Introvert or insular?

I’ve been absent lately. Dipping in and out of social media, and struggling to be really present or social. I have little periods of time like this, and they’re for various reasons. This time, it was a combination of feeling a little blue (and so not really having confidence about what to say, or who to say it to) and also being more mindful of being present in my actual life, here at home. I’ve just been a bit, meh, I think is the best way to put it.

I’ve spoken to some much loved family and friends, and video called my mum and what not, so I haven’t been completely isolating from the world. But I’ve also realised that I’ve not really voluntarily left the house that much either, whether it be alone or with the kids, that I still have no real social movements or friendships close to me and that my world is really quite insular. And, more to the point, that I’m quite content with it. This is my normal now, it seems. 

I’m not sure whether this is a good or bad thing, or how I should really feel about it. But I’ve tried to remember the last times I regularly had plans to do things, or see people, and despite a good eight months of baby/toddler groups with N after we first made the move over this way, I’m struggling to think of any.

I used to be a loner because of (and to help facilitate) my drinking, and because I moved away from an area that I had lots of friends and connections (mainly drinking buddies, but also work friends, various housemates etc). But that was seven years ago and I haven’t really re-built anything solid since then.

People think I’m pleasant enough, I think, and I wouldn’t describe myself as a particularly divisive or inflammatory character. But equally, I’m not top (or even middle) of the list when it comes to making plans, or arranging to spend time with. I’m easily forgotten about, and I’m used to that – that’s not a new thing. I know I won’t be alone on feeling like I’m on the outskirts of friendship groups, or feeling I am missing out. 

People might describe me as an extrovert, or confident, but I’m not sure those descriptions really fit. It’s all an effort, and I’m usually anxious and sick at the prospect of going somewhere new on my own. I just grit my teeth and persevere with it. The children help cushion that, and I can focus entirely on them when I feel it’s all getting a bit much, but we aren’t really going to any toddler/baby groups either, as they’re all quite hard to get to. N isn’t at pre-school often enough for me to get to know the regular mums or anything. C doesn’t have a single baby buddy. So this state of affairs isn’t just about me, like everything in my world, it’s about them. 

I don’t know where I’m really going with this, just that I’m not sure if I should embrace my lack of upset over an insular, fairly isolating state of being, or concentrate on changing it. And really, how good and healthy it is for my kids? Maybe I’ll see how things go once I’ve finally passed my driving test at some point this year. Maybe my world will literally open up with new possibilities then. Until then I’ll let go, breathe out and take faith in it will all work out for the best, one way or another.

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Out and proud…?

In the past few days, I’ve heard of four people I know with an alcohol problem, or problem drinking. Some I knew about, others I didn’t (and won’t be naming here).

At one point, in my early futile attempts to get sober, or in my early sobriety, I was looking for signs that everyone had as dysfunctional a relationship with alcohol that I had. Whether to justify my having a drink, or to feel less bitter about the fact that they could drink and I couldn’t, I’m not sure. But nonetheless, I was hung up on that for a while.

And now, I hear things that sound the warning bells and flash the red lights and I feel sad. The things I’m relating to are worrying, as it’s the sort of thing I did when I was desperate and drowning. One is drinking again after AA meetings, and laughing his destruction off as ‘over dramatic’ and ‘I still like a party is all’. But I also see him isolating, apologising on Facebook days after a session, and being extremely depressed. Another is adamant they barely drink, but smelling of alcohol at work and getting shaky hands before their scheduled lunch (away from their desk and the office. Returning full of cheer and smelling of slightly less stale booze). One is arranging for their partner to hide several full bottles of wine for her nightly tipple, while discreetly taking the empties, so family and visitors don’t know she is drinking at all. And another has celebrated six months of sobriety, decided it’s boring, and is now trapped back again in the cycle, isolating and portraying that she’s having a blast (I’ve spoken to her prior and I’m not buying the latest twist in her story).

And now, I’m wondering if I should be more open about my own alcoholism and subsequent sobriety. On Facebook (yes, I know) as that’s the only connection to some. I know when I was struggling, I wanted to talk to someone who might understand, but I knew of no one. I felt alone. And yet I read about celebrities sober stories, or rehab stays, or tragic demises due to their drug of choice, with a fever – I am like them. But I don’t know how to start getting well.

I know I can’t help everyone. I know that not everyone who drinks heavily has a problem. And I know that if they do, I can’t really do anything until they can admit to themselves that they have a problem and want to stop. But I feel I should do something, and that being more visible may help that. Maybe they’ll just know that if they need to reach out, they can. Or that I might understand or relate. 

If I do, I’ll need to speak to my family first, and others before, as I’d hate for them to find out via Facebook. I seem to be pondering an awful lot at the moment without actually doing anything about it, I’ve just realised! At least I’m getting it durn here, rather than staying in my head, I guess.

Are you publicly sober? And if so, how did you know it was the right time to go public?

It’s all in the balance…

Life’s all a balancing act, apparently. We all have busy lives, these days, and many balls that we valiantly attempt to juggle while keeping a cheery and positive demeanour. Sound familiar?

But how do you get the balance right? Seriously, I’m asking for tips here. Because most of the time I feel swamped, like I’m drowning, and I can’t even fit in the lifeboat because the kids are throwing a tantrum in there. Everywhere I turn there’s stuff to do, people to look after and who need attention and not enough time to cram it all into.

It’s not all as gloomy as it sounds. Sometimes I have days that I manage more than I could ever have anticipated. So many chores achieved (that’s extra plus the daily mountain), brilliantly fun games with the children, maybe some baking in a (not often) spotless kitchen. I might even squeeze in a shower, or apply make up too. I am woman, hear me roar.

And then, there are days where nothing gets done. Nada, zilch, zip. Intentions are great, execution is piss poor; because both kids have decided to screech for no reason, or the dog is having a bit of a wild day, or despite the fact I’ve spent the whole damn day racing around attempting to get things done, at the end of the day, I’ve achieved nothing. Nada, zilch, zip.

It only takes a few of those days before I feel utterly overwhelmed and defeated. The self doubts set in. I berate myself harshly. Tears are shed, usually irrationally. The days feel like endless gloom, with a bit of bleak tossed in as well. I realise that I haven’t shared my time equally. One of my many loves will have been compromised in the midst of the madness, and the guilt sets in. I’m not doing this right. Maybe I’m not but out to be a mum. They all deserve better than me. Etc.

I find it so difficult when this hits, because I’ve had depression throughout my life and postnatal depression after my son. And I’m never quite sure if I’m back there, and I need help, or whether it’s a rough patch that will pass. Whether it will pass, or get worse. Whether I’ll hit so low I won’t even notice that I’m seriously ill again. And whether medication would even work, as it didn’t last time (on a separate note, sometimes I conveniently forget that drinking on the medication would no doubt have contributed to this and negated much of the needed affect of the drugs. I chose self medication, and not to bleat on about my alcoholism again but that didn’t go so well. Obviously.) 

I think what I need to remember is that every parent has these days too – whether you’re working or stay at home, mum or dad. I don’t think anyone ever warns you of the crippling guilt that is a huge part of parenthood, and how overwhelming it can feel at times. How frustrating it can be to not manage to successfully toilet in peace, let alone tackle the laundry. But I’ll be checking myself, just to make sure that I’m not on a slippery slope. I don’t want to go back there again.

(If you or someone you know have beenaffected  by postnatal depression – or any perinatal depression – there is a twitter support group that runs between 8-9pm GMT to talk. It’s called PND Hour, and you can find it on #PNDHour. Also #pndchat is checked daily if you are struggling at any time, so please reach out. And the wonderful founder is Rosey at @PNDandme. The people in there have saved my sanity on many occasions, so please get involved, it’s a wonderful community.)