Friday, March 23, 2012

Disappointment and Risk

So, one of the things about being sober is learning how to live with emotions. When I began on this path, I suspected that anxiety would be the hardest for me to overcome. I've had some form of anxiety or another for most of my life, usually it's "social anxiety", I get nervous and often try to avoid social situations. There's a picture of me when I must have been 4 or 5 years old, dressed in a Superman costume, huddled in my dad's lap at a school's halowe'en party. I remember that party because I was too scared to go and play with any of the kids. My mom still has that picture, and it's kind of hillarious: superman, huddled and frightened and needing his dad.

And don't get me wrong: dealing with my anxiety sober has been challenging, but it isn't the hardest, and I found that out last night.

I think I've mentioned that I'm leaving my job. There are a few reasons that I won't go into just now (but, hey, if you happen to be in a leadership position, maybe take some time today to acknowledge the hard work that your subordinates are doing for you), but I don't have anything concrete lined up, so for the first time in 6 years I will be unemployed.

Yesterday I found out that a job I wanted went to someone else, and that crushed me. It's the first time I've been disappointed since quitting drinking, and so the need to drink came at me as a surprise. And it's because this is what I've always done when things didn't turn out okay: I would make a bee-line to the nearest liquor store, load up, go home and binge and watch movies until I passed out. I don't have much practice being disappointed and sober.

So instead I went home, told the bf that I didn't get the job, and that I needed him to hug me, tell me it was okay, and that I could deal with this without drinking. By the time I asked him to say all that, I knew I wasn't going to drink, but I needed to hear someone else tell me, just to feel a little bit better.

So, it's the next day, and the disappointment is fading. I'm burying it under loads of "sour grapes" reasoning: the commute would have been too far, right? And it was more of a lateral move. I wouldn't have liked some of the people. Blah blah blah. I'm still disappointed, but there are other emotions moving in. Fear and uncertainty about my future, but also hope and determination. I'm stronger now than I've been in a long time, I have every reason to believe I'll land on my feet.

And next time when I have to handle being disappointed and I know I can't drink, I'll have at least had some practice.


  1. It is inspiring reading about your way of handling the disappointment, it is something that I need to hear (read) often. That the negative emotions CAN be handled without alcohol - to instead, like you did, to turn to our loved ones.

    I'm glad to have found your blog, will read up on it - it looks very interesting :)

    1. Thanks. I'm still learning how to do this, but what I think is the key is reminding myself that emotions are temporary, and that we can snap out of things all on our own if we can just endure them for a while.

      Another thing that helps for me (it probably wouldn't work for everybody) is that I'm trying to enjoy these moments as new experiences. The fact is, I DON'T know what it's like to go through tremendous loss or hardship without resorting to drinking, and it's that big unknown that is probably the scariest. It's like being an explorer of my own psyche...yeah, there are jungles and vines and wild creatures, but there's the excitement of discovery, of learning something about myself.

      "Oh, so THIS is how I react to stress! THIS is what I'm like when I'm sad or frightened!"

      Some things I'm stronger than I thought I was and other things where I thought I was old reliable, I actually need some help. But it's better to KNOW than to live in the dark.