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.
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.
Rose 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.