That Fucking Bucket: A Lesson in Triggers

Let’s talk about triggers. I hope this article is just as helpful for the friends & family of addicts as it is for the addict themselves. I believe it’s a good representation of what makes early sobriety so damn hard.

As defined, a trigger is an object or experience that triggers a memory or craving in someone who has an addiction. Simply put, it is anything that makes you crave the object you are addicted to. When becoming sober this can be anything or anyone you associate with alcohol. Part of what is so hard about early sobriety is everything is a fucking trigger. People, places, movies, the smell of cigarettes, boredom, buildings. The list just keeps going on.

You turn on the TV and your favorite shows are now 28 minute adverts for alcohol- It’s Always Sunny, Mad  Men, SportsCenter and The goddamn View. Your favorite restaurant is now a danger zone as they know you and they know your drink of choice. I am sure that once I quit drinking there were more than a few jobs lost at my local watering hole. Some poor kid probably won’t get a college education now because I decided I was done with alcohol.

The-Kid-Crying

One thing that makes sobriety so hard is just how many triggers there are in your life. This makes it extremely difficult to cope with and even harder to prevent. On top of that- it’s hard for non addicts to relate. This causes a huge disconnect in understanding and empathy in dealing with an addict. I mean, how are outsiders supposed to know what might be a trigger if most of the time we don’t even know what they will be. The worst triggers are never the ones you expect- they come out of nowhere and they screw up your whole day. For me- the worst was that fucking bucket.

Twice a week I go to a family-of-alcoholics support group- it is my preferred meeting to keep my sobriety in check. The building we host the meeting in has a VERY nice courtyard area. On one beautiful summer day they decided to host the meeting in the courtyard. Sounded great to me until I walked in and there was that fucking bucket. A 6’ long, 2’ wide metal ice trough used for hoarding glass bottled drinks at business parties and events- just like the one pictured below. Sitting there like a smug son-of-a-bitch.

 Fucking Bucket 2

No one knew it would bother me, no one even knew it was bothering me. It wasn’t until months later that I even told my SO about it; she was sitting beside me at the meeting. But there I was- sitting there, looking at an empty bucket. I didn’t hear a word that was said- I can’t even remember much about that day except for that damn bucket. I knew what it held and I knew the joy it brought people. And I knew I couldn’t participate in that. Ever.

FuckingBucket

It fucked with me- it ruined my day. It messed with me for quite some time actually. Now I can happily say that the bucket and I are doing quite well. It doesn’t give me shit about being sober and I treat it for what it is- a bucket.  But the point is- if you asked me at the beginning of my sobriety what one of my toughest moments would be I would not have guessed it would have been sitting there looking at a bucket. But these are the things you have to prepare yourself for the best you can. And as a friend or family member of an addict it is what you have to be empathetic to because you never know when your addict has just been sitting in front of their fucking bucket.

 

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