Instant gratification is the desire to experience pleasure or fulfillment without a delay. Sound familiar? As I would walk into the smoky, loud bar and sit down on the red, ripped bar stool, I already felt somewhat at ease. The bartender saw my face and immediately pulled out a shot glass and a bottle of Fireball instinctively knowing what I needed. I thanked her and threw a $20 down and asked for another one as I tilted the shot back, feeling the warm cinnamon burn down my throat. I started to feel the whiskey flow through my veins instantly as I took a deep breath. After the second one, I lit a cigarette and felt like I was finally okay.
Alcohol was my elixir. It was medicine in a tiny glass. Sometimes the medicine came in a frosty glass bottle with carbonation. Most times it was layered with ice and ginger ale. Whether I was celebrating or medicating, alcohol was my go-to fix. It was my happy place, my problem solver. Although now I see that it caused more problems than it fixed, it provided me that instant gratification that I craved. Nobody is patient enough to wait around to feel better, or so I thought. The only thing on my mind on a Friday at work was leaving and going to get a case of beer and drinking on my porch. I obsessed over it so much that I could actually taste it. I created problems in my head so I would have an excuse to do these things. When the time finally came and I cracked that first cold lager, I was instantly gratified.
I had no idea how to handle a rough day at work or a fight with my ex boyfriend once I got sober. I didn't know how to handle anything, for that matter. Finally having normal emotions was an odd thing for me. I was always an emotional person but in my addiction they were extremely irrational. I had to find other ways to cope when I needed a solution. At first it was going outside to chain smoke cigarettes and decompress. A cup of coffee gave me the warm sensation to replace the whiskey. However, I was still unhappy and unsatisfied. I was so used to an instant remedy that when these things didn't immediately take the irritation away, I felt even more upset.
The more time I spent with sober people, the more I learned about patience. I never understood those signs at an AA meeting that say "Easy Does It" and "One Day At A Time". Impatient is at the top of my character defect list. I wanted something and I wanted it now. Once I formed that relationship with my Higher Power I found an understanding of His timing. If I'm meant to have something, whether it's a sense of peace, an answer or solution to my problem, or even another perspective on something, it's going to come, just not on my time. I had to stop thinking I had the power and control.
Eventually I developed that patience. Once I turned my will over to my higher power, I gave up my right to instant gratification. Although problems and feelings come up quite quickly it does not mean that they are supposed to disappear right away. We're supposed to feel so we can heal. We're not supposed to replace one vice with another. Whether it's shopping, sex, or eating, it's not going to fulfill us the way we desire in the long term. Instead we use other practices such as prayer and meditation to find the answers we need. We must be patient enough to wait for the answer and be confident that unless it affects our breathing, it's going to be okay. A shot of whiskey or a line of painkillers is not going to solve our problems, as much as we believe it will. It seemingly makes us forget about those problems or feelings for the time being. It's temporary. Feeling and healing gives us the strength to overcome.
Another thing is, the second we fulfill that desire for immediate relief, we are already thinking about the next one. I guess that explains why I used to order two shots at once. Always chasing the next fix. We are blocking ourselves from having what we want most, for what we want now. Today, instead of relieving myself physically, I focus more on fulfilling myself spiritually and mentally. This takes so much practice. I promise you the satisfaction will last longer, we just have to hang on long enough and do some initially uncomfortable things like pray or ask others for help, for it to appear. After all, the greatest things never came from comfort zones.