06 December 2020
Sometimes it’s easy to lose perspective on your thoughts and feelings when you’re in the middle of something. It can be hard to see the wood for the trees so to speak. Personally, I didn’t realise I didn’t realise how much I was trying to prove myself over the years, and then it wasn’t necessarily to others but to myself. I couldn’t see how other people saw me, but then, no one can really can they? Instead I assumed what they might think, and tried to live up to the expectations they may or may not have had of me. It’s a hard way to live, because when you’re judging yourself so harshly, it’s unlikely that you’ll ever measure up.
I remember going to visit a friend. They invited me over, but then for some reason the visit didn’t last long. I felt awkward and left feeling a little hurt and like I’d outstayed my welcome, even though I’d done nothing wrong. Feeling like that threw me and I ended up stopping at a shop on the way home, spending a lot of money on a lot of clothes that I didn’t really need. At the time it felt good but afterwards I felt a bit empty. There were lots of things like that though. Those moments when I felt like, when I have this, it’ll make me feel better and I’ll be happy, but they never worked like I thought they would. They never quite hit the mark. Over the years drinking was a bit like that for me too. I longed for that first glass, I looked forward to the release of anxiety and tension, and yet it never quite hit the spot, it was like a thirst that I couldn’t quench. I always seemed to be reaching for something, but when I had it, it wasn’t quite enough.
Recovery is a tricky thing to navigate. There is no right and no wrong. Different things work for different people and that’s okay. Trying to find what works and moving on when it doesn’t takes time. Recovery on the whole has taken a lot longer than I thought it would, but that’s because it took more unpicking than I thought and I’m not saying that would be the same for everyone. Alcohol helps to mask a lot of problems and so you don’t always notice how severe they are until you set them free. I found the release of my emotions hard. The freedom from wine meant my mind was busier than I was used to. I had more hours in the day too which added to my uncertainty.
Without alcohol I’ve found I’m different now in many ways. Not fundamentally because I am of course the same person, but underneath I learned to let down my armour and embrace who I am. I’ve found I don’t like drama or confrontation. Anything on TV that is too dramatic or too near to real life experiences stresses me out. I like something a bit more removed, a bit of escapism. I’ve rediscovered my love of reading and devour books. It’s wonderful to actually remember what I’ve read. I’m quite a sensitive soul, but where I used to hide it, I don’t anymore. I let people know within reason how I feel without giving too much away that it becomes embarrassing. It’s refreshing, and I have to say, I certainly prefer myself the way I am now.
Searching for some external source to make you happy is never the answer. It can be hard to obtain, or hard to keep, and once you get used to it, it often feels like it isn’t enough. Without wine in my life, I feel more whole than I did before. I’m not perfect, but I’m me, not a diluted version, and it feels pretty good to be honest.
Take care of yourselves and thanks as always for reading.
Although it might sound strange as you are reading my blog, it actually takes a lot for me to share my feelings, but I think that’s perhaps because I over analyse them a lot. I try to work out where the thoughts come from and answer my questions myself, probably because in the past other people have asked me why I feel a certain way and I’ve been unable to answer. For example, why I panic so much (anxiety), why I worry so much (self esteem) and why I drank so much (alcoholism). It’s easier to work things out for myself than ask for help, but also, I don’t feel I always need a sounding board for my wonderings.
As I know I’ve said before, writing is my therapy. Getting my muddles out of my head happens far more fluently and coherently via a pen and paper than by chatting, at least for me. I know that won’t be the case for everyone though. It also always makes me feel better to think that someone, somewhere might read my thoughts and find it helps them.
One of my favourite quotes is “Connection is the opposite of addiction.” (Johann Hari). It’s true. Connecting with those that get you, usually through shared experiences of some kind, is valuable. It’s probably one of the reasons AA works so well for many people. It’s possible you’re able to be understood with less need for explanation.
Sharing is scary. Being vulnerable is scary because it takes a lot to admit things you may not be proud of. Some of us struggle to share things we are proud of anyway, so it’s even harder when we’re embarrassed or ashamed, but that shouldn’t stop us from trying. During a conversation recently I was told that there are two perspectives on honesty, one from each side of the experience. It’s strange to think about it, but really, it’s quite right. We all see things in different ways and just because I feel a particular way about something, doesn’t mean necessarily mean either of us are wrong if you don’t agree.
I think the most important thing to remember, whatever our point of view, is to be kind to ourselves and those around us. Who knows what challenges others might be facing, even if they don’t choose to share.
Thank you as always for reading