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Unlearning toxic behaviours and coping mechanisms

So anyone that knows me, will know (and have experienced) that dealing with the stress of day to day life isn’t exactly my strong point. I’m pretty useless at it but I always found addiction was a pretty useful coping mechanism. Addiction to drinking came first and with that came a whole load of other toxic behaviours that helped me ‘cope’ with varying situations.

I used various coping mechanisms to help with my anxiety, stress and unhappiness throughout my life. Drinking and smoking were a subconscious way of coping but I had no idea. I never really saw them as such. My addiction to spending money on totally pointless and random things to get an immediate (but very short) high was also so unhealthy and to be honest still is. Now that I’ve stopped drinking, my addiction to other things in order to escape has increased, which is OK for now because one step at a time right? However, I do need to start deconstructing the toxic traits I have learned as a way to cope with developmental trauma and stress so that I can learn new, healthier coping strategies.

One of my biggest problem behaviours is allowing my inner critic to control my mind to the point of insanity. I am the best at critising anything I do and bullying myself into believing I’m not good enough. It’s exhausting and it’s so bloody toxic. Addiction made it so much worse and gave my inner critic a lot more power over me. Instead of confronting the problem head on, I drank (and whatever else) it away, giving it more control every time I did. In sobriety, I am learning to externalise my inner critic as a bully so that I can stop identifying with the ‘it’. It’s so great that I can diminish its power with self-compassion. I always try to talk to myself with kindness now and although the process is long, I definitely feel a positive change. I’ll never rid of my critic and maybe that’s a good thing because sometimes it does have a good reason to be there, but I now have awareness and more control over it now, and am able to mock and laugh at it when I know it’s being insane.

I can be extremely dishonest, even more so when I was drinking, as I find it impossible for people to know that I’ve done something wrong. I felt like people would judge me if I had made a mistake or I didn’t know something so I used to just lie and say I did, which ironically would land me in way worse situations and be more of a problem for me and others. Being honest in those kind of situations is something I’m finding a lot more natural now that I don’t drink and am working hard to stop being so self-defeating and accepting of flaws/mistakes. Me talking to myself now: ‘hey Kat hunny, it’s not normal to know everything about anything and always do absolutely everything correctly without making any mistakes whatsoever – it’s called being human u silly saus.’ Not knowing something doesn’t make me stupid which is something I taught myself for years.

My passive aggressive behaviour is also very toxic and a coping mechanism I use as a way to indirectly release anger. I’ve never been one to directly show anger and often am passive aggressive in order to avoid talking about anything/ having conflict with anyone. I often keep the anger inside me bottled up deep down and it manages to seep out in some pretty problem habits. I’ve spent years never letting anyone get emotionally close to me and then I resent people for not understanding me. I have an irrational fear of intimacy as that would mean letting someone see my ‘flaws’. I am quickly learning that the only way to connect with someone is to be vulnerable and therefore am having to deconstruct this idea that people would hate me or hurt me if they really knew me. It’s been liberating being a lot more open in my journey of recovery, and it’s something I will continue to work on even if it’s something I still find extremely difficult.

During the worst years of my addiction, I became very selfish and manipulative to those closest to me. Alcohol was the only thing I cared about and so I would manipulate anyone to to make sure I got it. I obviously hid that I was drinking on my own so would lie to feed my addiction. Asking for money being one and I would come up with any excuse to manipulate family members into helping. As the cravings were so bad, I rarely felt guilty that I was doing it. I became extremely defensive. I blamed everyone but myself. I isolated myself so that I didn’t have to be honest about it. I guilt-tripped pretty much everyone into thinking they were responsible for my addiction. I am now so so grateful that I no longer have to manipulate and be dishonest in order to feed my addiction. I no longer have to hate myself for being that person.

Lastly, boundaries. I am learning the importance of them now and the need to create them to form healthy and happy relationships. We had a group session at rehab on Boundaries and everyone was going on about how they just didn’t understand the point of it, which is so laughable and ironic. A group of addicts not understanding boundaries. Who knew. I personally never had many boundaries growing up and therefore find it extremely difficult to understand them in adult life. It led me to being very codependent. I am now able to maintain personal values confidently without bending to what I think others want me to do, and express emotion in a healthy manner. Most importantly, I’ve learnt to say ‘no’ without feeling guilty, which has meant that I now have a higher sense of self and worth. I have learnt to be honest with myself and others about my needs and wants and it’s only been for the better! However, it’s still a work in progress and always will be.

#alocholic #alcoholism #selflove #unlearning #toxictraits #addiction #addict #copingmechanisms #recovery #healthy #behaviour #chef #sobriety #alcoholfree

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