Step One

We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable

Yes.

No problem.

I have been powerless over alcohol my whole life, and I could have admitted it every day for at least the past 20 years. No big issue for me. I arrive at this day in my life with a complete certainty that I cannot drink normally. I simply cannot. I tried for many, many years, in every imaginable way, to moderate and control my drinking … and inevitably, as inevitably as the rising of the sun, I failed.

Every Single Time.

You know that phrase, that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome? This is me and alcohol.

If I drink, I will drink too much. I will be ashamed of myself, I will hate myself.

Not maybe, this will happen.

So just don’t do it. Simple. I accept that I can’t drink, I really, truly do.

Step one done.

Except that it’s not quite that simple.

Reading the stuff about step one, and absorbing the other ‘stuff’ about other addictive type behaviours – in my case issues around eating and food, love and relationships, shopping and spending …. these things are also all under the addictions spectrum and I have reluctantly been forced to accept that these things have not been ‘cured’ by my not drinking alcohol.

They are ‘better’ certainly – my issues with food have improved and I am no longer constantly starving and binging;  but its very far from normal. I swing between standing on the scales every morning and weighing up the calorific content of the (skimmed) milk in my coffee, to buying a whole vanilla cheesecake and eating the entire thing in one day. I am obsessed (and really no other word will do here) with my weight, and the value that I put on myself is directly related to my weight. The thinner the better. This is profoundly unhealthy but I have absolutely no idea how to shift this thinking. TBH just admitting it feels really really hard, harder than admitting to having no control over drinking. Ugh. SHAME, and you cant really go cold turkey on food… I know, I’ve tried.

I’ve become wiser when it comes to relationships, I know I’ve truly stuffed it up in the past so now I avoid. Completely. Although actually I don’t. I still have the fantasy in my head of a nice partner so periodically I download a dating app to my phone, spend 48 hours messaging various men, and then get terrified and delete the app. Bonkers. I don’t actually DO anything, but I’m hardly approaching the opposite sex in a calm, rational balanced way.

My financial situation is better now than when I lived with ExP. But it should be better than it actually is. Late night amazon shopping sprees are less frequent and less impulsive, but they still happen. Shoes, handbags and clothes have become an antidote to feeling horrible. The urge to ‘get away’ on holiday comes over me VERY strongly, and the urge to just spend on anything is not unknown. Sound familiar?

I feel sick. And cold. And exhausted

This is step ONE, I look at it and it looks EASY .. I’m an alcoholic, yes yes yes, Next …

Now I am not only an alcoholic I’ve got a whole fucking array of ‘holics’s’  and ‘isms’ … and I’m powerless over them all ? And my life is unmanageable because of them ? Great. Just fabulous, fantastic. hoo-bloody-ray.

Its true though.

Sigh.

Failure to address /deal with the other addictive, avoidant type compulsions  is probably whats preventing me from achieving what I desperately want. A peaceful normal life. A balanced response to stimuli (of all types)

The second part of this step “our lives had become unmanageable” I only really clocked when I started doing the ‘homework’ which involves a whole load of thinking and inventory making. Much as I disliked admitting it, and struggled to deny it, my life was completely unmanageable when I was drinking and living with exP.  By sheer force of will I held on by the skin of my teeth but in constant screaming, searing emotional pain and with little respite from gut wrenching anxiety. I can accept that my life was unmanageable with a combination of alcohol and that relationship, but both are now gone. Why do I not have serenity, peace and positivism washing around me? It IS better, life is SO much calmer, and there are moments of real joy… but, BUT despite my work with Brene Browns stuff, and my conscious efforts to ‘love myself’ – there is still far too much self blame, internal hostility and struggle … I think, and I will d/w Angela, that this is due to the unaddressed issues above. Sigh, more work, more heartache and more horrible emotions.

So, taking the whole thing ALL of it ..in what ways has my life become unmanageable ? In what was / IS my life unmanageable …

  • Emotional Consequences:  I have felt hopelessness, despair, guilt, shame, remorse, depression, paranoia, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, loneliness, emotional exhaustion, fear of going insane, feeling like two people (living a double-life), suicidal thoughts, , fear of the future.
  • Physical Consequences:  for me these include  high blood pressure, weight loss & weight gain, unintentional injuries from falls, multiple bruises I have no idea how I got, abuse by others which I allowed because I was drunk, trouble sleeping and trouble waking up, physical exhaustion, abnormal blood tests, cutting myself accidentally when cooking, burning myself when cooking,
  • Spiritual Consequences:  feeling disconnected, feeling abandoned, feeling anger toward God, emptiness, lack of faith ( I have always deeply envied people who have faith) , loss of values and morals. Living a life against what I believed to be right and the dreadful cognitive dissonance that ensued from that.
  • Family and Partnership Consequences: Lots of unhappy relationship strife, loss of respect for myself, alienation from my children esp son 1,  jeopardizing my family’s wellbeing, scaring the kids by being drunk; loss of emotional control, shouting at children, inconsistency in parenting,
  • Career and Educational Consequences: actually not much in this category. I’m in a stable job and have been since before my alcoholism was a huge problem – I was always VERY conscious of how easily it could all come tumbling down though. Ive coped quite well with the stresses and could be said to have built a successful business. Still feel like an imposter and so very tired of it at times.
  • Financial consequences  I’ve borrowed a heck of a lot of money. I’m only ok because I earn extremely well , but I have NO savings and am one salary away from disaster. Even now. I also have pretty poor pension provision due to earlier fiscal stupidity. Not great really for a 53 year old woman.

So, my step one, previously thought to be easy easy easy – not quite so much now. I feel terrified, panicked, exhausted at the thought and there is a very small nagging voice at the back of my brain that my primary addiction is not in fact alcohol (although as I said I am clearly alcoholic) but food …..

Oh shit.

eating disorder

 

 


4 comments

  1. Thanks for writing about your step work, and I have been reading your blog since you have started writing. Only have commented a few times here and there… but I admire your strength. You’ve been through a lot. Figuring out and admitting to an eating disorder is terrifying however will be empowering in the future. It’s not your fault, it’s how our brains get conditioned under certain circumstances. And food is a whole other animal from alcohol, but I think there are a lot more of us out there with both conditions than not. I know when I follow a meal plan it gets easier and once I am off the meal plan my brain goes squirrelly really quick. It’s not something that is going to go away completely ever, it can be managed. What works for some people doesn’t work for others, just like sobriety. There’s lots of forums out there… finding compassion for yourself and your struggle is key and also the most difficult part. It’ll come, you’re headed in the right direction. Hope I haven’t said too much.

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    • Thank you for that. Truly, i write for myself, to order my thoughts but i find it lovely when someone says its helps them understand something or feel less alone. I’m just so tired of my unmanageable eating habits and the emotional pain I’m in every single day. There has to be a better way than this xxx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I just wanted to say thank you so much for sharing this, I thought it was just me. The food, money, shopping, relationships, your honesty made we cry for you, me and anyone else going through this. I hope doing the steps is your way through it. Please know you are a tremendous person. With love, and tissues!

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    • Grace, you are not alone! Yesterday I felt like I literally could not live for one more day in this much pain (which is a bit daft when I’ve been living like this for decades) but it’s as though slowly I’ve been stripping back the layers of defence, and this was the final plaster ripped off. When I arrived at my therapist yesterday, my first words were “ you’ve got one hour to stitch me back together” . But you know what, I survived. I muttered the serenity prayer many times yesterday, and I survived the emotional pain and distress. I’ve admitted it all, and I survived. One day at a time. Big hugs Grace 🌷xx

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