Do you drink? My father is an alcoholic. His illness destroyed our relationship. However, now that I am older and wiser I have a feeling that he might suffer from anxiety or some form of mental illness. As frightening as it is, I see a lot of him in myself. Right now, for example, I am half a bottle of wine in. Let me preface this by saying that I am not a big drinker. I do not drink during the week or by myself (generally). I have implemented these safe guards to help me avoid becoming like my dad.
But it’s a Sunday night, I have friends coming over and I am frantically cleaning the house so that it’s presentable for company. I had an anxiety attack in the car about 2 hours ago. Anxiety attacks prior to social functions is pretty standard for me. Social situations make me uncomfortable because I put a lot of pressure on myself to be the perfect friend, the perfect hostess and the perfect wife (hence the cleaning). The pressure that I place on myself, that my mental health put on me, is all consuming and completely overwhelming. And it is only just occurring to me now, as I write this post, that I use alcohol as a mechanism for coping with my social anxiety.
Don’t get me wrong, a glass of wine to take the edge off while I’m getting ready is pretty standard and I have known for a long time that it also helps to numb my fear of social situations but right now I have just had the epiphany that alcohol in these situations is my way of avoiding the underlying problems. My underlying issue presently is my fear of suburbia but we’ll get to that in a future post.
So I had an anxiety attack. I had to pull over so that I could cry and gather myself again using a little bit of mindfulness. Then I came home and promptly opened a bottle of wine while I did the vacuuming. This is where I see my dad in myself. I’m aware of my anxiety and I know that alcohol is not the way to go but I do use it when I need to act like a normal person in social situations. My dad was drunk all of the time, I have very few memories of him where he didn’t have a beer in his had or hadn’t already had one.
But what if my dad also suffered from anxiety? What if he was drunk all of the time because he didn’t want to deal with the voices in his head, the tightness around his chest? What if he drank all of the time to avoid feeling what I’m feeling? To avoid that feeling that everything is out of control, to avoid the overwhelming negativity inside my head. If my theory is right, I can understand why he would choose to drink. It’s the easy way out, but it’s a way out.
I need help and I am getting it. My self-medication with alcohol is not my finest moment but right now it’s either that or curl up in the fetal position in my bed and hyperventilate while people are knocking on my door. If I don’t clean the house and get the food ready then who will?
So I have a glass of wine, I put a smile on my face and I push on.
If you need help with alcoholism please contact AA Australia.
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