Don’t give up before your motivation returns

5 Nov

2:46 pm

So, in getting sober, I’ve realized that there are things about myself that I know. Things that simply make me “me,” that are neither things that I have to accept nor things that I have to change. They are things that just ARE, and these things are OK.

Like, I’ve always been an overachiever. Some of this behavior was maladaptive, but to a certain degree, I was just born this way. I THRIVE off stress, off getting things done. A LOT of people do, I’m not saying I’m special. In fact, I’ve been wondering about this ever since I got sober. Why have I been struggling so much this past year? Well, I’ve been lacking in motivation because I don’t have wine anymore, that’s true, but I’ve also been going against my grain. Why do I need to go, go, go? Why do I like big cities, with all their ambitious people and innovative ideas and commotion and conflict? I don’t know! I just DO. That’s me.

The past few days have been awesome–large to-do lists, lots of information and sources to research, too much to do, all of it competing for my time. I got off on working in environments like this–for years I worked in the startup industry, and when I went back to corporate America, I can look back now and say that’s when I became depressed. When I went back to graduate school and was once again stretched to my limit, I was on top of the world again! Too bad I didn’t know how to manage my stress and my expectations–my “workaholism,” I suppose I could call it.

It’s always been a fine line for me, but in re-reading my journal from this year last night, I can say this much: I was my most enthusiastic after returning from a weekend visit back to NYC; and, I have never been more vexed, in general, than this past year struggling with too little to do and no motivation to do it.

No motivation was a daily thing in my journal, from about March until, well, now. It’s seriously been a theme in my getting sober. It was a constant struggle, and I blogged about it quite a bit. Now? I feel like there’s been some movement, something’s changed. My brain is healing, for real. Chemicals and circuits are getting back in shape. And, I can honestly say that it’s been like a missile landing in my lap, this return of my motivation levels. What a relief.

My focus, my desire to work, and my ability to manage my time–it’s all back, so it seems. I can “parse” information even better than I remember I could. For example, I seem to have learned how to say “Fuck it” to my perfectionist tendency to get lost in the details when reporting, and instead, focus on the bigger picture, the gist of it. What I need to know is who to contact; what I don’t need to know is their field of expertise (that’s why I’m interviewing them), OR–and this is key–whether or not they’re going to think I’m stupid or ill-prepared. That’s none of my business, what they think of me. (And, they simply don’t think of me, is the point. When I was drinking, I was always so concerned with what others were supposedly thinking about me. Ugh.)

It really does seem that it’s happened only within the past several weeks, maybe a month or two at most–along with motivation, I find myself focusing less on the “what if’s” and trying to perfect the outcome, and more on the “why not?” and “just do it.”

I almost gave up. I was so frustrated that I was going to be “brain-dead” forever. It’s been almost 17 months since I started getting sober, so, seeing my focus and motivation needing that long to come back is DEFINITELY a deterrent to me starting to drink again (even in moderation, whatever that means).

These past few weeks, I feel new. Renewed. A version 3.0 of myself. (I was going to say 2.0, but I think at 39, I’ve already had at least one major upgrade, right?)

The point of this post is, don’t give up! It will come. As Carol said on “Walking Dead” on Sunday’s episode (because you never know where you’re going to find sober inspiration!):

How do you not feel afraid? You just fight it and fight it and fight it and then one day, you’re not afraid anymore. We all change.

6 Responses to “Don’t give up before your motivation returns”

  1. furtheron November 6, 2013 at 4:50 am #

    When I entered the rehab I went to they got you to do a survey. They were looking at all potential addictions etc. I remember it well I answered the question “Do you jump at any opportunity for illicit sex?” with “Chance would be a fine thing!” They were concerned about my taking it too lightly so sat me down with it again! :-/

    Anyway it was useful as my addictions are… 1. Alcohol – that was stating the bleeding obvious 2. Food – I binge eat esp when stressed, I still do sometimes, work buffet dos are the worst! 3. Relationships – didn’t expect that… etc.

    For me – work was nowhere! For others it was up near the top – funny there was one guy who kept arguing that the rule of handing your phone in by 7:30am and not getting it back until after all groups were finished and your daily diary handed in – about 8 – 9 pm normally was untenable with his job etc. etc. Guess what – Work was higher than his drug addiction. He stormed out of rehab, only to return when I was on the day programme some months later no longer looking the high flying exec he had. Sadly he is one of several from my cohort who didn’t make it I heard a year or two later he’d died from a heart attack he was only in his 30s.

    So – will work kill you like booze or drugs? Will it damage you and relationships like booze can? I think it is ok to live in some of your minor addictions as long as you are aware of the pitfalls of them. I’m grateful that the rehab gave me that knowledge early on. I have an addiction with guitars and music, it is ok, it is not out of control, I keep a reasonable lid on it.

    My “sponsor” says “I have a thousand addictions at any one time. I suppress one for another to pop up – it’s like trying to squeeze a balloon”.

    So – long ramble to say… just beware of this to make sure it isn’t the sneaky addiction demon finding away to get you believing something is good for you when it may not be.

    • Drunky Drunk Girl November 6, 2013 at 6:10 pm #

      Great comment–thanks for sharing. Yes, I realize now that work is a huge trigger for me, and that includes a lot of what I tend to write about (creativity, feeling stuck, perfectionism, being addicted to work and “doing” and competing)… So, it’s good to know that there are others with all these “upstream” addictions or patterns of behavior, too!

  2. Carrie Kaffer November 6, 2013 at 6:51 am #

    For this new chick- Day #8- it is so helpful to read experiences like this of people much further along the trail. I think at this point I have no idea what I have embarked on, and what changes are ahead of me. DDG’s comment about time for brain healing, for letting the circuits and neurons learn how to function without a steady background of ethanol- strike me as an important truth. At this point, I am thinking: keep putting one foot in front of the next, plodding step by plodding step, without obsessing too much about my ultimate destination. Thank you!

    • Drunky Drunk Girl November 6, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

      Hi, Carrie,
      Thank you for the comment!

      …”letting the circuits and neurons learn how to function without a steady background of ethanol” – totally! There is a lot of scientific research pointing to the fact of drinking messing all this up. And, it’s SO important to know this, to realize that while yes, it takes time and that just sucks, no, we can do it and one day, our brains change–on their own, with just subtracting booze from the equation. Keep going, one foot at a time, one step, one craving. Some days will be easy, some days won’t. But EVERY day you don’t drink is adding to your sober bank, building your sober muscle. One day, you’ll suddenly notice how full it is, and how big it is! Email me anytime… xx

  3. Lisa Neumann November 6, 2013 at 2:12 pm #

    This is uplifting to the core. This IS recovery! You nailed it. L

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