Perfectionism

I listened to an episode on the bubble hour about perfectionism. I’ve never really seen myself as a typical perfectionist. I was really surprised to learn that many alcoholics have this trait in common.

I was also flabbergasted to learn that I fit the profile.

A couple of signs that you might be a perfectionist:

1) You’ve always been eager to please.
2) You know your drive to perfection is hurting you, but you consider it the price you pay for success.
3)You’re a big procrastinator. (fear of failure to thank for this one)
4)You’re highly critical of others.
5) You go big or go home.(black and white thinking)
6) You have a hard time opening up to other people.
7) Obsessing over every little mistake you make.
8)You take everything personally.
10)You’re never quite “there yet.”

Perfectionism is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. I tick both those boxes.

I’ve always felt like everyone else in the world has their shit together and I don’t. I had to try and fake my way into looking like I had my shit together, so the way my life looked on the outside was of utmost importance.

Throughout my addiction my kids were always well turned out, house was for the most part tidy and organised and all was well. Toward the end of my addiction though the chaos started creeping in and I couldn’t maintain my ‘perfect image’ any longer. Things went  downhill fast. I got sloppy. I hate sloppy. This caused more shame and continued the spiral downward so much faster than I was ready for.

Oprah did an interview with Dr Brene Brown about perfectionism and authenticity.

Oprah summarised one of her “a-ha” moments as “Perfectionists are ultimately afraid that the world is going to see them for who they really are and they won’t measure up.”

Dr. Brown agrees. “I call perfectionism ‘the 20-ton shield.’ We carry it around thinking it’s going to protect us from being hurt. But it protects us from being seen.”

I’m so glad listened to that episode because I’ve had my own a-ha moment. Now that I know that this is what is driving me, I can consciously recognise it and try to do something about it.

Hey world, this is me, I might be deeply flawed but for the first time in a really long time what I think, say and do is in alignment and that is such a massive relief!

Link to interview:
http://www.supersoul.tv/supersoul-sunday/dr-brene-brown-on-faking-it-perfectionism-and-fear

 

It’s all fun and games till you fall over at the school bingo night

When I woke up it felt like a freight train had hit my head. Something evil had my head in a vice and I couldn’t breathe. My whole body ached and was sore, it felt as if I had been beaten up, my skin was crawling. A message came through on my phone. I couldn’t open both eyes. I read the message: “Hi lovely, just checking that you are ok. you were a little worse for wear last night, a couple of falls at the school gate. Hope you are ok?”

I looked around the room, I was still in my clothes from the night before. Jesus fucking Christ what have I done?

I was desperately trying to piece the night’s events together. Ok, I was at the PTA bingo night, we were all laughing and joking around…and then nothing…a void. Some blurry flashes started coming back…I was on the bathroom floor with my friend. I couldn’t walk. I fell.

I text her back. Fuck!!! Did anyone see me??? All the fucking PTA school mums?

I was in tears, warm alcohol soaked tears that smelt of gin were rolling down my cheeks. Text came back. “No she said, we waited in the bathroom till everyone left.”

It turned out that I was so drunk I couldn’t stand up straight or walk. I fell and knocked my head on the koi pond. I was out cold for 10 minutes while my friend was wondering whether to call an ambulance. Eventually she managed to half carry me to the school shed. She rang another friend to come help carry me over the school gate and put me in a taxi home.

That was it. That was the turning point for me. There is no glossing over that or denying that you have totally lost control over how much you drink when you fall over drunk at your kid’s school.

I’ve had several of those types of moments in my life, and I think it’s true sometimes it takes a couple of rock bottoms to really reach ROCK BOTTOM.

Tonight I went to a quiz night at the school. I really didn’t want to go, but forced myself. I was so nervous, didn’t want to face the memories of that night and I cried all the way there.

As I walked past the koi pond where I fell and knocked my head I saw the lotus flowers in the water.

Something beautiful out of the murky darkness.

So, how bad did it really get?

I need to fully explore and put this into words so that I can refer back to it when I need to. If my history with alcohol has taught me anything is that after a couple of months of sobriety the rosy glow fades. There will come a time when the voice, lets call him “Jack” pops up and says (In the voice of a sleazy salesman):

“Hey girl! You’ve been so good, been sober for x amount of time and you haven’t slipped up once! You’ve shown that you can control it and besides honey, you were never THAT bad! There are so many people in a worse of state with booze than you, I mean you hardly drank during the week! Everyone drinks! Come on, we all deserve to cut loose sometimes, cut yourself some slack. You’re too much of a perfectionist that’s your problem. Have a glass of wine, GO ON HONEY YOU DESERVE IT!

So, how bad was I?

Its true I allowed myself to drink one night of the working week. So I was sober 3 days. This didn’t apply to holidays of course when I was permanently sloshed. The other 4 days of the week I drank as much as I wanted to which was quite a bit. I would say one and half to two bottles of wine on average and then more on weekend and parties, it really all depended how long the drinking session lasted. One weekend I specifically remember I finished almost 1 liter of Gin on a Saturday! We were just having a barbecue at home, stated drinking at 12 and carried on till the early hours of the morning.

Blackouts started happening very regularly I was blacking out almost every time I drank no matter the amount, this scared the shit out of me. I was losing half of my life to a world of which I have to recollection. It was like leading a double life.

From time to time I would get reddish blotchy skin rashes when I drank like I was allergic to alcohol. Rosacea I think it’s called?

I was really paranoid around people in the morning.

Needed to secretly drink when my father in law was here for Christmas. He’s a teetotal and my husband all of a sudden developed an ability to only have one glass of wine?!
So I had to improvise and drank my wine in the shed in the garden.

At social gatherings when everyone was drinking very little or too slowly I’d sneak into the kitchen and take a couple of swigs from whatever bottle was open.

I drank most of my hangovers away with the exception of the Monday hangover wich was complete and utter hell to get through.

Couldn’t stand people who didn’t drink or that drank very little! I thought they were ‘holier than thou’ boring idiots.

I was in a constant state of stress because I was withdrawing from the last binge so I was dog tired.

I was obsessed with drinking to the detriment of everything and everyone else around me. I was either recovering from my hangover or planning my next session. My life really did revolve around it.

I used to wake up with bruises, didn’t know how I got them.

I’m sure there’s more, I’ll add it as and when I remember it.

Sad/Mad today

I feel really sad today. I was looking through old photos of the kids on Facebook. You know the disingenuous FB posts where it says. “Here at Facebook we care about your memories look at this post from 3 years ago!”

Looking through the photos I was remembering the mother I was. I was SO fucking tired, I didn’t know what I was doing half the time and I was drinking to ease the depression.

I’m so sad for her! I want to give her a hug and tell her that it’s going to be ok and that she will get out of the fucking pit of despair that is alcohol addiction.

As I was scrolling through the posts on Facebook I came across several posts (my own) that made me angry.

Post like these
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These posts help normalise my drinking, made me feel like I didn’t have a problem because I got so many likes, laughs, comments and re-shares.

It occurred to me that I might have quit sooner if I didn’t live in this permissive enviroment where everyone is using alcohol to self medicate.

This culture we live in has a lot to anser for. It’s not fucking normal.

Sorry about the rant. I’m off for a run to recalibrate.

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Effects of alchohol on your appearance

True Activist published a new article today about the effect that alcohol has on your appearance, to read it click here

It begins with: “Drinking alcohol might seem like the normal or ‘hip’ thing to do, but consuming it in excess over time can take a toll on one’s health.”

I am so impressed that they used the words “might seem normal”.

Ok, I know this is ‘True Activist’  an anti media news site that “exposes  the truth one lie at a time” so it’s not exactly mainstream, but the message is getting out there that consuming alcohol at least in excess is not normal.

The before and after photos are very inspirational. Most of them are of young-ish I would say 20-30 somethings that obviously partied too much. The main difference in the before and after photos is their weight and also their skin tone.

This is all very encouraging but that got me thinking about weight. One of the biggest and most coveted benefits of stopping drinking is usually listed as losing weight.

The trouble is that if you have an unhealty relationship with food on top of an alcohol addiction the chances are you won’t lose any weight when you first stop drinking. In fact since I stopped drinking 3 months ago I’ve put on 5 kilograms. The 5kg might have a little something to do with the truckloads of Magnum ice cream I devoured whilst re-watching the desperate housewives boxset (you do what you gotta do during those first months to stay away from booze.)

My many previous attempts to stop drinking had not necessarily hinged on the weight thing but it was a massive motivating factor to stop. If I didn’t lose a stone in the first 3 months my resolve was significantly weakened.

I would tell myself things like: “I’m being so good by not drinking, at least I should have the benefits of looking like on of those bikini clad yoga bunnies on Instagram to make up for the sacrifice, damn it!”
This time I know its different for me. I can pick up another stone in weight and I will still stay stopped.

This time It’s not the weight, or the clear skin or the extra money or even the liver health. This time it’s about self-compassion, self-love and self-respect.

I’ve just realised as i’m typing this that I have been lost in a cycle of self-hatred, self harm and self loathing for the best part of 24 years.

No more. Enough now.

Rage & craving

OK, I knew everything was going too well.

Yesterday my husband and I had a fight. I had forgotten to do something and he said some pretty hurtful things. I completely lost the plot. I screamed at him in front of the children.

When we got home I went into the kitchen to wash the dishes and make dinner. I was seething with rage. I don’t mean anger, I mean blind rage that wants to annihilate everything in its path. Everything came bubbling to the surface. All the unresolved fights we’ve had, all the passive aggressive things he did and the insults that I’ve had to swallow.

I wanted to drink, I wanted wine on such a visceral level my body was absolutely aching for it. I needed oblivion and out of this intense emotion. The rawness felt like it was going to swallow me up if I didn’t do something about it. My fight or flight response was full throttle, I was trembling and breathing really quickly. Through all of this I kept washing the dishes , dish by dish, over and over.

By some miracle a voice in my head said : “If you drink tonight, you are going to be in a pile of self loathing tomorrow, do you have the strength for another day one?

I didn’t and don’t have the strength for another day one. I can’t do that to myself again. I’ve done it too many times.

So I kept washing dishes. I made dinner. I laid on the couch and text my old friends who made me laugh and forget about all of it for a while.

This morning I don’t have a hangover. My husband’s apologised but I’m still angry. I will spend time today and do a worksheet (Byron Katie) on the issue. Have a feeling this might need 2 or 3 worksheets.

I survived the rage, it didn’t swallow me up. Still here, day 81!

 

Things I won’t miss about drinking

The self loathing that started at the 4am wake up call, the dry mouth.

Piecing the last nights events together. What did I do/say? How did I get to bed? How much did I drink? Blackouts are the pits!

The all-absorbing thought stream about how much you will drink today, where how and who with.

The pre-loading of drinks when you go to a party where the crowd drinks too slow for your liking.

The amazed look on the check out persons face when you do your weekly shop. “Having a party are we?” No actually that’s just my weekly alcohol consumption sans social interaction or occasion thank you.

The chaos surrounding an alcohol fuelled life, the confusion and disruption.

The lack of rest and sleep.

The black shadow following you around telling you that you are killing yourself and damaging everyone around you.

The denial, justification, lies you tell yourself to make the next drink ok.

Trying to moderate and failing! There is nothing more soul-destroying than trying to climb that fucking moderation mountain and feeling like a complete and utter failure every time you drink too much which invariably happened most days.

The dry skin and red eyes, the puffy marshmallow face.

The red blotchy cheecks and veins around my nose.

The drunken arguments with my husband that turned really dark and nasty.

The sinking black feeling like you are closing up like a telescope.

The eternal jingle jangle of my recycling bin.