the bottom of it!!! One HUGE blow for sobriety for you!

    And I think having a sister be, in essence, a parental figure is prime fodder for tense feelings. I’m sure there were a zillion times you wanted to say, “You’re NOT MY MOTHER, you can’t tell me what to do!!!” but you couldn’t. That’s why it’s different with your other sister. And I’m sure Sister A felt a huge weight was placed on her and anything that caused her to feel that she wasn’t doing her ‘job’ right made that weight even heavier and that’s most likely why she became the way she is. You were both placed in situations that built a wall between you instead of fostering friendship and love. No one’s fault. One thing you might do is write her a letter (or even a note) thanking her for all she did for you (if that’s truly what you feel)…it might take down some of those bricks between you and start the path towards friendship instead of ‘mother/daughter’.

    Sorry…I always jump in without asking if advice is wanted. *L* If it’s not, just delete that part of this. 🙂

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