A Lovely New Neural Pathway
Recently, I keep rewinding to 2015 when 21-year-old me was in the final year of her undergraduate study, and was on her way to buy wine after yet another fight with her boyfriend of the time. I watch as she cries and tells her best friend she “needs wine” to help her through the sadness before saying “it’s probably bad my first thought was wine.” I wish I could shake her then and there and shout “IT IS BAD! PUT THE VINO DOWN!” but I can’t, so I watch as she shrugs it off and goes home to sink the bottle.
Throughout those three years of study and the subsequent two years of lolling around Australia, I drank pretty much daily. There was always a seemingly justifiable reason such as “I’m young”, “it’s sunny” and “everyone else is.” What I didn’t realise was every time I reached for the booze in response to an emotion or event, I was paving a neural pathway in my brain that would keep me stuck in the alcohol = solution thought process for quite some time.
When I really think about it, it was bloody hard work building that neural pathway! Spending my last scraps of cash on pints, staying up for days on end, throwing up until my stomach muscles hurt, desperately trying to remember the night before through skull-splitting headaches. Jeez, it was exhausting.
Now I’m trying to pave a new pathway. A healthy one that is lined with pretty little flowers and beautiful trees, rather than empty beer cans and discarded takeaways.
Building this new path is indeed its own form of work and I’m constantly having to remind myself to not go into autopilot and take the first exit to drinksville. However, I know with time I’ll automatically take my lovely new sober path without a second thought. I’ll stroll down listening to the birds and the bees with a huge smile on my face.
I know it’s going to be hard work, but man is it worth it!