One known fact about me, well by “known” I mean my husband and my closest friends and my mom know, is that I have trouble expressing my emotions and feelings. I don’t want to be confrontational. I don’t want to stir the pot. I don’t want to make it a “big deal”.
I have been this way ever since I can remember. Growing up I felt I needed to say something only when I was so pissed off that what I said would really get my point across. This was not constructive for me or the receiving party, but it was one of the only ways I knew how to express my feelings. (Let’s just say it wasn’t pretty.)
Looking back on those times in my life, I can see I was wanting to avoid a fight – a fight with my mom, a fight with my brothers, a fight with my best friend, a fight with my boyfriend, or even a fight with my coach. So I shut my mouth. I bottled it up.
But as soon as you put a drink in my hand, man-oh-man, I was fearless. I told off people that would terrify me in my dreams. Big guys at parties that could squash me with their little thumbs seemed to think it was cute that I was literally coming up to them talking trash. I don’t know why I did it except it made me feel powerful.
But now I don’t live a high school/college party life. I have a husband who needs his wife to communicate her feelings with him. And I suck at this part. I really do. I have gotten a little better, but for the most part I usually cry anytime we try to have a discussion about feelings. I think it’s a combination of how I really feel and all of those years of masking my real emotions from myself. It’s almost like my feelings are saying, “Here’s payback for all of those years you had everyone believe you were such a badass. Here come the waterworks!”
Maybe one day I’ll get all of these emotions figured out and have a handle on how to communicate effectively with the people that matter in my life, but for now I’ll settle with soberly sobbing my emotions out.
Please tell me you’ve heard the song “Looking for Love in all the Wrong Places“. It’s not one of my all-time favorite country songs, but it gets the point across. People tend to wander around looking for love aimlessly until they stumble upon it in a place they never suspected.
Well, healing is the perfect word to insert into the song, representing kind of the same thing. We learn to find things, whether destructive to our lives or not, that distract us from the reason we are hurting in the first place. We self-medicate with booze or other drugs. (The destructive kind of coping – which leads to no healing at all.) There are also people who self-medicate with the busyness of life and planning and going and doing. (These behaviors may not seem destructive on the surface, but they can wear you down just as fast as the obvious toxic coping mechanisms.)
I’ve looked for healing in ALL the wrong places, trust me. I binge drank for years, only to let the “real me” escape when I felt drunk enough to blame whatever came out of my mouth on the fact I was so trashed. I volunteered and organized every event at my kids’ schools, to keep myself from focusing on my crumbling marriage. I devoted too much time to running and working out when I should have been sitting in silence figuring out how I really felt. (Maybe I was trying to literally run away from my problems? But they eventually found me.)
There are so many other ways we self-medicate and try to heal ourselves, but until we get down to the root of our issues there won’t be true peace.
One day at a time, my friends.
Progress not perfection, folks!
So, as a recovery perfectionist, I have to constantly remind myself that not every second of every single day has to be planned out. (Even while typing those words the perfectionist in me is saying, “But we sure can plan most of them.”) This is a character defect that I feel a lot of moms and other perfectionists suffer from. We want everything to work out and go smoothly in the way we saw it playing out in our overworked heads.
But there are still certain aspects of my life that I refuse to plan out the way everyone wants me to. For example, I’ve been told way too many times that a blog needs to be planned out days, weeks, sometimes even months in advance in order to be successful.
Well, I’m pulling back the curtain and revealing my little secret…I write, right here with you, every single morning. Why? Because this blog isn’t meant to appeal to the masses of people getting attention on Pinterest and Google. This space here was created to focus on helping and healing.
There are some definite perks to not having anything planned when I sit in my chair every morning. I’m challenged to ask myself how I’m feeling, something I would otherwise not focus on until I’m boiling over with rage or in a puddle of tears. But this place has demanded that I be more proactive about my own emotions and feelings, and for that I will be forever grateful.
When life gets in the way and we all get super busy with all of our day-to-day tasks, we often forget to stop and say a sincere “Thank You” to the people right there with us. I’m more guilty of this than anyone! I get caught up with the kids and the household demands that I often forget to tell my husband how much we appreciate everything he does for us and that his hard work doesn’t go unnoticed.
Sometimes we may feel we’re giving the people we love that gratitude and appreciation, but if those words never cross your lips how do they know your thoughts?
It feels good when people verbally acknowledge our efforts and our strengths out loud. I’m not saying you have to grovel for someone else, but a nice “Thank You” every once in a while doesn’t hurt.
When my husband first quit drinking, it was a difficult first few months. He would wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat because he was getting hammered in his dreams. He has asked me several times if I experience these kinds of dreams and the answer is not really.
I have had a few dreams that make me feel shame and anxiety and definitely pissed me off to no end, but constant dreams of me drinking way too much hasn’t been an issue for me. Daymares on the other had, those have been insufferable for a long time.
Worry is an emotion that lingers way too long around me, like a fog that comes and goes as it pleases. Even as a child I worried about leaving my homework at home, forgetting to study for a spelling test, and not making the volleyball team. To this day, I still worry about minuscule things that don’t really have a lot of impact on my actual life. But when it comes to drinking, I worry about everyone.
I worry that my brother will have one too many beers and get pulled over right as his breath hits that limitation and he’ll go to jail, never seeing his daughter again. I worry that the strangers at the restaurant downing margaritas will forget that the streets downtown are all one-ways and they may head into traffic going the opposite direction. I worry that the man who seems too uptight when he’s sober will strike his wife when he falls under the influence of intoxication.
Worry. Worry. Worry.
But at the end of the day, I have no control over any of it. So what do I do? I have to let go and let God…otherwise I will drive myself crazy…all of the time!
Are you ever haunted by your past? Do you ever see flashes of a time you desperately wish could erase from your memory forever?
You know, those memories that make you cringe while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store or helping your kids pick up their Legos. Those images that made you think to yourself, “Where the hell did that come from?”
Maybe you don’t have vivid images or flashbacks to a time everyone wants to forget, but I bet you have moments in time you wish you could change. (I know I do!) Maybe those memories don’t come to visit you very often, but when they do…man, they can derail your entire focus. But we can’t change the past…so what do we do?
We dig deeper into those hay stacks of memories to try to pull out that one little needle that threatens to torment us for the rest of our days. There is some reason why that moment in time lurks in the corner of your subconscious, waiting for the right time to reappear and shake shit up.
What I have come to realize is when a memory haunts me, it is because I haven’t fully dealt with it. There are countless ways to “deal” with a situation from the past, but more often than not it has to do with not being able to let go of something. Maybe we need to forgive someone. Maybe we need to forgive ourselves. Maybe we need to ask for forgiveness. Maybe we are holding onto resentments. The list goes on and on.
In no way do I believe it’s a good idea to keep pushing those memories aside and not address them, but instead I encourage you to face them and find a resolution to make them go away indefinitely. As I’ve stated before, I don’t know everything. But I do know that letting memories and your past control your thoughts leads to toxicity in your life…even if you’re sober.
The words perfect and perfection used to haunt me. Daily I would remind myself how inadequate I was and how I wasn’t living up to my own expectations. Comparative living and constantly having that “grass is always greener” attitude was really dragging me down.
I’m not sure when the pivotal revelation happened and I decided to stop giving a shit about perfection, but I can tell you how much I’ve changed from that momentous shift in perspective.
I no longer tell myself I’m not good enough. I simply use encouraging words like, “Try harder.” I don’t feel inadequate when looking at someone else’s life compared to my own. I think to myself, “They are on a different path than I am.” I also try, as often as I can, to praise and encourage people I know who are welcoming lots of success in their lives. It’s pretty hard to be bitter when you’re generally happy for someone else.
By no means am I perfect at not being perfect (see what I did there), but I am much more aware that perfection itself does not exist.