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.
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.
It’s okay. I don’t know what to do in the future in that kind of instance.
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.
But I didn’t “forget” to tell you, I was under the impression I had.
I know, I understand, that’s not the point I’m trying to make right now.
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.