Friday, July 8, 2011

Alcoholic thinking ... AGAIN

I'm going through a serious bout of alcoholic thinking today, so it seemed a good time to check in. Mimi and I are in Florida visiting my family for a month, which is simultaneously the most pleasant and the most stressful of endeavors.

A year ago, I was unemployed and deeply in debt. At that point I'd been sober just a year, but crossing a year was major: no longer did every "a year ago..." end in something horrid. Things were looking up, despite the unemployed and deeply in debt part.

What bothered me the most about that was that I'd continued some of those habits into sobriety -- I was still spendy even though I was in debt, and I had turned in one of my worst semesters teaching just that past spring, when you would have thought I'd be joyously riding my pink cloud, clearheaded and competent. I'd lost all sense of what it felt like to do a good job.

I was picked up by an online university, my first job! I was determined to find it interesting (I did) and to do a stellar job (I didn't). I did an okay job. It took an insane amount of time to keep up with it, and much of that time was spent on tasks I found mundane and silly -- a recipe for disaster for me. I've now taught a few of their terms, and while I've improved -- getting various templates down helped a lot -- I'm still not anywhere near where I once would have been.

So the other day I opened my spring evals and they were exactly as I'd expected:  nearly every comment was "great feedback on the assignments but not enough participation in discussion boards." Again I resolved to do better next term. Then I noticed that my summer class was not listed. It had had only 14 students enrolled so it's certainly reasonable to assume that it didn't have a high enough enrollment and that's why it wasn't listed.

It's equally reasonable to assume that my evaluation scores were too low and I'm not going to be asked back.

I sat a moment debating what I should do, and decided to write my department chair an email saying the course wasn't open. This had happened once before, and it turned out she'd simply forgotten to unlock it, so it was reasonable to assume this was what had happened.

But who ever said an alcoholic was reasonable?

Ah, failure. It's so familiar, and so damned welcoming. As an alcoholic, I don't need much cause to feel miserable. I catastrophize like no one's business.

As soon as I pressed send, I started to tremble and shake. I got up and walked around, trying to shed the feeling. You know it, don't you? Sweaty palms, swirly stomach, slight detachment from everyone around you. It sucks.

I decided to write about this because of that feeling. It's the feeling I used to carry around all the time, sometimes justified and sometimes not, and it's that exact feeling that I dampened with all number of substances. 

I suppose it doesn't really matter if I deserve to be fired or even if I was fired; I suppose what matters is that I learn to deal with that feeling because it's not going anywhere. I can hope to have it less (and hey, it's been many months since I last felt it, so that's progress!) but I can't hope to never have it, and I can't use over it anymore either.

So here I am. I'm petrified to open my email in case her  reply verifies my fear that I'm not welcome back. I don't like that job, but I need some job. And ... that feeling. it's always Right There.

Perhaps I can just look and see if I'm assigned to anything; that would answer my question. That, too, is alcoholic thinking, isn't it? Peek around the corner then run as fast as I can and never look back? 

I also know that the healthy thing is to accept the criticism of my work for what it is, and not view it as a character assessment. If I did a bad job they have a right to turn to someone else who might do a better job. It just hurts that they would say that first. 

I have convinced myself to check my email. I might as well get this over with. I know I'll feel terrible if I am indeed fired, so what will I do to feel better? Go to a meeting. Talk to my family. Enjoy my little daughter this afternoon.

And probably write about it here.

Thanks for being here.


  1. i am only just into my second year of sobriety and the first year, while at the beginning was very 'pink cloud' also saw me really depressed and adrift. i found myself living a life that no longer was a very good fit for me and i had a massive amount of re-adjusting to do.

    maybe it would help if you were to reflect on how far you have come and how much you have had to re-learn and cut yourself a bit of slack. we have quite a journey on our hands here! for me the giving up the drinking was the easy bit- learning to live life without the anasthetic is the hard bit!

  2. so happy to see you here. i am always struck by your honesty. your words move me to a smile or to tears. relate so much to the alcoholic thinking. the irritable, restless and discontented bit i heard at meetings hit too close to home. i couldn't relate to the hopelessness or desperation but i could and can relate to the funky thinking and perception. the peculiar mental twist that lead me to have a glass of wine on a day i swore i wouldn't have any. please keep writing.

  3. OH, how I understand how you feel. It's like we share a brain... seriously.

    I am glad you came here to talk about it. You know I'm there to listen anytime.



  4. I can completely relate to this post. I often hit points where I am petrified to check email, fearing the worst is about to happen and can really relate to the panicky, unsettled feelings you describe. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Wow! You took me back to the way I drank when my kids (4 of them) were small. It is was much work to drink that way. I have almost 10 years of sobriety if I don't drink today. I don't say this to impress anyone. I lost my marriage and the respect of my children who were ages 10-20 yrs old when my drinking spiraled down and down and down. My children now ages 29-38 can trust me now. But my God this journey has been hard. I've stopped seeking most things and thus find I am given joy and peace when I least expect it. One of my mantras is "I am so grateful to wake up without a hangover"! I am grateful for your post, Courageous Woman!

  6. This general anxiety is what I am experiencing at the moment - I call it a GOAL VOID and it is simply getting used to being full on sober all the time. Which is certainly different from the roller coaster highs and lows of getting drunk, recovery and getting drunk again.
    Facing your fear is the best thing to do, just break through and run at it.

  7. Catastrophizing, waiting for the other shoe to drop, also, the manner in which you explained your anxiety when the course you were going to teach was lock-out. All great stuff!! I live it every day. I think that there are 3 steps in particular that help us with this malady of the mind. Step 3, God. Live in God's will. I do not know all of what God is but, I do know a lot of what God is not. God's will is not that humans be incapacitated by negative emotions. Step 10, do the inventory each day and be sure to work our inventories with people who have been sober for many years and are really happy. Be careful walking around in your own mind - it is a very dangerous neighborhood. Step 12, help another alcoholic, get out of self and in to service. This is a hard step for me. I easily isolate and hide in my alcoholic thinking... brooding upon disasters and other imaginary events.

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