Monday, July 25, 2016

wine vs vulnerability

it's tough to write when you have so little to say, but it's almost tougher to write when you have so much to say. in all honesty, i have been mulling over exactly what i wanted to write, because there seems to be so much. but sometimes i struggle with what is good to share and what is sacred and should be kept private (ask husband, he's always reminding me about my filter). but i need to write because it's my therapy. so forewarning this post is long. and rambling. and most likely won't wrap up with a tidy little bow.

i also feel the need to share at least some iteration of what's going on because one of the main reasons i write is to look at and truly embrace my real self. to really take a risk and put my vulnerabilities out there for myself and others to get to know. but guess what? that's much easier when the most vulnerable thing you have to say is that life is hard and you're having a tough time accepting it. unfortunately, my vulnerabilities seem a little more fragile these days. 

on the surface, the story feeding into my current struggle is relatively cliche, somewhat even of the 'garden variety' young adult angst, if you will: girl grows up questioning her worth and self-esteem; goes away to college and becomes promiscuous, drunk and super skinny (ie my alcoholic, slutty and eating disordered self arrives on the scene); goes to rehab, finds God, gets sober, starts eating, and life turns around. said girl goes to school to forge a career giving back to others the way others gave to her, she finds a sweet dude to marry, they have two adorable kiddos together, and life continues forever and ever, amen, happy as can be. the end! thanks for reading! 

except not really. 

my struggle with my eating disorder led into a super dysfunctional relationship with alcohol, and by some people's definition, i was an alcoholic. i chose to stay sober for almost 8 years during my 20's, but after i got married, i decided that i would try to drink again, and guess what? i got knocked up. (that's a real life joke, guys. you can laugh!). two pregnancies and almost four years later, i was still managing my life + alcohol relatively well. 

but then it got complicated. because this january, life basically began to fell apart. my mom was diagnosed with a super scary cancer; my husband's health deteriorated into an unknown hell-hole we have spent buckets of money and time trying to solve, and i was knee-deep in the middle of my youngest baby's super challenging infant-hood. not only all that, but life kept changing from week to week and staying busy and my other son morphed into some weird, bipolar, crazy lunatic two year old i didn't know, and i kept working and raising kids, and money kept getting tight, and we had to fire the nanny and.... everything. all the things!!

and, i started drinking a lot, and i started telling myself it was ok. i was starting to find lots of old drinking behaviors coming up. and i was around people that drank a lot that didn't have complicated relationships with alcohol. and i was surrounded by a mommy culture that's all about using coffee and wine to get through your day. but i was drinking after the kids went to bed and i was functioning every single day, up at the crack of dawn, still working out and eating healthy and managing life. 

anyway. this is not about my love affair with alcohol (fooled ya!). it's really about depression. sadness. and vulnerability.

the reality is that i was becoming extremely depressed, but i didn't realize it (which, btw, is tough to admit when you're a freakin' therapist). i began taking an antidepressant in the spring time to help take the edge of all that i was feeling. on any given day i would have told you i was just a bit stressed and life was tough, but if i was honest with myself, i can see now that i was falling deeper and deeper into this lonely little hole of self hatred and loathing and sadness and hopelessness. doesn't that sound just fun?

life seemed so much more pointless. even little things that used to bring me joy lost a little of their luster and i noticed i had a very short fuse and a very long recovery time from my explosions. husband and i started fighting a lot more. i just couldn't seem to catch a break of peace, the quick recoup i thought would fix it all. and of course, because of that, alcohol was a great remedy. a lovely soothing comfort each night to lull my brain to sleep and quiet me and my noise. (ironically, of course, alcohol is a depressant so while it was a nice quick fix for the moment, it just. kept. piling. up.)

t things came to an (inevitable) head two weeks ago, and hubby and i have been having some looooooooong, emotional, craptastic, vulnerable and much needed conversations this week. in reality, it's been hell. i have not felt this raw, this beat-up, this emotionally hungover since i was in rehab those long, long years ago. it's not pretty. 

it's not pretty and it's so hard. sharing all this stuff with someone. talking it out and being real, raw, and emotionally exposed.  i so, so desperately want to fix things and make them back to 'normal'. to shut off my feelings, to go back to the way things were, or to fast forward to the way they are going to be. i want to just stop beating myself up and having nasty, scary thoughts inside my head all day. i want to erase all the yucky things i've shared with my husband and pretend they aren't real- JK hubby! i want to back take all the mean, horrible things i've said to him and lock those words and actions away in a safe that has no key.

but it doesn't work that way, vulnerability. once it's out there, it's out there- no backsies. and the funny thing, is that it a turns out it's a decent remedy for depression. i mean, let's be real: it's a sucky remedy (wine feels SO much better  and easier than having someone point out your character defects and asking you to fix them!) but it's a real remedy. 

and with vulnerability comes intimacy. the reality of being known. and while that is scary beyond belief (at least to me), it also brings some safety. reassurance. validation. when i can't believe in myself, when the thoughts or beliefs in my head get too much for me to handle, i am pretty sure i can share at least parts of that with someone, and the burden of carrying that all inside is lifted a little. 

now the reality is, that's easier said than done. my MO is to run away and shut down- i don't normally feel something uncomfortable or scary and run closer TO it.. so i have a lot of uphill battles coming my way. and a lot of growing to do here. and still a lot of zoloft on my side.  i can say, though, that after trying out vulnerability instead of wine the last two weeks, i have felt much more pain (i still hate emotions!), but i have felt so much more encouraged. i have felt real.

it's going to be a long(ish) fight. depression doesn't just go away on it's own with one night or one week of 'come to jesus' vulnerability. it takes time and patience and work. it takes days of doing things you don't want to do and doing them because you know they work in the long run. it takes self care and self love and self GRACE and self FORGIVENESS. it takes people around you to guide you with care and gentleness and love. and in my experience, it takes understanding that i am God's work, His creation, and i am a work in progress. i am not, nor will i ever be, perfect. but if i draw near to my Creator, and i draw near to the safe, loving people around me, i can be real and loved and full of grace and mercy even when i feel like i don't deserve it. so that's what i am going to try to do. at least today.

for anyone that is struggling with depression, i want you to hear that you're not alone. and it's real. and hard. most people may tell you to shake it off, snap out of it, get over it. but you can't always- it's not that easy (wouldn't you have done that already if it was?!). depression can be scary. it can be discouraging. but it doesn't have to be the only way to live. if you struggle, please get help: reach out towards friends, a therapist, antidepressants, online or real-life support groups... there are options! we don't get to choose depression as our enemy, but we can chose if we want to fight against it. 

1 comment:

  1. This. This is EXACTLY where I'm at and what I needed to read tonight. And maybe just maybe I'll find a way to experience the vulnerability and healing again and hopefully/maybe before spiraling too far down. Thank you.