I haven’t posted for two weeks and the reason is that I let my stress levels get completely out of control. My situation at work became unmanageable and instead of acknowledging how I felt, I simply tried to bottle it all up and put a brave face on it. But when the cracks started to show, well everything kind of fell apart. These things can go either way for an addict, and luckily for me they turned out okay. I was given the opportunity to voice my concerns to an objective party and changes are being made which are having a positive impact on the people I work with, but I didn’t manage my personal situation well up until that point and feel like I lost some professional credibility. It’s dangerous for an addict to do this… Instead of asking for help, I tried to go it alone and the results could have been disastrous and not simply left me feeling a little sheepish. To be honest I live in a country where it is incredibly difficult to obtain alcohol, but if it had been easily obtainable I am not sure whether everything would have turned out as it did.
On top of that my home country mourned the death of an incredible leader and statesman, and it was with heavy hearts that we laid our beloved Madiba to rest today. These are difficult times to be away from your real support network and sometimes it is difficult to reach out across the oceans and ask for emotional support, because people often think since you have kicked alcohol you can cope with anything. But it’s really important as a recovering addict to know when to ask for help, because if you are anything like me, people are often confounded when I get to the point where everything starts to fall apart. I need to know that I cannot always be strong and handle every situation, because somethings, and especially peoples’ behaviour, are completely out of my control. My choices about my life and not drinking are my choices, but the decisions that others make that often directly impact my life are largely not governed by me. And that part of me that wants to be in control of every situation needs to accept that. I need to understand that while I work for a large organisation there will be systems and practices that I don’t agree with, but this drives me harder towards my goal of working for myself in the not-too-distant future.
I also need to accept that I am only responsible about how I respond to situations and can’t be accountable for the thoughts and actions of those around me. Of course I wish I could make people around me see situations purely from my point of view, without sounding like I want to manipulate everything to my liking. By accepting that there are certain things that I need to say yes to and to and others that I need to say no to, I can balance my stress levels better and remind myself that I am only truly responsible for myself. Because at the moment my stress has led to physical illness and I am bed bound and a little frustrated with myself. But honouring the fact that I am slightly irked and that my body and soul needs to be nurtured on a daily basis is another lesson that I take away from these last few weeks. It’s essential that as addicts we learn to address situations as they arise and not pretend that everything is going to be better in the morning, because that is the kind of thinking that took me into the depths of drinking and the depression that came with it. I caught a glimpse of it this last week and it really frightened me, because it has been many years since I saw that dark place in my soul.
So I’m taking the doctor’s advice and allowing myself these few days away from the office to rest my body, mind and soul and take a little time to reflect on how important it is to take care of all parts of me because even though I am less than a month away from six years of sobriety, there are days when I feel like I am still in the early stages of recovery. It’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help, but rather a sign of strength.
‘Til next time