Handling Success When You Are Not Used to It

Handling Success When You Are Not Used to It

Damien’s Note:  Today’s post is the first guest post on here on Walking in Sober Boots and comes to us from Rose Lockinger from Stodzy Internet Marketing. When Rose contacted me I was honored — no one had ever asked to be a guest writer on a blog I authored before — but I was a bit shaken and didn’t know how to respond immediately. I gave it consideration and decided that the next right thing to do was to share this platform with others so that many voices in recovery are heard.  If you’d like to have a post featured on this blog, reach out to me via the contact page and we’ll work together to make it happen. Without further ado, here are Rose’s thoughts on a pair of topics to which many of us in recovery can easily relate — self sabotage and perfectionism.

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I recently discovered something that I found quite surprising— one of the most frightening things in life is the prospect of achieving your goals. This may sound crazy because aren’t goals what we are all working towards and shouldn’t finally reaching them be a cause for celebration and not a cause for stress and fear? You would think so, but what I have found over the past year is that success and the completion of certain milestones, while they have brought me a great sense of pride, have always introduced new fears and stressors into my life.

I have found myself unsettled by my recent accomplishments and because of this I have become cognizant of the fact that I am subconsciously attempting to sabotage myself. It is almost as if I am looking to introduce chaos into the peace I have found and I can’t help but think that this is because I am not used to succeeding, so part of me is hard wired to try to destroy anything good. Something that I really relate to is that in this journey of recovery I have become focused on the destination and not the experience as a whole, in doing so I have lost any enjoyment I may have experienced.

Talking to a friend of mine about this idea he had a little bit of a different take on it, but could relate nonetheless. He said to me that succeeding requires something of us whereas failure doesn’t, and with each success that we gain there is a feeling that we now have something to lose. Many of us come into sobriety at a position of zero and there is a certain freeing feeling that comes with this because we have nowhere to go but up. The longer you stay sober and start to accomplish things, there then starts to be a fear that you are not worthy of your successes and that you do not have what it takes to keep them going.

He told me about how when he started back to college he started getting all A’s. This at first was a point of pride for him, but after 2 years of never receiving anything lower than A, this pride began to turn on him because he now had something that he had to accomplish. He felt as if he had to continue to get straight A’s and if he didn’t then he felt like his self-worth would be taken from him. The next two years of school were full of anxiety and he began to focus on perfection as the goal, which usually never turns out well. When he finally graduated with his 4.0 GPA he found that it did not bring him the feeling of elation he had hoped for, but rather just left him looking towards the next thing that had to be accomplished.

I thought about what my friend told me, and his inability to enjoy his accomplishments, and realized that to a certain degree this is what was going on with me. My goals since the beginning of my sobriety were to finally have a place of my own, the ability to see my children on a regular basis, have my family back in my life, and a job that I loved. I have all of these things in my life but yet I can’t shake the feeling that the other shoe is going to drop at some point. It is almost as if I am expecting it to happen and this is making it more difficult for me to enjoy my accomplishments.

During my active addiction, I became accustomed to letting people down. I never enjoyed it and it always hurt, but I got used to it and knew how to handle those feelings. Now I am no longer in a position where I let people down and so often I don’t know what to do with my emotions. I don’t know really know how to accept compliments and it is still a strange feeling that people trust and depend on me. Part of me really feels great that my family and children can trust me, but another part of me gets fairly stressed out by this as well. I don’t want to let them down again and so I probably put a lot of unneeded pressure on myself.

Adding to this is the fact that I am extremely hard on myself. Any little “failure” is felt to the umpteen degree and because of this I have a tendency to focus on the negative rather than the positive. Doing this usually, results in me not being able to enjoy the successes in my life to their full extent because I always could have done something better or changed this or that.

A good example of this happened about a month ago. I have been back in Virginia now for six months and everything is going well, but one thing that wasn’t going exactly as planned was my visitation schedule with my children. I thought that by this point I would have had more time with my children but this is not the case. Any mother would feel the same way as I do, but I found that this “failure” seemed to override all of the positivity that was going on me in life and like I said I began to focus on the negative rather than the positive. I couldn’t see how far I’d come, or the fact that my children were back in my life, all I could was the fact that I wasn’t able to be a full time mom again.

It is strange because I felt more comfortable being angry and upset then I did when I felt like everything was going my way. I know what to do when I have to fight for something or against someone, but I don’t know how to handle peace and serenity. Hopefully, as I stay sober longer this will change and I will begin to learn to enjoy the moments of my life, rather than look back on them and realize how good they were. Until then I am going to do my best not to destroy my successes and ignore the thoughts in my head telling me I have to.

About Rose

RoseRose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. A single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.

You can find Rose on LinkedIn, Facebook, & Instagram

A Simple Strategy for Disengaging from Social Media

A Simple Strategy for Disengaging from Social Media

On July 28th, I had one of those big blow out fights with a Facebook friend over politics.  It got ugly.  I got angry, really angry and ultimately removed that friend from my friends list. I also made an announcement that I’d be leaving Facebook for a while and that the best way to reach me would be by phone or Facebook Messenger — since like a lot of people there are “friends” on my list that I don’t actually have any contact information for and who don’t have my phone number.

I stewed over this event throughout the weekend.  The committee in my head told me all sorts of things about this person and all sorts of things about myself.  I was stressed out and not handling myself well.  I’d lost my serenity.  And I was still posting on Facebook. A friend in my 12-step group noticed and mentioned that he’d noticed — in a kind and loving way.

I don’t recall exactly when the conversation happened, but my wife suggested that perhaps, just maybe, I didn’t need to engage in Facebook.  Or on Instagram, or on twitter, or read the New York Times daily.  Her logic was that these things weren’t really adding value to my life.  In fact they were stressing me out and I was not that great to be around.

I committed to reducing my interactions with Facebook. Continue reading “A Simple Strategy for Disengaging from Social Media”

Living in Clear Text

Living in Clear Text

A little over a year ago I had become a master at hiding my reality.  I wouldn’t answer the phone after a certain point in the day.  I wouldn’t make calls before a certain point in the day.  I didn’t want to be seen by people who knew me.  I spread my liquor buying habits out among several stores.  I buried my empties deep in the recycling bin.  I hid what was really going on from the rest of the world.

Only my immediate family could see how bad things were externally, but even they didn’t know the true depths of despair that were the result of my daily drinking.  That’s because I didn’t speak about what was going on.  And when I did, I spoke in broken code and half truths. Continue reading “Living in Clear Text”

Fighting the Lizard Brain

Fighting the Lizard Brain

I’ve been very proud of myself for how things have been going with my sobriety. Maybe too proud. Sometime around 6 months in, things just seemed to click and it got easier. I no longer longed for a beer. I was quite comfortable to be around others who were enjoying a drink or two – not hanging out at booze fests mind you, just casual beers with dinner and such. It had started to feel easy.

The truth is that it’s not always easy. I genuinely love beer and not just for the alcohol. I love the taste; the malt, the hops, the bubbles, the notes of citrus or chocolate, the complexity of it all. And sometimes I really miss the culture of the craft brew scene. I know this is romanticizing  the drink, but stick with me.

I’ve been running hard for a few weeks. Three weeks of consecutive business travel and lots of demands on me for work outside the sheer number of nights in hotels or hours on the plane. I’ve needed a break. And I’ve had my sights on this weekend for a while.

We are in Lewes, DE – one of my favorite places to be. Lewes is a beach town at the mouth of the Delaware Bay, just before the bay joins the Atlantic. One if the things I like most about Lewes is that it’s a small quiet town that still has old beach cottages on the beach. Yes – relaxing with some sun, salt, and skin would be the perfect way to unwind.

Except that it isn’t.

Lewes is also home to the owner of Dogfish Head Brewing. The locals are proud of Sam; and they should be. He built a business out of nothing but his love of home brewing and a desire to live life to its fullest at the beach.

We are staying at the Dogfish Inn, which used to be a run down place called the Vesuvius Motor Lodge or something equally dreadful. It was restored a year or two ago and, when I was drinking, I was sure that I’d love staying there. And if I was drinking, I bet I would.

But I’m not drinking. And I really don’t want to be drinking.

Still, I’ve been thinking about drinking (and not drinking) since I got here. My lizard brain is fully engaged.

But I am fighting it. Throwing punches at it – reminding myself of the reasons why I quit. Reminding myself of how much better I feel. How much better I sleep. How my wife will be seen in public with me after five. How the reason she was never seen with me after five wasn’t really her but me – I wouldn’t go out because I couldn’t drink like I wanted to. How last summer she got dressed to the nines to go to dinner and I feigned exhaustion so that we didn’t have to go to dinner, and I could drink like I wanted to. What a fucking dick move that was!

Im fighting because life is worth fighting for. Because I don’t ever want to disappoint my family like I did before. Because I don’t want to die a horrible death. Because I don’t ever want to go through the first thirty days of sobriety again. Because the monster will win if I don’t fight back.

Some days it’s like this. Some days it’s a fight to the death. But thankfully most days it’s not.

This, too, shall pass. As I recently saw on Twitter, it may pass like a kidney stone, but it will pass.

Remembering the first 30 days…

Remembering the first 30 days…

When I think about the first 30 days of my sobriety today I have an overwhelming sense of relief.  I don’t ever want to go through that again.  I mean, it was incredibly difficult to simply turn it off and stop drinking daily.  But that’s what I did.  I stopped.

I remember overwhelming fatigue.  Fatigue that hit hard in the middle of the day.  Most days of that first 30, I was down for the count for a solid 1 to 2 hours in the middle of the day.  Thankfully I work form home and so I got away with it.  I don’t know how I’d have dealt with it if I were in an office or on a job site.

I remember not wanting to cook dinner. Continue reading “Remembering the first 30 days…”

Find your compassionate heart

Find your compassionate heart

When I came into recovery, I did not know how much I lacked compassion for other people. I was full of judgement. I saw others as “less than” and framed the world in nice tidy compartments. Drug addicts were bad people — it never occurred to me that alcohol is a drug. Homeless people must have done something to end up in their situation, and it was probably due to bad choices. People with less education than myself were stupid. I framed the world in terms of “otherness.”

I quickly learned that I wasn’t so different from these “other” people. My addiction to alcohol was just as debilitating as another’s addiction to heroin or cocaine. Continue reading “Find your compassionate heart”

Fourteen Days — Feeling Liberated

I wrote this three years ago today, fourteen days into a 30 day alcohol fast. The Promises were already starting to come true, but since I was still blind I did not recognize that.

It’s painful to recognize now that I had the answer so much earlier than I had the willingness to accept the facts, but I am grateful that I was able to find my way back to this path.

As I’ve often heard, there are many paths up this mountain. Going back to drinking was a wrong turn on the path. There may be more wrong turns on my part, but I find my way back to my path and I’m moving up the mountain.

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Screen Shot 2013-07-09 at 11.00.39 AM Two Weeks

Fourteen Days!

It’s been two full weeks since I made the decision to give up alcohol for 30 days. Not only that, but it’s been two full weeks since I had a drink. Yesterday, I noticed that I was not thinking about having a drink at the end of the day. This wasn’t the first time in the past two weeks where I didn’t have a strong desire for a drink after work, but it was the first time that I noticed that I didn’t have that desire. I can only describe that feeling with one word:

Liberating

I felt free. I feel free. Free to do things that I couldn’t do before.

I never drove after drinking, that was a cardinal rule. Consequently, if something came up after dinner which required getting behind the wheel it usually had to wait. Or, I’d ask Mrs. TKD to run…

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