When I started down this road I knew that my situation would be unique to me. But I also believed that there must be lots of folks who had gone before me. In other words, I assumed there was a clear path. For a Type A, highly anxious, perfectionist-I REALLY needed a “path.” Somewhere that I would start, follow along, and then end at a place of achievement with a nice shiny gold star. So, I was a little disappointed to find out that the so called “path” was more like a spaghetti junction! There were traffic jams, and pot holes, and cones, and people yelling to follow them. It was daunting.
Back when I was pregnant with Max I read a lot. I was going to nail this parenting thing and I had all the books to tell me just how to do so. Right at the end of my pregnancy I read two very different books about how to feed your baby. The first book said follow a tight schedule, don’t get off the plan, stay on track no matter what. The other one said feed him anytime, never stop holding him, don’t have a schedule.
If I am being honest both of these ideas sounded horrible. Having to stick to a strict schedule at all times was just overwhelming and the thought of never putting down my baby was too much. The only two things that these books had in common were the VERY intense theme that THIS way is the right way. And, if you don’t do it this way-you will f up your baby. (I think I added the f up your baby part-but that’s what I remember).
So, when the time came to actually feed my baby I had no idea what to do. Both of these books kept creeping in, instilling fear, and making me question my instincts. So, I did what any terrified, exhausted, anxious mom would do and I froze. Nursing was insanely hard (and I would soon learn impossible), I hadn’t yet learned about pumping, and I wasn’t ready to give into formula. For three straight days I lied to everyone about how feeding was going while I agonized, stressed, and feared the worst.
Thankfully time has passed and Max is a healthy first grader now! But, I tell this story because I feel like I have all the resources I could ever need at my fingertips- but that is overwhelming. When I started the search for help with the connection between anxiety and drinking there were a million different paths I could’ve taken that said they were the ONE right way. I do believe that they would have all gotten me to the place I needed but the trying to decide which one was paralyzing.
What if I failed? What if I started on the path and it was too hard? What if I didn’t know which way to go or made a mistake? Then what? These were the thoughts that made it hard to start down any path. Fear.
I soon learned SO WHAT!!!!?? Who cares if I had to start over, or re learn the process, or go back and read the book! I would still be putting actual effort toward something. And, I would be learning and trying and getting stronger with each defeat.
I had to make my own path. And the way I did that was by STARTING. I showed up! I had to WANT to make the change. I had to find my way and I changed my direction at times, I made wrong turns, I backed up, my headlights burned out. It’s ok! I still got there.
And when I was tired and weak my WHY kept me going. I remembered that the last time I drank I was so anxious the next day that I couldn’t speak, I remembered that before I started this path I felt like crap, I had no motivation, no energy, I was apathetic, and grumpy. I remembered why I didn’t want to live like that and then I kept going. One very small step at a time I just kept moving forward.