We are always looking for the quick fix, the instant gratification, but we know it really does n’t really exist. Most things, almost everything takes work, most of the time hard work. Fixing things is not always easy and can be messy, frustrating and challenging. If you are like me you avoid those things by looking for the quick fix or just sweeping it under the rug. I am speaking to emotional things here not the overflowing toilet or the broken toy for my son. The stuff we try to fix about ourselves or within ourselves.
For me that is drinking, to start anyway. I kept telling myself if I fix that everything, else will fix it’s self. Really? How could I be so naive to believe that if I stopped drinking my marriage would magically get better or my relationship with my children would just instantly be perfect like Leave it to Beaver?
The things I drank over were vast, motherhood, relationships, shame, inability to be perfect, worrying about how other people would treat me or my family, sports, childhood disagreements for my kids, the list goes on and on. But these things to drink at and my feelings were so much deeper I just never took the time to look at them, I would just observe them and then drink them away. Well, at these that is what I thought. These feelings and worries never went away in fact they began to amplify, and over time become overwhelming to the point I would have so much anxiety It was hard to breathe and I shifted to a shell of myself and a dark place that just kept getting smaller and smaller with what felt like no escape.
I never really realized that I was drinking to avoid, numb or just live in denial about how things were transpiring in my life and how things were becoming messier and messier due to my drinking and checking out. I did not really fix things. I denied they existed, got defensive about them and when asked or confronted I would fly into a rage. I often cried in secret when it all became too much and about what a failure and fuck up I was as a professional, wife, mother and friend. I would drive home from work in the dark and scream at the top of my lungs because I had no outlet accept to drink. Those primal screams were terrifying, crazy and I seriously believed I was starting to loose my mind. My reality was slipping away and I knew the curtain was coming down on my reality, soon I would truly be found out or I was going to go some place very dark that I was not sure I would be able to come back from.
When I finally realized that drinking too much was going ruin me and that I was using drinking as way to not really address anything I was terrified of. By that time it was getting out of control and manifesting in very bad ways. Resentment, shame, anger, fear, and failure, worry and most important I think a lack of love or caring about myself or some of those close to me. The resentment and shame made me more anger, which in turn meant many outbursts, lashing out, blaming others, being mean and hateful.
My ability to love my boys and husband was getting further and further away from me and I was both terrified and ambivalent at the same time. Who had I become or should I say who have I always been, this scared little girl who hid from everyone and everything, never letting anyone in so they could not hurt me. There were moments in time I would have been happy to walk away, free myself from all of their shit and lack of respect for me. But there was the other side that I knew if I turned my back, I would lose myself forever and devastate the people I loved.
I stopped drinking twice now for good stretches of time, not years but 3 and 4 months chunks of time and many things changed for the better but new things emerged or became more clear which also terrified me.
In these periods of time, I became more engaged with my boys and talked with them vs. yelling at them and being impatient. I could rationalize with them and discuss things to work through them versus huge blowouts and long stretches of hatred and shame. I would listen to them, most importantly vs. talking at them. I spent more time with them and was more available.
Those were the good things. The other things that emerged were how much I was resentful of my husband and how much I very much hated the way he talked to me and treated me at times. The verbal noise and disrespect was blurred and far away when I was drinking or caused reactions that were not healthy but when I was not drinking I was able to see things clearly and my responses were not combative or childish. They were mature, thoughtful and came from a place of clarity and strength. I would shut down arguments and call him out when he was creating stories or future tripping where before I would spiraled with him and been overly anxious and always worried about why people did not like me, why I was the problem, why I was weak etc.
When I stopped drinking I would be able to shut down unproductive conversations. I would simply walk away after it had started calling out the fact my husband was telling himself stories or calling him out on his behavior, including a rationale explanation for why it was not right and I wouldn’t stand for it anymore.
I started questioning what I was doing with my life. What I really wanted to do, who I wanted to be with and how or if I should make different decisions for the future. I was starting to dive into how I go to this place, how I was not the mother or in the relationship I wanted to be. You see it all stems back to the things we don’t want to fix or take the time to learn how to fix. We just look for the quick fix which in my case became drinking. When I was younger I would just pick up and move so I did not have deal with the mess I made in my currently world. I would run away from everything and everyone. I would blame everyone else and never examine myself. In all honesty, I did not even know how to look at myself or my behaviors or that learning to love yourself was a thing. I was what everyone else wanted me to be. I would move, I would switch jobs, friend groups, anything I could to escape myself but you know the old saying “no matter where you go, there your are looking back at yourself in the mirror.”
I would try to change myself, want I liked, who I liked so that I could move forward. Never stopping to do the work to fix what was really going within me. I kept jumping into new relationships and looking for those relationships to take everything away, the fantasy of finding “the one”.
I would go back to drinking during these two stretches only to realize very quickly things would go right back to the same place, no progress to the me I wanted to become. I would go right back to isolation, just not engaging, checking out completely. Disappearing quite honestly. And that shook me to my core!
Now that I have sober AGAIN for a good stretch of time, I am trying to do the right work with the right tools. Even if it leads to hard discussions, choices I am facing them. I will not rush, or move fast but make very solid and investigated decisions. I will take the time and re-engage, work my way back to who I want to become and how I want relationships to be, healthy, mature, nurturing, loving and open/honest.
There are no quick fixes, there are no magic spells, there is only the work that makes us stronger, smarter and more alive. I am in this for long haul and time is important but this is not a race and I am not looking for instant gratification. Only love and admiration.