Dear God this is taking me a LONG time.
I sometimes feel I’m so deep in all the psychology and therapy and steps and analysis and recovery programme that I will NEVER get out. It’s all taking such a fucking LONG time … and its SO painful.
Now I’ve got that out of the way, my rational brain tells me that I was really freaking SICK in the head until not that long ago. That I lived for at least 25 years drinking excessively and for 18 years in abusive, scary, frightening and destructive relationships. I have barely had a single day in the last 37 years that I haven’t worried about my weight, lumps and bumps… That all that time I had NO IDEA how to help myself get out of the mess I was in. That this is a PROCESS, that I started it on the day I committed to stop drinking and I cannot stop now. I cannot un-know what I know and I cannot turn the clock back (nor to be honest would I wish to).
I think I began using food as a coping mechanism when I was about 16 years old (certainly that’s when I remember starting eating and vomiting in an attempt to control my weight). Very soon I was old enough to use alcohol in the same way. Food or alcohol was my way of dissociating from feelings which would have been too overwhelming to experience – feelings such as abandonment, social anxiety, isolation, loneliness,
From the work I have been doing reading Brene Brown and in my inventory I have come to realise that the issue at the bottom of all of this shit is that I have spent my entire adult life running from my feelings. Numbing my feelings. escaping in any way I could from actually accepting what I am feeling. Through drinking, starving, binging, purging, spending, falling in love, being miserable in relationships, all of these strategies have been adopted basically to get me to avoid FEELING. Anything. but especially emotions I was taught as a child were unacceptable.
After a huge binge / purging session I know exactly what Im feeling, no more confusing emotions. I feel sick because I’m full to the point of bursting and I’m consumed with self-loathing because I’ve “failed” yet again. When I succeed in eating NOTHING at all for a whole day I feel powerful, in control, strong and “good”. When I was drunk of course I felt exactly nothing because I was, well, drunk. Hangovers, and associated self loathing also numbs all emotions other than shame, self disgust and despair.
Why is this? why have my feelings and emotions been so shut down, that I cant bear to feel them, acknowledge them ? why does how I truly feel seem like a completely obscured vista, where all I can see are some strong shapes which represent shame, self disgust and self loathing?
Am I just extremely sensitive? A person who ‘feels things’ so intensely that they become unbearable, and as a young person I literally could not bear it?
Is it partly the societal expectation that encourages us to show our best selves to others and to appear strong, independent, and upbeat. See the whole ‘Facebook’ horror …which goes something like this ….we look at our friends Facebook feeds and everything looks amazing; adventurous holidays, smiling happy families, perfect BBQ parties …
We then fall into the trap of comparing our real, messy, imperfect lives with “highlighted snapshots” of others , which adds to a pressure to keep up our own “everything is great” exterior. But these images we portray to others don’t show the whole picture. We might be depressed, or anxious, or alcoholic, our kids may have problems, we may be in debt etc etc . Others see that burnished shiny happy exterior and we hide reality. This all leads to us to feel isolated from other people.
One thing I know for sure after the last 796 days. I cant do this alone. I cant be isolated. I NEED to have meaningful connection and honesty in my life. I have to be vulnerable and truthful with people I trust to have a hope in hell of surviving.
So yesterday I have called my sober sister, I had a therapy session and I also met with three women from AA, women I feel proud to call my friends, women who ‘get’ this whole messy addicts world. And I talked, and listened and talked and talked and talked. And I connected, and felt less afraid, less vulnerable and less lonely.
And I survived the day. Sober.
And today, later today, I will collect my beloved first born son from the airport, and tonight all three of my boys will be safe, under my roof.