Setbacks are not finish lines

It’s been a week of what felt like setbacks. Until seeing A and then N, I was not dealing well on my own… or at least it felt that way. And in line with that thinking the critical voice took over and had a field day. 

Telling me things like “You have once again failed at therapy. You pay all this money and can’t maintain progress. You should be better than this. You can’t even cope on your own.” And on and on and on. 

This is a really stressful time, this month. And I knew that. I didn’t expect to be caught off guard by last weekend and the shame spiral that accompanied it. I also didn’t expect to be fighting so much with my husband.

We are both stressed and overwhelmed and getting on each other’s nerves and we are safe people for each other – safe people to fight with, to be real with. And that’s wonderful until we are both needing each other at the same time.

Today for example we have fought or argued about the most ridiculous things. We have also not had arguments about what I feel are legitimate things – like the empty cans and bottles he found in my closet from the drinking I’ve been hiding from him… 

It hurt so much to see him so defeated by that. Like he thought that was behind us. And he didn’t even try to get angry. He was just done… and the fact that he seems to have given up on that changing is so hurtful and is a clear sign that I have to change. He is angry and grumpy and snapping with me and I know it’s as a result of that. And honestly, can I blame him?

The good news there is as of right now I haven’t had a drink since 5:30pm Friday. And a part of me is glad he found the empty bottles I had stored in the closet. 

But I digress.

I had been feeling really really crappy about this week. The critical voice has been running everything. Yoga yesterday really helped to the point where (before he found the empties) my husband said “can you go Yoga every day?” 

Thankfully amidst our fighting he left to go to the grocery store. Normally we go together but today I didn’t want to be with him. And my immediate instinct was to drink. He would be gone for over an hour. There is an emergency cider stash in my closet. There was one left. 

I sat on my couch. And I thought about this. I thought about how I have recently learned that the urge to drink like that comes when I am overwhelmed. When the emotion, whatever it is, is too much for me to process. 

So I didn’t try to figure out the emotion. I reminded myself the goal is to notice it and acknowledge it and interrupt this process – I’m not able to identify it and that is okay. I said out loud to my empty condo “I am feeling something. Something I don’t want to feel, and I perceive it to be negative and overwhelming, so I want to drink.”

I thought about all the things that would happen if I chose a drink. If my husband caught me or worse (both are bad) found the empty. How our relationship, the most important one to me in the world, is already strained by my drinking and how he is the recipient of the most collateral damage from my childhood. When I drink like that, I am choosing to hurt him. Not purposefully – but that’s the result. That’s entirely in my control. Yes, I would feel better, temporarily. But I have learned with A that disassociating or separating from my emotions does more harm than good. 

And then I thought about little me, the girl on the stairs. How when I drink, it’s effectively me telling her that she doesn’t matter, and that I don’t want to hear what she has to say. That I don’t care about her. And those are messages she has received her whole life… the messages that got us here in the first place. It sucks but I am the only one who can change that messaging and not reinforce it.

But I knew I needed to do something. So I took a few of those calming ocean breaths that N taught me because I was starting to disassociate and hyperventilate, and I came up with the least destructive thing I could think of that would give me some release and not dismiss the emotions or disconnect me from them.

I worked out. 

For the first time in like 8 months other than the one random week of swimming I did and the frisbee I play, I intentionally worked out. In my living room, with Shaun T and Insanity Max 30. And it wasn’t pretty. As much as I don’t think I’m fat, per se, I am out of shape. But I tried not to think about the body shame. I tried to focus on the energy I was letting out. 

I tried to focus on the fact I was making a positive choice for me. And that even if I only got part way through it, I had still made the choice to exercise instead of drinking. And in the middle of the DVD Shaun said “Plateaus are not finish lines.” And I liked that, so I adapted it to “Setbacks are not finish lines.”

The hard part isn’t over. It’s hardly begun. There may never be a finish line. But I know that today I made a choice that got me a high five from my husband, and that helped me be less overwhelmed. A choice that has the little girl on the stairs laughing instead of crying. 

And dammit, I’m proud of myself. 


10 thoughts on “Setbacks are not finish lines

  1. YES! I’m proud of you too! You made such a great choice! And I like that, setbacks aren’t finish lines. They’re lessons.
    For me, working out became my first “healthy coping mechanism” that my best friend encouraged me to do instead of cutting. It’s stuck with me, 7 years later. I hope that this can become a go-to coping mechanism for you or that you find another one that helps in a similar way 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Damn right to be proud of yourself! Good job on working out for the first time in like 8 months. 🙂

    That self-critical voice haunts me too at times, it’s best not to listen and to distract yourself somehow. It’s so tricky.

    Wishing you well, hugs.

    Liked by 2 people

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