I become stressed quite often. I spin too many plates, juggle too many flaming sticks, and usually have too many irons in the fire. I’m sure it has something to do with the fact that I selfishly want to save the world, at all cost, from feeling sad, or alone, or frightened. I want to offer a hand wherever I can and as often as I can.I was taught somewhere, very early, that if you’re thinking about someone else and not of yourself, you’ll always feel grateful. That sounds awesome. I’d love to always feel grateful. It’s when I focus too much on myself and my own wants and needs that I start feeling overwhelmed and maybe even a little depressed. Sometimes though, I give until the well is dry and leave myself with too little.
Balance is a tricky little bitch.
I’ve just recently come out of a very long battle with Postpartum Depression after my third child and I am enjoying the freedom I have without the extra weight on my heart. I wake up, I feel purposeful, and I believe that that purpose can make a difference in the world.
Sometimes in the planning of “all things others” I forget about me completely, which is awful. I forgot to eat yesterday. How does that happen? I just kept planning to and never did. Then later I found myself sitting at my kitchen table wondering why I wanted to tear everyone’s face off. Boom, there it is.
As a stay-at-home mother and owner of two blogs, prioritizing is a must. The house isn’t going to clean itself, the kids are in constant need of something, and my days provide me with tons of inspiration for blogging. Unfortunately, there are not enough hours in the day and I suck at prioritizing. Inevitably at the end of each day, I find myself disappointed that I wasn’t able to start or finish something.
Some days, I feel like I could have been a better mother if I hadn’t had my nose in my blog most of the day. I try to write during naps, but lately, they’ve been sporadic and scarce. At the end of days like those, I worry that I’m a failing blogger.
Blogging has saved my life this year. It has been a fierce connection to the world when I could not bring myself to open the front door. It has provided an outlet for all of my fear, rage, and confusion during my depression and OCD. Writing has and does free me from myself, which in turn makes me a better parent. So why can’t I give myself a break and cut some slack?
I find myself tipping the scales in one direction or another every day, but struggle to find balance. I’m not even sure what that would look like right now, because I’m nowhere near it. The pressure I put on myself is horrific. If you told me tomorrow you had these expectations of yourself, I would tell you to slow down and breathe. I would tell you that you’re doing the best you can with the tools you have and to be kind to you. It is unclear why I can hear those words flow out of my own mouth and not embrace them
So what can I do?
I can ask for help, and sometimes I do. The world has opened up to me since I got sober and I have more friends than I can count. Some of these friends are drinkers, however, and I don’t always appreciate the response I get if I let it sneak out that I’m struggling.
“Just have a glass of wine! Wine solves everything!”
I beg to differ.
Wine does not solve alcoholism.
Please don’t get me wrong; I know that it’s not your responsibility to remember I don’t drink. It’s not like I’m talking about it all the time or wearing t-shirt that says “Raging Alcoholic.” It doesn’t make me mad so much as it makes me wish I was “normal.”
“Normal” women have a rough day and maybe come home and unwind with a glass of wine. My mother does it sometimes and doesn’t even finish the glass. That I cannot understand. I can probably count on one hand the number of drinks I’ve left with anything but ice in them, but that’s me. I have a problem with alcohol and my mother doesn’t. I learned years back that I am allergic to alcohol. It affects my body in ways that “normal” drinkers don’t experience.
Do I wish I could have a drink sometimes? Fuck yes! It has been many years since I’ve had a drink and I still remember that feeling of instant relief. Unfortunately, for me and those I drink with, it doesn’t take long for relief to turn into a feeling of “fuck it,” and that’s what keeps me sober today. I’m not willing to go to that place anymore because it no longer fits with my life. I have too many wonderful things going on and “fuck it” is not an option.
I’ll be honest though, sometimes I do wish you’d remember my recovery. Mostly, because it’s been a difficult road, and as a friend, I want you to rejoice with me. I understand it’s not necessarily as important to you as it is to me because you’ve only known me sober. When you say things like, “I’d love to get drunk with you. You’re probably a really fun drunk friend,” it’s not always awesome to hear. I mean, it’s true. I am a really funny, charming drunk friend—for at least the first twenty minutes. I’m not so much fun the next day when you’re off to work and I’m still sleeping on your sofa.
I know none of these things are said with malicious intent.
I’m aware that my sobriety is not national news or even the most important thing about me. I suppose the longer I’ve stayed sober, the less I talk about. Because of the work I’ve done on myself, a drink is not the first thing I think about when I’m stressed out or upset. If you knew me drinking, you’ll know what a miracle that is.
Stress sucks and the struggle to find balance is an everyday event, but a glass of wine will only make it worse. I know that today. It doesn’t stop me from being a little jealous. You can still have that glass after a tough day, and I have to pray or sit in some awkward yoga pose instead.
So, the next time I let it sneak out that I’m struggling, how about you suggest a tub of ice cream or a massage?
Those two things have never gotten me in trouble.
This post originally appeared on Sober Mommies on June 11, 2013.