Sometimes I think I forget to allow myself to be small and weak, that I somehow in recovery expect everything to just be freaking awesome and that I’ll now conquer all the things I wasn’t able to face when I drank. Last week was a crushing defeat – or, rather, it felt like one – when in fact all it comes down to is I’m still human, but even more importantly, I’m still Anna. I’m still anxious sometimes and some situations overwhelm me. AND THAT’S OK. But I lost sight of that for a while.
I’ve been working and studying and as usual there’s lots going on around me. AKA life. AKA what is. I’ve bid adieu to a work situation that was throwing me off balance due to a bully, I’m putting my all into studying and I’m in therapy too. Last week I’d also bought tickets for a two-day workshop that I was quite nervous about – a two-day conference with lots of talks relating to addiction and mental health held by industry experts and other important folks. And lil’ ol’ me. Well, that’s how I felt. I even contacted the organiser ahead of booking tickets to check it wasn’t just aimed at these experts but OK for us greener industry wannabes to turn up too. It was absolutely OK, she reassured me and told me to come find her and she’d introduce me to people and make me comfortable. Nice, eh? Stop right there. Come find her? When I crumble at the idea of walking up to people I don’t know and introducing myself?
Anyhoo. Hubby came with me and basically in the moment, right there in the busy conference hotel lobby with people milling about and making small talk, I realised I just wasn’t going to do it. I freaked out and we left. Not a big dramatic meltdown or anything, just quietly tugging at Hubby’s sleeve and whispering “let’s bail”. And we did. And I felt like shit. All the way home through autumnal London on the bus I fought back the tears and felt like the most pathetic loser in the world. Great – clean and sober and back to being me and oh, here we go, I can’t fucking do it. It took a while to pick myself up again and accepting that I’m not the world’s most awful and ridiculous person. I find these things difficult. So what? And I’d had so much happening and feeling wobbly anyway with how things had turned out. Walking into a conference, which to me in that instance felt intimidating and a little scary, just proved too much in all of that. A friend from the counselling course told me “So what? We’ll skip this one and just hit the next one instead. Wanna meet for a coffee instead?” She was going to come with me the second day, given the subject matter is her area of interest too and I felt like such a fool having to tell her I wasn’t up to it. “So what?” she repeated, “I get anxious too.” This was gold dust being falling on my less than ears at precisely the moment I felt like I’m a failure and no one else in the world is as silly as I am.
So here we are and I feel better. Yes, being sober means I can do so much more and BE so much more, but it doesn’t mean everything is suddenly easy and requiring no work. Wine or no wine, I’m still a shy creature who doesn’t always do well in flock situations. That’s just how it is and this time I’d just bitten off more than I could chew, set expectations on myself that perhaps were a little too high and needed to just breathe instead.
Whilst Bully-Face told me there’ll always be a place for me at the rehab and he wants me back to do bank support as I did before this new role materialised, I closed the door on it for the time being. The past couple of months really knocked me and if his goal ever was to cut me down to size he did a fine job of it. I’ve been driving myself nuts trying to weigh up the pros and cons but in the end I just made my peace with the fact that I can’t function like that. So now the road is pretty open (and scary) again. Some options are lined up and I know it’ll all turn out fine.
- Celebrate that it’s Monday and once again I woke up without a hangover, free from shame and regret. Hallelujah!
- Go for a long run around the park. Oh yes, this chick is able to do 10k, you see, because she’s looking after herself these days and her body isn’t perfect but it’s healthy and strong and she’s worked hard at getting herself there.
- Bake cinnamon buns. When in doubt, always bake cinnamon buns.
- Contact a bunch of rehabs to see who might have a place for a sunny and hard working woman who has a lot to offer.
- Get some course work out of the way and finish off the introduction book on counselling.
That’s plenty. Today, perhaps more so than usual, the Serenity Prayer is worth focusing on:
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
With that in mind and doing just that, I’d say on balance I’m doing really well.
Today I’m not going to drink.
6 thoughts on “Stop Right There”
I read a good bit of this with tears in my eyes (so I read it twice – the 2nd time I read it properly) because it felt like I was reading about my daughter. I love her and have been wracking my brains lately because I don’t know how to help her and her anxieties. I’ve decided I’m going to let her read this. I’ve already told her all about you. Enough about her though…I want to tell you how real and honest and inspiring you are. I wish you lived next door to me so I could invite you in for coffee. The way you write, the positives out-weighing the negatives, is hugely refreshing. For some reason though, I thought your bully was a female (no idea why I got that wrong after you’d written about him a few times?) but I had one of them once too. It was a long term thing and I know that I just felt shit when he was around. He was my boss and I HAD to see him a lot though. One day, after he’d given me a job to do in his usual condescending way, I spoke back with attitude and he said “you’re very abrasive Allane” and without thinking I bit back with “and you’re a patronising prick”. I know, right? Not the best thing to say to your boss, but although he was shocked he laughed and we actually sorted it out. We were never friends but he wasn’t so patronising after that.
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You are so kind, thank you for saying all that. Not that I’m getting a little emotional reading your words or anything… *sniff* ❤️ Anxiety is a bitch and her meanest part is she has us thinking we’re useless and no one else ever struggles. It’s bullshit! In fact, one of the girls at work has this little thing she does when her anxiety makes her wobble – she does this little jerky movement, claps her hands together once (hard!) as you might if you’re trying to make someone jump and she shouts (yes, shouts!) BULLSHIT! It’s so good!!! 🙌 And I wish you were closer too, gosh, we have so much to talk about. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️
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Oh, and – “you’re so abrasive”!!! Classic bully tactic, trying to make you think you’re difficult when their behaviour is outrageous. Grr!
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Haha. I’m glad I’m the way I am (sensitive to other people’s feelings) as opposed to relying on bullying, condescension and other flawed traits.
I love the BULLSHIT thing. I know my daughter will appreciate that, as well as appealing to her sense of humour. I’ve never properly suffered from anxiety (all 3 of mine have it in varying degrees) but I was clinically depressed for years. It’s HARD to overcome your own feelings about yourself without having the anxiety of what OTHERS think of you too. My daughter’s anxiety was borne out of constant bullying at school and, (I’m ashamed to say) at home. I would do anything to make things right for her. Hopefully we can get her re-referred to a CB Therapist (we moved and can no longer go to the Dr we were with for over 20 years. Ffs!). I’m watching the Avicii thing that you wrote about. Interesting and tragic xxx
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A couple of years ago, I signed up for a three day writers conference . At the end of the first day, I sat in my hotel room when everyone else was going out to bars to socialize and I felt like a loser. I felt like an impostor , not one of the ‘real’ writers surrounding me (even though some of them were still in high school). The *only* reason I didn’t drive home right then is because we made (for us) a huge financial commitment for me to be there, and I could face my wife and kids knowing I wasted their money. I think this impostor thing happens to a lot of us introverts. Don’t let it shake you off course. And maybe next time sign up for a really expensive conference that you can’t bring yourself to bail on.
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This is good advice! 👍👍👍👍