Last night I had what has become my weekly crying jag: distressed, weepy protests and subsequent acquiescence to the reality of recovery. This one was borne of frustration, from both myself and my mother, after I brought up the idea of participating in a summer abroad program:
“You’re not ready,” she had said. “We can talk about it as a possibility next year, but it’s just not a reality for you right now.”
(Cue my whining.)
“But if not now, then when? Brea is abroad for a whole year – this is just for a couple weeks. It’s not faa-aa-air.”
“You can’t compare yourself to Brea, or anyone else; you’re different. I’m not comfortable with you going away when you still have so much to conquer.”
She said it with love, but I was still so, so upset. Crushed, even. I felt like a rat stuck in a maze, banging my head against the same walls over and over again. When, exactly, will I qualify as having overcome my problems? When will I be considered “better”? I have always had “so much to conquer” and therefore feel that this will be a lifelong struggle, and though my mom was able to acknowledge that, it seemed to make me that much more confused: If she agrees that I will always be fighting for recovery, always be fighting my self-destructive behaviors, then how can she also see me as “ready,” as Alexa the Conqueror of All the Bad Shit?
The bottom line from last night’s tearfest, however, is that recovery is about progress. It’s a journey – a lifelong one – and it’s something you need to tackle one day at a time. It ain’t easy, and it ain’t fun, but it’s necessary and important. I need to put on my big girl panties and deal with it by making the changes required to get my life moving in the right direction, towards health and emotional well-being. That means no more drinking or drugs, no smoking, more exercise, better eating habits.. a total turnaround from how I’ve been living these past several years. That’s totally daunting and scary, but it’s something I need to do in order to live. And I mean live as in straight-up survive, because all those behaviors have ruined my mental and physical health and will only continue to do so. If you think I’m being melodramatic, just talk to my doctors. Better yet, talk to my parents and sister, who have been affected by my poor choices and bad decisions more than I have.
Good health is attainable. One day at a time, baby.
My new mantra: Progress, not perfection. Progress, not perfection. Progress, not perfection…