Alison's Insights

Making Sense of Addiction Recovery in Midlife One Slow Deep Breath at a Time

Newsflash! I’m Not Perfect.

I have been working on the development of a book – and all the moving parts of it – for almost a year.  For those of you who have attempted such a monumental feat, you know that’s not a long time.  But if you’re a recovering perfectionist like me, it seems rather drawn out.

Here’s the truth.  I’ve never been OK with things taking its natural course.  From waiting for a plant to grow to waiting for the effects of alcohol hitting my system to recovering from an obsessed-based addiction, I wanted it now, fast and easy … oh and perfectly done.

I was told how to combat this need for immediate gratification when I was a newcomer to the rooms of recovery.  Seems that’s a pretty common issue among my fellow recovering friends.  I quickly realized taking things one day at a time isn’t just referring to going without the drug of choice, it’s about life.  Things take time, so let them.

You’d think I’d have that down by now, right?  Wrong!

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went on vacation to the one place we both feel completely at peace.  Words cannot express how much we look forward to going there.  Prior to the trip, I made a quasi-commitment with myself to casually work on the book proposal if I felt so inclined.  It was a great plan … for someone else.

About three days into the vacation I was far from peaceful.  For one reason or another, I literally felt I had to be doing something every day in order to get the proposal done. It was as if there was some mystical force watching my every move judging whether or not I was being productive with my time.  In my mind I kept hearing, “Forget vacation, you’ve got a book proposal to write!”

On that third day I realized something all too familiar was going on with me.  I knew it as soon as I felt it.  Without seeing it coming, that old obsessive, “black and white” thinking was coming at me 100 miles an hour.  If I was sitting by the pool I felt I was being lazy and unproductive.  If I was writing, it felt like I wasn’t allowing myself the benefits of taking a vacation.  It was either/or with nothing in between.  I’ve been there before and when I was, I self-destructed to the extreme.

I started to panic.  I didn’t want to find myself back there again.  For God’s sake, I stepped away from my corporate career for this exact reason.  Back then I didn’t know any other way to get things done other than to push too hard, expect too much and never be OK with anything being “good enough.”  During those days I was like an impending cyclone.  I caused fear and panic not only within myself, but for all those poor souls who happened to stand in my wake.

The good news is, this time I knew what to do.  I reached out and told on myself.  I contacted someone I knew would understand based on her practical experience in what I was going through.  After hearing me out, she helped me realize it wasn’t about whether I worked on the book proposal during my vacation.  What was really going on was I needed the approval not to.  She went on to tell me by allowing myself the benefits of a vacation, when I got home I’d be better able to approach my writing with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.  Almost immediately I felt better and back on track.  The vacation was fantastic and I’m now writing with refreshed vigor.

Once again, it’s good to know I’m not alone.



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2 thoughts on “Newsflash! I’m Not Perfect.

  1. Amy_TN on said:

    Just found your website and I love it! Good luck with your proposal! You can do it!

  2. Hi Amy! I’m thrilled you found the site and hope you’ll keep coming back to it. Thank you for the support and encouragement to get the proposal done. It’s not “work” when there is passion involved. My best …

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