Day 21 Alcohol Free: The Illusion of Okayishness

Today is my three-week “soberversary”. I woke up tired, but not hungover!

I biked the 8 miles to work in the cool, Midwestern summer morning, my legs strong and my concentration focused on the road in front of me. I felt good. I broke a decent sweat riding in and my energy was up, even before I grabbed a cup of cold press from the Dunn Bro’s across the street from my office.

But, alas, something was still bothering me.

Last night, I became frustrated with my boyfriend when a small miscommunication happened. I felt, at the time, that I was voicing my frustration reasonably, but when I showed it to one of my good friends for her opinion today, she said, “yeah, you were being kind of passive aggressive.”

Ugh. I thought I was doing okay. 

So, after not hearing from the boyfriend for most of the day, around 1, I sent him a message to apologize.

Me:

Hey. Sorry for being reactive last night. I know you didn’t intentionally not tell me that you were staying out last night, but I felt frustrated in the moment because I’d been waiting up for a while not knowing. It would really mean a lot to me if we could work together to bridge some of the communication gaps.

Him:

It’s okay. I don’t know what to do in the future in that kind of instance.

Me:

Just… checking in with me would be nice. Even just to say hi. Even if you’ve forgotten to tell me you’ll be out, or whatever the case is, it’s just nice to hear from you.

Him:

But I didn’t “forget” to tell you, I was under the impression I had.

Me:

I know, I understand, that’s not the point I’m trying to make right now.

Him:

So we’re not talking about last night?

 

Sigh. You get the picture. This went on for a few more messages, a clear misunderstanding from both sides about the other’s perspective.

 

Despite regarding myself as a fairly good, well-rounded communicator, I kinda suck at it when it comes to matters of the heart. I choke up and compromise on my needs and desires in an effort to keep things good, happy and okay. I downplay my concerns as nothing, then get upset and resentful later when I feel like I’m not being heard. I try and try to not be a burden with my emotions, holding up a facade that shows everyone I’m fine, I can do this shit on my own.

But I’m learning quickly, through sobriety, that I can’t.

I can’t keep compromising my needs to make things easier for everyone else.

I can’t keep trying to make everything okay and good and happy when it’s not.

I can’t swallow down my sad, frustrated, or angry thoughts and allow them to fester inside.

I can’t do this on my own – I’m not always okay, and THAT’S OKAY.

With every drop not consumed, the feeling I need to maintain an illusion of okayishness slowly dissolves.

The truth is this:

  • I have problems with alcohol, and so I’m not drinking anymore. Not many people are aware of this. I feel awkward talking about it.
  • I have been mildly depressed for several years – it’s a low-voltage undercurrent that slowly but surely undercuts many of my experiences. My boyfriend is not aware of this.
  • I have the same level of mild anxiety, which has accompanied the aforementioned depression. Another low-voltage undercurrent in my life, very likely a symptom of years of dumping alcohol down my throat. My boyfriend is also not aware of this.
  • I am lonely. This is becoming more and more clear to me every single day. I can’t blame anyone else for this except myself, because I’m the only one in charge of how, when, and how frequently I make the effort to see people and actually connect with them. That doesn’t mean it’s not hard sometimes. My boyfriend is vaguely aware of this, but probably not to the full extent of the problem.
  • I cover these things up by keeping myself very, very busy, with a big stupid grin on my face. I used to add alcohol in the mix of all that, too, which just complicated things. But now it’s just me, dealing with it on my own. And that’s scary.

The biggest thing of all, though, is being tired of feeling like it’s not okay to not be okay. You know what I mean? Like, I want to just break down and tell my boyfriend, my few close friends, and my parents everything, but I hold back in order to maintain that illusion of okayishness.

No, no, it’s fine, I was just being moody, everything’s good. 

But no, wait.

It’s actually not. 

And damnit – that’s just not okay.

4 thoughts on “Day 21 Alcohol Free: The Illusion of Okayishness

  1. damien says:

    It sounds like you’re struggling with “coming out” about stopping drinking to those who are close to you. I can relate. It’s scary. I couldn’t predict how they might react. I did it in steps. I told some really close friends up front. Next my family. But I held back with my Mom because I knew she had an opinion about my 12-step program. It took me a while to tell her. And when I did, I was immediately relieved. And thankfully she kept her thoughts to herself and only offered support.

    One of the things that I’ve found is that stopping drinking wasn’t enough. I had to get honest with myself and with others. I had to talk openly with them, often face to face, to get better. It was hard, but gradually things got better. That didn’t mean broadcasting all my struggles to the entire world, just sharing what’s going on with people who I am close with in an intimate and personal way.

    Sometimes it’s still difficult to do this, but usually things these conversations go way better than I expected them to.

    I hope these thoughts are helpful to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • okayishness blog says:

      Thanks, Damien. I definitely am struggling with the “how, when, and where?” aspect of being more open with people in my life about my alcohol problem. I’ve talked a little more in-depth with my boyfriend, and I’ve at least told my parents that I am taking a break for an extended period of time, but the thought of “outing” myself is terrifying because from the outside, it seems like people see me as a very well-put-together person. It’s scary to think about breaking open that illusion and showing people that I’ve got a real issue to deal with. I know the people who matter will be supportive and kind, but it’s still a scary thought.
      Anyway, I appreciated your comment. Thanks so much for your support 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • damien says:

        I completely understand how scary it is. I kept up external appearances so well that no one knew how bad things were for me. You’re right, most people will be completely supportive of you. All that said, don’t rush yourself. Don’t put pressure on yourself. When you’re ready to share it with people you’ll know it. And if you don’t ever feel ready, that’s okay too. Most likely, people will start to notice the positive changes that come about in your life and your personality even if you never tell them. And that will lead to more solid relationships and a happier life for you.

        I wish you the best. I’m glad we’re on this journey together and have this platform to share and encourage each other.

        Liked by 1 person

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