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The Fine Balance of My Perfect Imperfection

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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 usually chatted with the cashier about my “hard” day at work spent performed highly skilled tasks. I also made sure to visit a different store each day, so that no one would know that I bought wine that often. Then I would get home, close the curtains, and get drunk alone, wearing raggedy sweats and an old t-shirt.

This was a fine balancing act and every day I walked on the tightrope struggling not to fall off. After some time in recovery, I felt that I no longer needed this charade as I strived for openness and honesty to keep me sober. 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 was actually me. To actually develop who I think I am, has taken lots of effort. Initially, I felt as if I had no clue where to start. I seemed to have missed the milestones that others normally met during their lives. Do I start from now and move forward, or do I backtrack and do all the things I missed first?

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Of course, to start any of this I had to know what I wanted to do or be. But I didn’t. Nevertheless, I went full force ahead making up for the lost time, and for all the wasted years that I felt if I had, I would be able to then be in that perfect place. You know the place where the other 40 something people are – probably married and with kids, with a house and a few cars, and really good jobs and good salaries.

In all this making up of lost time and creating the real me, a new addiction has sprung – perfectionism! Maybe my perfectionism came about because I felt that it was always expected of me. Failing was always equated to being worthless because my parents placed huge expectations on us kids and seemed to value us purely through our achievements – and being an alcoholic was definitely not an achievement. 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.

So, I finally realized that I have been working really hard at being perfect. Perfect by some strange standards, which I am not sure I actually created but I could definitely say that they felt perfect – I lived in a house with my beautiful kids, and a great hubby, and I had a nice job, car, clothes, and stuff.  But at the same time, I was hiding the true state of what my life was really like because pretending to be perfect was way more important.

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I forgot that what makes us human are our shortcomings, weaknesses, and vulnerabilities! It’s the glue that helps us grow and rebuild and conquer the difficulties of life. It’s that nitty-gritty uncomfortable stuff that ends up bringing our family and friends closer.

Now I am learning to see life in all its shades. I am learning to accept that mistakes happen and that they should happen. Not making mistakes means never having the opportunity to truly learn and grow. I am learning that perfection is just an illusion – no one and nothing is actually perfect!

Most importantly, I no longer have to pretend that I am someone who I am really not. Sober, I can finally just be me!

Sobriety is a Lifelong Process

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*From the Sober Courage mailbox*

“I started thinking, “Is this the song that never ends for me?”, or is it me?

On one hand, I had to take a real close critical look at myself and my patterns, and intrinsic behaviors, and on the other hand, I had to take a gentler look at my whole life up until now, what I have been through, survived, my personal accomplishments, things that I love about myself, and look forward to, as a sober and clear human being.

When it comes to relationships, ending them sometimes is simply necessary to regain strong personal and intimate “footing”, instead of habitually “goat-pathing” our way, looking for the easiest and most comfortable paths to “wear out”, that never seems to get us anywhere.

Even when ending a relationship feels “better” on most levels, I have still gone through the grieving process, sort of still am, but just like alcohol, I won’t let myself relapse back into that relationship, or start another.

Our lives are important! Who we are and what we want and need will always be slightly mysterious, a journey of self-exploration has many different paths, and with that, I’m sure, will come a lot of growth and many personal changes.

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Drinking for 35yrs. of my life, I learned many ways to be what people wanted me to be, to “slink” in and out of situations like a chameleon, always feeling inside like a blank piece of paper, living off of appearances and manipulations, self-doubt, fears, and insecurities; now I have committed myself to sobriety and I know throughout the journey ahead of me I will grow, some things won’t be the same, or feel the same, I WILL CHANGE.

I think people addicted to alcohol including me, are very complex people, always in the “habit” of adapting and “shape-shifting”, so new discoveries will create change, in ourselves, relationships, and environments. It’s sort of inevitable.

I ADMIRE YOUR COURAGE. Be confident in your change, IT WAS INEVITABLE. Embrace every new day of freedom, and grow.

This blog a great read, and something I can share with my wife so she understands what I’m going through. Sober nine months now (fist bump), and I didn’t even know I was on the pink cloud. I experienced a perfect state of euphoria up until now. While still attending meetings, I got into the mindset that sobriety is easy now, life is great, I’ve gone through the steps, and I don’t really need to read the big book. These are dangerous assumptions to make.

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God blessed me with a person from my past contacting me whom I needed to make amends to. She forgave me but with her life in shambles, I took it upon myself to help her. My ego popped up out of nowhere and I started feeding off her emotions.

My own emotions came back quickly and I dealt with an overwhelming sense of guilt and remorse for all my actions in the past. I started to combat this by boosting my ego even more. Scary right? Needless to say, I slipped back into my addictive mindset. While I didn’t drink, I can see how toxic this is and how if continued could lead to a relapse. The good news is that my sponsor kicked the crap out of me (we need tough love sometimes), and combated all of the “buts” I was giving him.

So here I am, a wave of emotions, but I know what to do. Read the book, go to God, attend even more meetings. I’ll get back on that cloud and I’m doing what I need to do. BUT, falling off the cloud certainly is traumatic, and it’s incredible how fast our character defects can creep back up if left unchecked. Sobriety is a life long process and I’m doing what I need to. God bless you all and happy recovery!”

Friday Night Pep-Talk: Don’t Drink No Matter What!

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Happy sober Friday once again y’all. Hope you had a good week and are already to unwind, alcohol free.

Today, I am going to unwind by letting it all out, and maybe you had a rough week too and need to unwind also, huh? Well, grab your pen or keyboard, and lets get it all out! Writing out my frustrations has often proven to be a great tool against picking up that drink! Once all the crap is out of my head, I no longer have to dwell on it. I can let it all go, and move on!

So, here is the description of my crazy week – it was crazy! Crazy in my head, crazy at home, and crazy at work! Just all crazy, and I am not even PMSing! Ha! And guess what? I am still sober! How is this possible!?

I just don’t drink no matter what! Yep! No matter what! That means when my work gets nuts, and deadlines are fast approaching, and God forbid our #1 guy is on vacation, and people have attitudes, (or maybe I have the attitude ?), and the work is all piling-up and I don’t know what is coming next, and from where, and I can’t imagine how I’m going to get it all done, I don’t drink!

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That means that when I spend three sleepless nights all because I have let my ego take control, and now I have all this swirling crap in my head about what I want to do when I grow up, and who am I really, and where is my life going, and why I haven’t done this and the other like my friends have, and how come I am not as far in life as they are!

That’s right! I don’t drink! I use my tools!

I had to pull out all my tools this week, especially the ones I picked up in the beginning, when I was counting the hours, and minutes till the stores closed so I could feel safe and not like I was just gonna run out at any second, to the nearest place that sold alcohol, and grab the biggest container of wine that I could find and poor myself a gigantic tumbler of wine! (because really, I didn’t use wine glasses!) Ha! That’s right! Oh, but I digress.

Tools! Sober tools are so important, because most of my life I had only one tool and I used it to deal with everything! But my tool broke long time ago and I have never been able to make it work again. So, I had to pick up new tools!

I often find myself singing this song that I found on YouTube, to help my five-year old with his frustration! It’s Elmo and Common in a video about breathing the monster out. (I known what you’re thinking, but give it a chance!) It’s really cool and easy to remember because it is so freaking catchy.

Watch “Sesame Street: Common and Colbie Caillat – “Belly…” on YouTube:

Here are some of my favorite tools:

Take lots of little breaks!

I take a walk, or a drive, or sit in the bathroom for a bit. Any time away from the given situation can ease my anxiety and frustrations.

Drink lots of water rather than lots of coffee!

I keep coffee intake to a minimum, because coffee will not help me stay awake when I am exhausted, instead it will drain me from the nutrients and the water that my body needs to deal with stress.

Repeat the Serenity Prayer, over, and over, and over!

Repeat a positive affirmation, a meditation or a prayer. It focuses me in a different direction and clears my head up from all the negative thinking.

Keep reminding myself that this is temporary!

No matter how I feel at a time, it does not last forever. I may feel like it does, right now, but it’s really does not, and nothing is ever the end of the world, and whatever uncomfortable, crazy period of time I am experiencing it does not have to be the entire day!

adventure alone beautiful calm
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Whew! Well, those are few of my main tools! Here is a few more form the Helping Guide

Healthy ways to relax and recharge:

  • Go for a walk.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Call a good friend.
  • Sweat out tension with a good workout.
  • Write in your journal.
  • Take a long bath.
  • Light scented candles.
  • Savor a warm cup of coffee or tea.
  • Play with a pet.
  • Work in your garden.
  • Get a massage.
  • Curl up with a good book.
  • Listen to music.
  • Watch a comedy.

I hope you’re doing well, I hope you wrote out some of your frustrations, and I hope that you got a few more tools to add to your toolbox!

Have an awesome Friday Night, and remember: don’t drink no matter what!

What other tools have you used? Please share!