When I was drinking I worked very hard to make my life look perfect because I certainly did not want anyone to know how messed up it really was. The entire charade was almost an addiction in itself as my yearning for a “normal” life, was as strong as my need to drink.
In public I was always well dressed and made up. I would actually take a shower and put on makeup to go to the store to get my wine, even though I was usually hungover or still drunk. I made sure to visit a different store each day, so that no one would notice that I bought wine every day and possibly suspect that I had a problem. I tried not to buy the really cheep stuff either, though I really did not care if the wine was any good, whatsoever. I just did not want people to think that I could not afford anything better. So I always got wine that was on sale – it made sense, I was not buying it because I was cheap, I was buying it because it was on sale and I was saving money for that trip to Italy that I was taking in the summer (right…)! I also liked chatting with the cashier about my “hard” day at work spent performing highly skilled tasks, except… I did not have a job. Or tell them about the party that I was having to celebrate a promotion or some great big achievement, except there was no party or any achievements. There was just me, in some raggedy sweats and an old t-shirt, drinking… for hours.
When I got sober, I felt that I no longer needed this charade as I strived for openness and honesty to keep me sober. Now I just wanted to be me! However, I had a hard time figuring out who I really was. You see, most of my life I always became whoever you wanted me to be, or whoever I thought you wanted me to be. Either way, neither one was actually me.
It has taken lots of effort to truly develop who I am… and it is still a work in progress. Initially I felt as if I had no clue where to start. I felt that I have missed all the great milestones that others normally meet during their lives. I could not decide if I should start from now and move forward, or should I backtrack, and do all the things I missed already, first. Of course, to start any of this I had to know what I wanted to do, or better yet, who I wanted to be. But I did not.
Nevertheless, I went full force ahead making up for the lost time, and for all the wasted years that I felt if I still had, I would be able to then be in that perfect place. You know that place where other 40 something people are – probably married and with kids, with a house and a few cars, and really good jobs and really good salaries. So… I went back to school, got married, bought a house, and had kids – all in a span of just 4 years! In all this making up for lost time and creating the real me, a new addiction had sprung – the perfectionism!
Yes, it all had to be perfect again. In the chaos and craziness of running through life – it all had to still appear perfect, and as much as possible, because if you saw this craziness inside my life, well than, you might really not like who I really am. And perfect was making me crazy and just added to the chaos instead of making it better – or actually perfect.
I do wonder often where my need for perfection stems from. I totally realize that nothing is perfect, yet I strive for some kind of perfection all the time! Maybe my perfectionism comes about because growing up I often felt that it was always expected of me. Failing was always equated to being worthless and my parents placed huge expectations on us kids and seemed to value us purely through our achievements – and being an alcoholic was definitely not one of them. Yet at the same time, there was no or little parental approval, or even any feedback at all, and therefore we had no yardstick to tell whether what we were doing was ever good enough; basically nothing was good enough.
So recently while going through some struggles in life, I had realized that I have been working really hard at being perfect again. Prefect by some strange standards, which I am not even sure I actually created, because I can definitely say that my life is pretty much perfect – I live in a house, with my beautiful kids and a hubby, I have a nice job, good car, new clothes, and bunch of stuff. But, I did notice this time that appearing or pretending that everything is perfect seems to be my security blanket, my coping mechanism, my way to feel like everything is still OK!
However, perfectionism takes lots of effort, and most of all it is not who I am. I know this for sure. Inside, I am down to earth, happy go lucky, extrovert! Inside I wish I did not “have to” feel like I need to compete with anyone. Inside I am just a human among humans; I neither want to see life bad or good, life just is. I also really do not want to judge my life as perfect or not, as compared to some crazy parameter that I had created, long, long time ago, which standards I am not even sure about.
So I am learning to see life in all its shades. I am learning to let go of this perfectionism as it serves me no purpose any more. It actually hinders me from being truly open and honest, and the real me. Because truly and honestly, in the end my life only has to be perfect to me.
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