Beer in One Hand, Panic Button in the Other

I’m going to put some ugly stuff on here tonight because it’s still fresh and sometimes I think I make my recovery look too pretty. It’s not. Just so you know. But it’s mine.

Recovery can be such a roller coaster. Even as I approach 600 days (sometimes I have to count – just to maintain my focus), there are times when I feel like I’m hanging on by a thread.

Just over two weeks ago, I reflected on a tough week. Compared it to where I’d have been three years ago. And, I delighted in not even wanting a drink.

Earlier this week, even though I was celebrating victory, I was also craving poison. Though I was doing a little fist pump and waving my jazz hands, I thought perhaps I’d rather be numb. My husband had just returned from a business trip. I honestly don’t know how single parents do it. Truly. I lean on my husband so much and don’t know how I would survive without him long term. He was only gone for two days, but it might as well have been a year. During that time I felt like I had five kids, not two. And, I dealt with more crap being flung at me by more people (and a bear!) than I have in a long time. God bless those of you who do this every day. I couldn’t. It made me want to drink.

Today, the roller coaster plunged deeper than it has in a very long time. Maybe ever. No one died. No one is sick. (Well, that’s not entirely true. I’ve been sick. My colitis – I’ve battled it for over 20 years and it has been in remission without medication for several years – has been flaring up since May and I finally have a colonoscopy scheduled in a few weeks to find out what’s going on. That always makes me super anxious. And, on top of it, I am on medication to get back into remission. I hate taking pills. Even Tylenol.) While I’ve spent the past two months riding the wave of taking care of everyone else and then white knuckling it through the start of the kids’ school year and brand new schedules, the perfect storm slowly brewed and strengthened. Today it made landfall.

I’m not special. I don’t expect some kind of get out of jail free card because I’m an addict in recovery. I have no problem facing the same challenges as everyone else. And, I know mine pale in comparison to others. I am not fragile. Nor am I broken. I just lost myself. The past several weeks, I kept thinking I’d have time for rediscovery. Yet, week after week, time was suddenly up and I’d neither crossed enough off my to do list nor come up for air. Bad combo.

I don’t cry. Not much anyway. But, right now I cant stop. The release began around noon today when my son presented me with a challenge. I was in the office and he knew I shouldn’t be interrupted, but he also wanted to finish his homework and he needed my help making his new Chromebook talk to my printer. It’s Google. So of course it’s more complicated than it needs to be. As we walked through the steps together my son grew inpatient. He got very twitchy and started to freak out. He acted as if we were dealing with a crisis as opposed to a basic IT challenge – which I can always find a way to fix. I reminded him I can do anything as long as we’re patient – explaining that this type of thing is typically a maze with more than one right way out, but we’d surely hit some walls along the way. He didn’t want to hear it and continued his outburst.

I fed right off his emotions as if I had no choice, screamed back at him, and went into my own full blown meltdown; maybe it was a break down. “I need a drink,” I heard myself say, and I walked out of the room and into the kitchen. I opened the fridge. I held a bottle of beer in my hand and started hyperventilating. I crumbled to the floor and sobbed. Louder and louder as my breath returned. And then I began vomiting.

I don’t know whether or not I let this episode run its course. I may have turned off my feelings too soon by pushing myself to walk back into the office and calmly regroup with my son and get the printer connected.

I have a lot to learn about emotions and how to work through them. I’m still very good at ignoring them, even if I’m not drowning them in booze.

But now, as I write this, I am in a hot bath filled with rose scented bubbles. I have my wine glass full of passion tea ice cubes and lemon sparking water. I can stop crying for a moment. And write. And then I start bawling again. I can feel my blood pressure coming down, so that’s good.

Today was my day to devour a couple of big projects on my plate. So maybe I could begin next week with some semblance of order and a chance of finding that even keel again. But, tonight, the projects have been chewed up and spit out. Again. Nothing is finished. And, I am fried.

I don’t know what would’ve happened if I opened that beer. I do know I have never experienced such a purely emotional and physical reaction to stress before in my life. I may have dramatized things in the past. Who are we kidding? I absolutely did. But what happened today was real. So real it was frightening. And, I couldn’t make it stop. I can still feel it in my neck.

Kids shouldn’t see their parents like that. And, I feel so rotten about it. My son and I have talked. Calmly. We’re alright. But, the guilt is still jabbing at my gut.

I was just invited to watch a family member in a sporting competition in the morning. I want to go. But I’ve said yes to everything for everyone else the last several weeks without taking one split second to consider how it would impact me. My once powerful “because I can” attitude has bitten me in the ass. And it hurts. So much.

I can’t be everything to everyone all the time. I need to be someone to me, too. Shame on me for forgetting that.


Also published on Medium.

3 comments

  1. I applaud you for telling your story so openly and honestly. You weathered the storm, woman. Doesn’t mean there won’t be others down the line, but you did it. Hang in there. Do the best you can do each day. Progress, not perfection. Set aside enough “you” time for replenishment. You already know all this, but still… hang in.

  2. Oh man. You know all the answers, of course. But knowing and doing are two different things. Glad you made it through. Big hugs. ( And ZERO need for shame! We’ll all human – thanks for sharing this and reminding us!) Love, Jackie.

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