maybe i’m a whack job

from my inbox:

from PMD: “Maybe I’m just a whack job. OK, I am a whack job. Closing in on 10 months sober and I’m ready to throw the towel in. On everything.

I never really had that sober euphoria I kept hearing about. My birthday just past and it seemed to trigger anger in me, like when one of my daughters didn’t even acknowledge it. A lot of things piss me off nowadays. End of the week, Friday & Saturday, I used to look forward to it are now the same fucking thing as a Tuesday. Nothing really to look forward to. If I start drinking my wife will leave. If I stay angry like I am now my wife will leave. I’m fucking sick of that threat, which has been for 22 years. Maybe it’s just marriage problems, maybe I’m bi-polar, maybe all of the above.

With regard to not drinking, I really am not happy with the results. WTF? Ever hear of this?

God bless you for doing what you do, I don’t think I’d ever want to listen to the moaning of people like me.”

me: Dear Whack Job. There’s a lot to unpack here, and I don’t know you very well (yet).

first.
it’s entirely possible that you have years of stored anger that never got expressed when you were drinking. and now it’s leaking out of you like a tire with a nail in it. this is not necessarily a bad thing. stored emotions do need to come out …

for me, though, I always think that anger is masking something else. it’s usually not just anger. it’s fear, or disappointment, or regret, or shame, or embarrassment or fear or fear or fear. but anger is easier to reach for than the real underlying painful thing. fear of abandonment. fear of rejection. disappointment that no one understands. whatever. I’m only guessing (I’m guessing based pm what it is for me when I’m angry).

your 1% emotional improvement homework for today would be: “the last time I was angry (today? yesterday?), what was I angry about, what was I REALLY angry about. if it wasn’t anger, what was it? And what would Belle say was under what I was really feeling even if I can’t see it / say it.” you don’t have to admit this to any one outloud, just email me.

second.
there’s a well documented sober slump from 8ish months to 10ish months. there’s a hill you climb and then suddenly you can see your one year soberversary coming up. can you face forward and see it (yet)? you will. then things will feel better.

third.
if you really are bi-polar then your brain fires off all kinds of stuff that seems inconsistent, incongruent, or downright unpredictable. I’m sure you have a doctor or two. I’m sure someone more qualified than me can help you with this. medication is a wonderful thing if you take it.

fourth.
(really did you want me to go on and on like this? probably not!)
ahem. fourth.
you’re not staying sober because of a threat from your wife. you’re staying sober because you like your life, you like your wife, you like your kids, YOU don’t want to lose this. you don’t want to face backwards. you want to face forwards and see new stuff coming.

and finally.
some days are shitty days. being angry in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. some people are shitty and they make us angry. some kids are disrespectful. some wives nag. some husbands spring to anger quickly and some wives never really know what it’s about.

some husbands reach out for sober support cuz they want to be sober, they want to stay sober.
that’s you. I can tell.

now do your 1% homework and email me back.

love
me”

Belle

I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

31 thoughts to “maybe i’m a whack job”

  1. Thanks for posting this Belle. I just had a twinge of this myself. Saw some Instagram photos of people sitting around drinking. I was like, what day is it?! Ohhhhhh yeah Friday. Wow. I used to really look forward to Friday. I guess it is a bit like Tuesday now. But at least there are no more Mondays spent in regret or Wednesdays spent in turmoil about my entire life. Or Saturdays spent hung over. I think a different focus is in need here. Apparently there are tremendous benefits in having hobbies. Interests. Something for yourself. Sending strength. We are all whack jobs, really 🙂

    1. There is a term often used in recovery about being a “dry drunk”. That is somebody is miserable and not happy in sobriety. I am not an AA pusher, but AA teaches you to trust in others, and get support and to believe in a power higher than yourself. It doesn’t have to be religion, or God of a religion, it can be a group that as a whole, not as individuals can help. The good news is when you quit drinking you get your feelings back, and the bad news is when you quit drinking you get your feelings back.

      I really believe the key is doing something for others to get out of your own problems. Life is worth living, even when sometimes it doesn’t seem that way.

  2. PMD; Thanks for your post, I think many of us feel the way you do. I am also full of anger and have been trying to figure out why for a long time. My conclusion is that I have never ever felt safe. Never really had a safe environment with loving relationships that you would trust to be there for you. I also feel a constant threat of my husband leaving. And, the threat that he would use my alcoholism against me in a custody battle no matter if I am sober or not. I know he would, he is a lawyer and we have actually been divorced once before.
    I read an article on the safety and love and how it relates to addiction recently that may be of interest….I hope it is allowed to post:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/the-real-cause-of-addicti_b_6506936.html

    My mission now is to create a new network of sober friends where I feel like I belong. I am very hopeful that will make me feel safer!

    1. Yes. There was no one else to rely on, no one wanted to help. I could take care of myself. That’s how I felt. Sometimes you need help. Sometimes you can’t do all the heavy lifting alone. Reach out.

  3. Totally agree with this. I was disappointed to find that my life was not necessarily fabulous now that I was not drinking. Unfortunately once the dust clears you can see clearly the things you were avoiding dealing with while drinking – and that sucks. Besides that factor, the Friday thing is very real – the celebration with drinks on a Friday is a long standing tradition in most people’s lives and unless there is something to replace it, there is an empty feeling and you think, why exactly am I not having fun with everyone else I know? I have no real hobbies yet so I fill my time with work, the gym and my kids. From what I can see in my own life, you really need to change everything for this new life. Out are the sitting on the beach vacations, in are the athletic vacations. Out are the Friday nights in a bar or with drinks drinking wine, in are the Saturday mornings on a bike ride. and so on. I also read two things (one from Belle) and one in a book that I think of often – 1). Its okay to feel uncomfortable about not drinking. You can be in the moment and feel that feeling and just not act on it. 2) In deciding whether to drink or not, look at your life overall and ask yourself, is my life better or worse without alcohol it it?

  4. One good thing i see at Aa is open discussion about anger and self pity and learning to understand our part in it. This seems valuable for people who might not otherwise want to talk about their feelings with a therapist or their friends.

  5. Whack on sober man, I know you can stay sober just for today. I had nine months once went out drank and have had a month since! That was about five years ago! I was in the same spot you were describing , and I can tell you don’t do it!

  6. It’s funny how our post drinking minds are so selective. It’s easy to minimize the real reasons we quit in the first place. What was it like on the outside of us, in our presence when we drank? I made a list, a long list of regretful things I did when drinking. After that reality check, I remembered shit Belle says, “Do I really want to relapse on a fuck it moment?” I also see the gifts I carry from team members’ posts, like “I was so far from my bottom I couldn’t see it anymore”– that’s when the idea to again drink seems to be tempting. I force myself to rub my own face in my bottom(s) because that is the force that again gave me (enriched, sober) life. Dear team member, PMD, if u go to the other side, can u project where it could, take you? When I have ‘relapsed on a fuck it moment’, it’s always way longer and uglier of a journey into the wolfie den than I ever imagined. Let’s press a fast forward button here…..what do you see? Thanks for your openness, we all learn from each other. Sending you Luv and light….and please send me some too. I want what you have….2BLimber (day 36)

  7. Great post! And I agree with you, Belle, PMD wants to be sober or he wouldn’t reach out to you with his concerns and questions, he would just drink. I love the way you described how the good and the bad still happen, even when you’re sober, but that wanting to stay sober will get you through those days. Because when you really want it (or until you really want it again!), you will reach out (instead of drinking), you will try something new (instead of drinking), you will give yourself a treat (instead of drinking), you will call it a day and go to bed early (instead of drinking), you will just keep pulling tools out of the toolbox until the rough time passes. And it will. Hang in there, PMD, even whack jobs like us deserve to be free from Wolfie’s clutches.

  8. Thanks! This was so helpful, I am sure to PMD and all of us! “There’s a well documented sober slump from 8ish months to 10ish months.” I did not know that, but it might just explain my “Blah, Why am I doing this again?” occasional feelings here at 8 1/2 months! And looking for the real reason under anger-great stuff Belle!

  9. A friend in my AA group gave me a bit of advice that really works for me. “Play the tape all the way through to the end”. Think beyond the first drink. There will be a second drink, and then the bottle, and then the hangover and the shame, and the feelings of inadequacy because you lost your sober time and have to go back to day one. That has stopped me in my tracks every single time.

    I get it though. Friday nights are sort of blah. I do have hobbies, but really don’t want to drag out watercolors at 9 PM when my drinking would start. So I tough it out until Saturday morning when I DON’T have a hangover. And that’s nice.
    Please hang in there.

  10. Fridays were always my favorite days/nights too – to relax and unwind with my well-deserved wine. Until I realized that every other day was becoming just like a Friday – which ended up with the same question you posed “What do I have to look forward to on Fridays?” My current strategy is to reconnect with any activity I may have done as a kid – obviously drinking was not involved – it may not be on Friday night – but definitely on the weekend. I’ve missed out on a lot over the past years feeling like crap most days.

    p.s. we are all whack jobs at some level. How boring the world would be if we were all perfectly vanilla. It’s just that some of us are brave enough to look inside ourselves and admit to having faults or shortcomings – and put it out there. That it half the battle and where the healing begins.

  11. Whack job here too! Great to see everyone’s honesty here because I’m at 6 months and I have the same stinkin thinkin of how fuckin boring my life is Most Friday nights and that I will end up alone (I’m 50) without anyone!! Pity party … I just was taught to knit so hey a big sweater coulld be just around the corner for someone!!! Thx everyone and stay strong or at least sober ;). Big hugs xo

  12. I’m following on How To Vomits tail lights at 200+ days. I still like to make Friday nights special. Tonight, I’m lighting my new stove (6 month sober reward), I’m having fish and chips, I’m reading my new book and i’m relaxing. No house work allowed on Friday nights!

    Belle what’s all this about anger?! I have been feeling self-justifiably ANGRY with my partner for days and days. We are barely speaking. I could spit nails. And you are telling me that it could be fear – YIKES!

    Well that’s for analyzing tomorrow because Friday night is chill out night.

    Good luck PMD. You’re doing fine.

  13. PMD, I am taking the time to respond because I would like to help you stay sober, if indeed, that’s what you want. First of all, I think what Belle responded is worth going over. Take the time to consider it. Second, or perhaps it shoudl be the lead off comment, but either way, congratulations on 9+ sober months. That’s huge, even if it’s not as great as you’d hoped/expected.
    I’m going to take a more tough love approach here; please remember the word love. I know I don’t know you, but I feel we in Belle’s group here are connected and I do feel a very special and positive emotion toward everyone struggling to stay sober. (I just made it past my one year anniversary, so I’m no expert.)
    So saying, I suggest that you try and examine your expectations. I hate those little aphorisms like “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Ya, right. Not drinking is hard, and lemonade isn’t booze. The one exception to the “I hate trite little advice slogans” is one I read decades ago and have found to be workable. It is as follows. “Expectations are resentments waiting to happen.”
    The less I expect of others, the more pleasantly surprised I am when they do something fun or good. What were your expectations of sobriety and what it would bring? Back when you were drinking, what prompted you to get sober?
    Trying to let go of your expectations of your daughters and your wife might help a little with the anger. That’s hard and counter-intuitive; they are family, after all. Still give it a day–try just meeting them for the rest of today without expecting anything and see what you observe.
    As for your birthday, make it your day. It is that, you know. So you decide how to treat and reward yourself. Get yourself something or do something you really want. Don’t wait for anyone else to make your day.
    If you want to hear from people, let people know your birthday is coming and you’d really appreciate hearing from folks. Stay a tradition of calling the people who mean something to you on your birthday and celebrate by talking or otherwise spending time with them. Call your daughter, tell her you missed hearing from her on your birthday and ask her what she’d like to do on hers.
    If you find you are still angry at your wife and daughter, have you thought about asking each to talk with you, a heart to heart? That goes both ways, so be prepared to possibly hear some things that have or are making them angry with you.
    I work M-F 8 to 5 and I used to feel the way you describe on Friday nights. So I built in other treats. Instead of drinking, now I let myself have food treats I don’t have during the week. I spend the money I would have spent on drinking on doing other things I love, other healthy things. I plan fun things for early Saturday so I have a good reason and incentive to get to bed early Friday. I get it; this may not work for you. The thing is, find something that does. Even when you were drinking, you were more than the booze. What are the things you love: to do, to eat, to play, to listen to, to read, to see, to dream about? Maybe right now a big part of you actually likes letting out the anger. Can you express that physically, say by driving a bucket of golf balls, cutting a cord of wood, hiking out into the woods and yelling as loud as you can, going to a gym and working out until you’re beat?
    Finally, if you find that you are really angry at yourself, you’re being way too tough on yourself. Let’s stop and celebrate the fact that you got this far along in sobriety. That’s a big deal. WHile you can’t change the past, hanging in and staying sober for another day in order to try and come up with a bit of plan for how to reach a more happy frame of mind–well, could you try and do that for yourself instead of reaching for a drink? Just today. Check back in tomorrow. We’ll be here. You seem to have attracted a number of thoughtful friends who really care about helping you; you have to be doing something right. And that’s definitely not whacked.

  14. I get it. I had to go through that anger feeling for awhile.
    But then, with some work on my self-talk, I started to switch it around.
    Now, I see Friday nights as a time to relax by walking, or going out to dinner with good food, or just watching TV.
    It’s becoming a new way of looking at life.
    In fact, it is how life was meant to be lived.
    And I agree with everyone else…we are all wacky!

  15. This is my first ever sober (or any) blog post. I am back on day three, on Belle’s 100 day challenge. Reading these comments is helpful. Doing toolbox homework on Fridays is probably what I will need to do more of. I work in the restaurant biz and Friday night is really hard to get thru while you are in a lively booze filled setting most of the night and then wiped out and not able to have one of your own later. But so much of my just doesn’t want it anymore. I want to be well and free. Hold onto that feeling PMD. Remember you are a hero and mentor to us newbie fledgelings. Do it for us too. Tell your wife you need her unconditional support and you don’t Want her to leave you and the threat is really worrisome and distracting and you love her and hope that you can support her when she really needs you some day. Peek over the ridge and see that one year sober anniversary. Plot your treats and rewards for that day now. Best of luck and we’ll all be here routing for you.

  16. I’m not even at a month yet. Part of the reason I kept relapsing before is my disappointment with “real life”. In real life I have ongoing medical issues that at least I got a break from with booze. So, I keep lowering my expectations. I hate that trite “each day is a gift” stuff, because that does not ring true every day. But if I slog through enough days, I might find ONE day that is.

    I’m inspired by 9 months. Keep GOING!

  17. I’m just over one year sober. I feel conflicted and angry. This past week I’ve been dealing with an incredible amount of work stress which I would normally address with drinking. Every single night I come home from work and debate with myself about just having a drink, ok, I need a drink, etc. I NEED a break from this pain that I’m just not getting from sobriety. I haven’t relapsed yet, not today. This is torture but what’s the alternative? Even Drinking is not enough. Now who’s the whack job.

  18. PMD (aka Whack Job) here.

    Just thought I should respond to all the support I got here. I am not a blogger and if fact not a regular emailer to Belle. This site however is virtually my only support.

    I sent that note because I was ready to throw in the towel. Angry as a moth*r f^cker. Drink again, f^ck the marriage and everything else.

    Then Belle really came through. I actually teared up when I read her personal response to me. The fact that she took the time and effort and thought to write that really struck a chord. But I never responded to her. Why? Because I hadn’t figured much out, still haven’t, so no great success story here. I’m also a guy, guys don’t need support.

    And then she posted it on this blog and the response from everyone was shocking to me. I guess I’m not the first person to feel this way, I thought I was special there for a while.

    And holy shit, there are people trying to quit that think I’m doing great?!? Inspired by a whack job? WTF?!? That in itself gave me some perspective. Expecting some big reward for my big sacrifice of not drinking is selfish. Maybe I need to look at things from a perspective other than mine once in a while.

    Coming up on a year now, and frankly I don’t give a shit about that. It’s not like it’ll be ok to start drinking again after a year, I’ll just be letting my family down.

    I guess I’ll just keep swimming and try figure things out as I go. You should too.

    PMD

    1. Hi PMD! First of all, you’re not a whack job. I think all of us have gone through similar feelings. You mentioned not getting a reward for stopping drinking. I totally get that. It’s hard as hell to stop – and you deserve a big reward! But I also think that unless you’ve been in our shoes (your wife) you won’t really understand how hard it is, and what an accomplishment it is. We all get it, and we are very proud of you!!! I also agree with what someone else said about how having expectations leads to resentments. That was one thing that helped me a lot when I was new in sobriety and my family was still really angry at me. You clearly know that you don’t want to drink, for you, not for someone else – which is the motive needed to make it stick. There’s a lot of great advice in these comments (and of course our fearless leader, Belle). I would also consider having a heart to heart with your wife and let her know that this whole thing has been really hard and you’d really appreciate her recognizing your accomplishment. Maybe she doesn’t even realize what a struggle it’s been. I’m glad you reached out for support and that Belle shared it so the rest of us whack jobs could let you know you’re not alone and you do have support out here.

  19. My ex was a perpetually angry man. When we went to marriage counseling, the counselor explained that for many men, anger is the only emotion they are allowed to show in this society, anything else makes them look weak somehow, so all other emotions become masked in anger. I think you are spot on Belle, for having Whack explore what he is REALLY feeling.

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