When I left an all-consuming, suffocatingly toxic relationship in my twenties, I worked with a therapist to find the parts of myself that I had sacrificed in order to keep the relationship active. I had dulled and undercut all of my needs and senses to align myself with this thing that stopped serving me a long time ago.
I did the same thing with alcohol.
Much like in this romantic relationship, my relationship with alcohol distanced myself from things that actively pleased me, and it made me put my needs last, in the pursuit of its false promises. Alcohol literally warped my senses. In the realm of trauma and emotional pain, the experience of connecting with your body can be a terrifying prospect without the chemical buffer. However, connecting to my senses as an act of reclamation as far as sensation and pleasure has been a really fun way to connect with myself. Taste, sight, sound, touch, and smell aren’t without their own complications as far as triggers, which are always necessary to be aware of, but learning about my senses in a way that is safe for me was a new world of discovery. It was a foundation for the self-rediscovery to come, dropping into my body and working from there.
I would joke that alcohol burned off all my tastebuds, with its ethanol kiss. I don’t know if I ever even liked the taste of alcohol, or was just reacting to how it made me feel as soon as it hit me. On top of that I have a lot of experience with eating disorders, so in early recovery I couldn’t tell you anything about taste that wasn’t highly disordered.
Now I get to have an unfiltered view of taste. I used to think drinking expanded flavours and made them more intense, but when I really was a present human in the world, my experience of taste was unlike I’d ever felt it before. I have a visceral memory of eating a granola bar in early recovery, and I couldn’t believe all the different flavours I had missed before when food was either an inconvenience, something I vomited up afterwards, or something to line my stomach.
Eating disorder is a huge part of my story (I have a highlight about it on my Instagram page) so I’m more than aware of the complicated relationship between food, restriction, and addiction. If this is challenging or brings up a trauma response, don’t push yourself. If this isn’t a joyful rediscovery for you, try it further down the line
How does it feel to be in touch with your physical senses? Overwhelming? Refreshing? Pleasant? Scary? What are your favourite tastes and flavours?
Two tiny things:
- Really taste something today. Don’t eat on autopilot, really check in and experience the sensation of flavours presently.
- Make sure you drink enough water today. It’s a boring one, but it never fails.