The problem with achievement

30 Aug

7:18 pm

I know I should (want to) be posting more often, but with titles like “Sigh” (yes, there’s a draft post in my list titled “Sigh”) I haven’t been able to hit send on any of my drafts, as it were.

Lately, I have to admit, I’m starting to feel like the only one who’s not really having fun at the (sober) party. I’ve also been thinking about drinking again. You know, when I get to 180 days. I’m not jones’ing for a drink, but I can’t help but wonder, Would I feel more like myself again if I inserted that habit back into my life? Would it help to orient me? More importantly, could it help boost my motivation back to some level of normalcy?

I don’t want to say that life sucks right now. For the most part, all is well, and I’m glad for all the things that I get to have by being sober: a clear head, no hangovers, never doing or saying anything destructive. OK, I got it. Good. Thank you.

What isn’t good is my lingering lack of…oomph. I just don’t feel excited about anything. Not the way I used to. The fire feels out, and I don’t know how to re-light it!

It’s hard to explain. It’s not that I don’t have work or hobbies, it’s just that I don’t really *feel* like doing any of them. The way I used to. I don’t feel any sense of achievement after doing almost everything, honestly. Yeah, yeah, it’s done. Can I go back to staring out at the water now? Maybe I don’t have the “huge” sense of accomplishment I once had because I was always hung over, and doing anything with a hangover seems like a Herculean feat. Back then, brushing my teeth felt like I climbed a mountain. And, getting through my work day? Well, I might as well have flown (with my own wings) to the moon. Now, everything I used to do just makes me feel sort of impatient and empty–is this it?

I realize that I used drinking to fill the void of not knowing how to spend my free time. I became reliant on using it when I’d feel that pull I just mentioned, feeling burnt out and “been there-done that.” However, as I was thinking about what to write for today’s post (which included a lot of procrastinating), I realized something: my addiction goes beyond the using of wine. My “core” addiction centers around not knowing how to spend my my time, period, without having something to achieve or accomplish. Which stems from an addiction to achievement.

Whenever I think and believe I haven’t accomplished much, I feel depressed. I feel sad. I feel frustrated. And, I want to drink. Wanted. Want. I want to make those feelings go away, to escape from those thoughts. I can’t just “be.” I need–and that’s the key word–to always be doing something “exciting” or “new.” I need–key word–to always be having something, or acquiring something, and in this scenario, that something is experience. I am, in essence, addicted to getting new things–knowledge, experiences, and maybe sometimes even things, but I’m much less addicted to consuming things as I am experiences. So, I drink to both ease the pain of not getting what I want, what I have come to need; and I drink to get an artificial version of that high.

This is both enlightening and saddening. While it’s good to know that wine is not the be-all, end-all of my addiction, it’s not so good to know that now, I honestly don’t know what’s healthy and what’s not. How much do I don’t do? If I was living my “old” life right now, I’d still be at work. I’d be just as unhappy there, “doing shit,” as I am now, “not doing shit.” And there, my friends, is the essence of the conundrum: there is no solution, at least no fast one, to this so-called problem. I know plenty of people who simply solve this and other existential conundrums with a drink–give it a rest, they’d say. Don’t think too hard on it. Others work harder, have more kids, get involved in others’ lives–you know, live life. My stumbling block is that these thoughts are in my head 98 percent of the time instead of the what I maybe erroneously believe is the “normal” 2 percent.

On that note, I’m not drowning and I still have (a little) hope that I’ll start to feel more excited about doing shit soon. I have found that just continuing to set daily goals and complete them helps. Ignoring the bad thoughts and feelings helps. Going for walks, doing yoga, and running or swimming helps. I have to smirk, in an ironic, God damn it, sort of way, when I think about drinking again. Even if I DID start drinking again, I know that it would not at all help me solve this problem. Other things might, like taking a trip, getting a different job, or moving (at least temporarily). But not drinking. I know too much now. DAMN IT.

Two more weeks until my 6-month mark. Woot woot. (insert sarcastic-wink emoticon here)

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17 Responses to “The problem with achievement”

  1. carrythemessage August 30, 2013 at 8:46 pm #

    I love this post because you’re getting to something here, DDG. You know how we all speak of the things that bring us to the bottle? Fears, resentments, core issues, etc…well, here you are staring at one. And it sucks, and yet it’s illuminating, as you mention. That’s more than many of us get to. While it is hard and there are a lot of “so what”‘s and “now what”‘s, it is a great place to get to, to even go further. I am getting to a few core truths of my own and it blows, to an extent. A lot of the “truths” I held to be true for my life I am seeing are lies, or were facades. And that is hard to see and even harder to let go of, or get to. One of my core issues is that I still struggle with being “seen”. I thought that I had gotten past that, but it still smacks me in the face – another ego shot. I have also seen that I still expect things handed to me. Boom – another ego shot. I have seen that I am much more common than I think, and that I am not nearly as smart as I make myself out to be. These aren’t put downs on myself, just truths. I have more, and they have been slapping me in the face lately like a Three Stooges movie. So then what?

    That’s the question, isn’t it? You see that accomplishments and the sense of newness and the “high” of a new experience is what drives you, at the core. I get that. I sometimes think that I am much too dull and should be seeking new and breathtaking new things. But then I need to patch a hole in my wall and the garbage got attacked by raccoons and I have stuff to clean out in the basement. new and exciting…yay…lol. For me it’s not about re-igniting a fire, because I never really had one. It’s about starting something fresh. It’s like a caffeine spike – it’s fast and furious and the energy goes. Drinking fruit juice, for example, doesn’t have the jolt, but has enough energy to sustain much longer than caffeine. So in the long run, I have something a bit different than the jolt. There are jolts out there, though. We just gotta find them in our sobriety. If there weren’t good and fun times, we wouldn’t get sober. There would be no allure. But that is something we all find in our own way.

    Blessings,
    Paul

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 31, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

      Thank you, Paul! Lovely comment.

      What I’ve found is that I had forgotten why I started drinking in the first place, and then when I quit, all those things came back! I mean, it sounds so obvious, but this drinking to hide from myself the fact that I didn’t/don’t know what to do or am afraid to exercise my creativity b/c I might fail? It was staring me in the face, but drinking helped me to look away…to the point that I simply sort of forgot it was there.

      This is definitely a journey, and I know I/we can’t turn back now. Hard truths, for sure, but after learning them, it’s like, we can finally start to move forward on improving or simply being our more authentic selves.

      xx

      -DDG

  2. peepeehands August 30, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

    This feels like a point blank and almost rude question but I have to ask you.

    Do you want to start counting your days all over again?

    I have seven months next week and am THRILLED that I have so many days. I’ve lost count of days … I’m pushing to keep going forward with my numbers. Do you want to start over?

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 31, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

      Yeah, I’m not sure. I mean, no, but if I did decide to start drinking again, I would already be in a place in my mind where I am no longer sober, therefore, no longer counting or not counting.

      But, no, I don’t want to go back to the beginning of getting sober if that’s what you mean, with all the psychological crutch-type cravings, no. And, to be honest, just thinking about wasting a day–physically and mentally–hung over makes me think very cautiously about drinking again.

      • peepeehands September 1, 2013 at 10:09 pm #

        I’m glad that you weren’t offended (or didn’t seem that way) by my brash question. I teach middle school students so I have a filter on some things, but when it comes to my pals and drinking, I kinda freak when they start talking “maybe I’ll do it again.”

        The wasting a day thing is always scary, and it’s something that you have to have your mind set on. I don’t believe that we just “suddenly” have a drink in our hands after months of sobriety. I completely believe that we slide downhill slowly and then catch speed. I worry that you’re catching speed.

        Just keep talking about it … I think that helps most of us avoid the internal overthinking that happens in our brains. ❤

  3. runningfromthebooze August 31, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    I’ve had many many moments of struggling with the ordinary parts of life. I suspect that once I open myself up to the ordinary aspects of being sober things will shift. I’ve had some random moments of feeling like I’m on to something and then just as soon as I notice it, poof its gone! I have no idea what the deal is when that happens, but I like it.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 31, 2013 at 4:58 pm #

      Yeah, things do shift. It’s just those moments were always really hard for me before I quit drinking, and are what–primarily–made me want to drink. Yeah, I drank out of social anxiety and fear of intimacy and all that, but a lot of the time, I drank because I felt bored with life. And then, even worse because I couldn’t fix this boredom. And, worse still, how could I be bored with such an interesting, wonderful world around me, waiting to be discovered? Vicious cycle, I suppose.

      We do learn to embrace everything, all the normal and “abnormal” life around us because, well, there is no other option, right? We could drink, but that’s not going to change anything, most likely will make it worse, and everything will look the same (worse?) the next day!

      Hugs. You are doing awesome! xx

  4. brandyshocktreatment August 31, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    I feel ya! It is interesting how many of the issues I am facing seem to parallel yours. Because of this I feel a very strong connection when I read your blog. The struggles you face pull right at my core.

    I’ve been slacking on the blog. No entry since the festival last Saturday. I’m going to write one now. Check it out if you are interested. It’s going to cover some of the same things you have been writing about.

  5. Belle August 31, 2013 at 3:56 am #

    dear you. I am the same as you. i really like adventure and new. thankfully being self-employed, there is as much ‘new’ as i want. I’m in charge of how interesting my life is. (this is why we don’t work in offices 9 to 5 wearing nylons. the boredom. the repetition. not for us.)

    i’m not trying to figure out how to have fewer adventures. i’m still trying to figure out how to have MORE. for me it can be as simple as exploring a new part of town, or taking the train one town away and seeing what’s there. I love vacations for just this reason — not for the rest, really (though I do love an 11 hr sleep) — but for the new-ness, the ideas, the possibilities. I like new hobbies for this reason. and I love love pureed brussels sprouts for this reason:) what if i tweak it a little bit this way? can i do this with other vegetables? should i use cream or chicken broth? maybe it could be a layer in vegetarian lasagne …

    and in my job(s), the ones where i’ve been successful, they’ve all been project-based. finish this bit, start that one, get a new one, finish that one. Probably just like your writing career. “Oh look there’s an email, they have another idea for me.” If i just had to go into work and enter data, i’d stab myself in the eyes.

    Even with my catering job… since it’s my hobby-job, i’ve made sure that it’s new all the time. i change the menu every single week. i limit quantities if i’m feeling tired. i limit pick-up/delivery hours to suit my schedule (like this thursday is our anniversary so i want to be finished early). If i had to get up and make poppy seed bagels every morning, like if i was supplying a restaurant 6 dozen a day, i’d … well you know what i’d do. I’ve said no already to these types of offers. it’s not about the money. it’s about what kind of life i want to have. and i want to LIKE my life.

    there’s nothing saddening about liking newness and adventure. figuring out how to get enough in your life can be a challenge (i.e. without tossing everything in the process, though people do that – sell everything and move to europe – o wait, i did that.)

    all is well. drinking (going back into a dark place) because our lives don’t have enough adventure (today, at this moment) may feel tempting, but it’s not really a solution. it may well be a pause button (with consequences), but it’s not really an adventure 🙂 an adventure is signing up for a 10K race, or making every recipe in a cookbook, or learning a new language as a hobby. it’s cleaning out a closet or a drawer so that it feels better. it’s realizing that we’re in charge of how interesting our lives are. and then, if you’re me, i often roll over and go back to sleep and wake up with an idea for combining puff pastry with cinnamon rolls …

    sorry for the novel. happy saturday. hugs from me.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 31, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

      Belle! HUGS. Major hugs. I love how you break things down, I love how you bring out the most positive side of ME. I can hear myself in your voice, somewhere… Hmm. I think there’s something I’m trying to figure out, some heavy load I’m carrying around–it’s preventing me from this adventure of which we speak! I also think I need to “figure out” the whole freelance thing because there are some days (a LOT) where I’m just like, screw this freedom thing, please, just give me a place to be and a brain-numbing to-do list, pay me, and let’s just fucking be done with this. I hate having to be working all the time (10% actually work, 90% looking for work). So…I’m not sure if freelancing is for me. It’s all sort of confusing. And, if affects everything else in my life; if my work didn’t go well, or if I’m worrying about where my rent is coming from next month, everything seems bad, against me, like more work than fun.

      Yes, we are in charge. I need to free up some space in a drawer, metaphorically speaking. Maybe I’ll do that today! 🙂 Happy Saturday to you! xxx

    • soberjournalist September 3, 2013 at 2:57 am #

      “A pause button with consequences” – I love that description of drinking. So accurate.

  6. karenperrycreates August 31, 2013 at 9:22 am #

    I’m a numbaholic and alcohol happens to be my numbing agent of choice. For me, it’s almost easier to sit through anxiety or sadness than “blah”, probably because I get high on the low. It’s always been my comfort zone. Blah may not be exciting but it’s still a feeling we can learn from. I sometimes don’t know what’s healthy and what’s not either but as I let myself be exposed to a full range of feelings (even blah) it gets easier. What you’re going through is part of the process!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 31, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

      HUGS. Thanks for this. I needed to hear that this is, in fact, part of some process! 🙂

  7. furtheron August 31, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    This comes and goes in recovery – that is my experience. At the moment like you I’m in a low point a “what’s the bloody point” mood. I don’t like it, it is too much like when I used to drink, not that I’m wanting to drink but it reminds like you say that drinking would fill that void, firstly with just taking up the time and secondly it fuelled different thoughts etc.

    At the rehab I went to firstly they believed any addiction was simply the coping mechanism/medicine that we used to numb this kind of depression – essentially their position being all addicts have depressive negative thought processes. One of the tenants of the 12 step programme is to help others and this will stop the “retrogressive grove”.

    This too shall pass – as I’m told and have told others. I’m in transit from full time work to part time work to new course with a view to career/work change if that works out but I’m at the very start of that and I’m in transition emotionally too from parent of “kids” to parent of “adults” – all these things play a part in the toll on your emotional wellbeing.

    Focus on your 180 days sober – the rest will follow – and it will go at some point in the future but that is life, being sober doesn’t make you immune to life. It does change how you cope and handle it and how you decide to shape it long term but time takes time. Many oldtimers advise not to make major decisions in the first year – I reckon the first decade isn’t a bad idea at times… 😉

    • Drunky Drunk Girl August 31, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

      What a great comment! THANK YOU. What I needed to hear, on so many levels. Yeah…I made a lot of changes this year (move, full-time to freelance, relationship, etc.)–and, it’s all starting to confuse me, too many variables. I keep wondering, maybe I’m just too type A for a freelance career? Maybe I’m simply missing my “single girl” days in the sense that, it was familiar and I need something, one thing at least, familiar right now to sort of ground me and make the variables that matter only to this “sober thing” stand out more? In any case, I am taking your advice to heart: just get to the 180 day-mark and pray that this “what’s the bloody point” mood (LOVE this) passes!

  8. carrieonsober September 1, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

    Hey DDG, I hope you hang on in there as we are due to hit our six months at almost the same time!!
    I miss the fire in my belly, chaos, poker up the arse, way that being hungover and guilty all time time used to spur me into to trying to overachieve elsewhere to cover up.
    I also don’t feel like I achieve a whole lot more in being sober, no huge career improvements, no big weight loss, no more free time. I seem to be drowning in recovery sometimes and it’s all consuming.
    But, I do know that in my head, I feel freer than I have felt for years and I need to learn to stop and just enjoy that. I need to not be impatiently chasing the buzz and just be. Oh the call of the buzz, whether it’s wine or not will always be there. Just need to figure out a positive way to spin it to our advantage…but give it time.
    Hugs xx

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