Out of all the unhealthy (I originally used the word negative – but thanks to e.nice decided to change that mindset – thanks E!) coping mechanisms I’ve used in my lifetime, there are two left that I struggle with regularly: disordered eating and alcohol.
Before I go further – a disclaimer – I use the term ‘unhealthy’ coping mechanisms with recognition that they served me well and assisted me in my survival and have simply become maladaptive for me. That does not mean I think they are wrong or bad for anyone else. In fact, I have learned to see them as not wrong at all, but simply a life raft that I am carrying on dry land now. I needed them when I was stuck in the ocean, or else I would have drowned. I in no way intend to reflect my definition of what is ‘unhealthy’ onto everyone else as we all are just doing our best to survive this messy world we live in.
I’ve got alcohol somewhat under control. I’ve gone through periods of being sober and now fiancé and I have an agreement where he tells me if he notices it getting excessive or negative. I work in marketing where alcohol is basically a part of every meeting, but I try not to drink at home and I’ve learned definitely do not drink if sad and alone.
My Mom, by all definitions, is an alcoholic. A functioning alcoholic, but an alcoholic nonetheless. I’m feeling guilty writing that because I am conditioned that to love someone means never saying anything bad about them or questioning their actions ever but it’s true. I’m also afraid she will stumble on to this blog and find it, or my Dad will, and I will be cast out of my family even though Lu (my bestie) is the only real life person I know with this link. Regardless, alcohol was modelled as a solution from day 1 so no real surprise there that I adopted it the second I turned 19.
Additionally when I go home I’m essentially drunk the whole time. My Mom is a lot easier to handle while drunk. Especially if she is drunk. If she’s drunk and I’m sober, it’s the worst. If we are both drunk, then it doesn’t seem as bad.
I live 4000 miles away from them – my alcohol coping is good here, great, actually. But once I step foot on land there, watch out old behaviours.
I tried to bring it up with my Dad once, my Mom’s drinking and how it affected us and he was like “yes but she’s an adult” and “she can do what she wants” and “she’s been through so much”. But I’m sorry (I’m apologizing for judging her behaviour, anybody else catch that?) nobody should drink a bottle plus of wine a night. And when I ask her when the last time she didn’t drink was, she can’t tell me. I’m willing to bet it’s over 5+ years ago.
And when my fiancé is upset with me for my alcohol consumption at times I remember I wish that my Dad was like that with my Mom and I really try to listen to him.
So I have ground rules around alcohol. It’s under control when I am in my home, I enjoy it, I’m not afraid to stop if I have a hard time. I know that I can, I’ve stopped before. It’s a loud coping mechanism. It’s the Hulk of my coping mechanisms.
My disordered eating however is not. It’s sinister and quiet. It slinks back into my life when I’m not noticing and then all of a sudden I don’t eat for 24+ hours a time. I have to look at a clock for cues about when I should be fuelling my body. But I’m just not hungry.
And that’s where I am right now. I am just not hungry. It’s not a good thing and I’m managing to get at least one full meal in a day but I know it’s a sign of my impending trip home. When I feel like something is about to be out of my control my disordered eating habits slip back in and it’s because I need control.
Anyone else have go to coping mechanisms they don’t completely understand? I know that they served a purpose once (along with other, more damaging ways of dealing with pain), and I honour that, but it doesn’t mean it’s not a struggle.