Fear is something that I truly believe compelled me to drink, use drugs, diet myself into oblivion, workout in excess, stay friends or in relationships with people who suck, and all kinds of other behaviors that weren’t great for me or my wellbeing. Fear is the thread that weaves its way through most of my life and links all of my worst behaviors and decisions together.
Growing up, I was always afraid I wasn’t enough. I have no idea where this idea came from – most likely a combination of messages received from my parents and the media. I watched my mom hate her body since before I can remember, and I watched my dad live in the personal hell that is perfectionism for just as long. Both of these traits I inherited, and both sets of beliefs transferred into “you’ll never be enough” in my still-developing and very impressionable brain.
When I found alcohol, it was like I had been handed the magic elixir labeled “you are enough now.” The more I drank, the better I felt. The freer I was. The more power I had. The less I gave a f*ck about what anyone else thought. For a brief few, highly intoxicated hours, I was finally enough. And when you’ve spent your whole life living under the less-than rock, this is the most seductive and empowering feeling you can experience.
Unfortunately, alcohol abuse turned into alcohol addiction, and addiction is nothing if not fear in the form of a legitimate disease. Fear that you’ll have to be sober for an event if there isn’t enough alcohol. Fear that your spouse will find out you’ve been drinking again. Fear that your friends will know you have a problem. Fear you won’t be able to stop. Fear that when you do stop, you’re life will be over. The more alcohol I drank, the more fearful I became. Because I never really learned how to cope with my not-enoughisms. I just learned how to mask it. And when you mask something like that for years, it ain’t pretty when you finally lift off the veil.
When I stopped drinking, I had to learn how to face my fear of not being enough in a big way. Because if I didn’t, I would drink again. It was as simple as that. I had found the cure to my problem, and then I had taken that cure away. The problem was still there, and it still hurt. I wanted more than anything to numb out and run from all the things I felt I wasn’t good enough at or for. But I didn’t. And here’s what I learned by toughing it out:
No one is judging you as critically as you judge yourself – This one is common sense, but for some reason is so hard to grasp on a gut level. Literally no one is holding you to a higher standard than you do, and no one is judging you to any degree that you judge yourself. Even your worst enemies are nicer in their judgments of you than you are. That’s not great for personal morale. Ease up on yourself, sis. You’re a pretty great person, and right now everyone can see that except you.
No one is perfect, and no one expects you to be – Look around the room. Is anyone you see perfect? Didn’t think so. Now go into a big crowd. How about there? Nope, still no perfect humans. What about that Instagram model who you believe in your core is the epitome of perfection? I guarantee she doesn’t look half as good without all those filters, and even if she does she still f*cks up on a regular basis. Just like every other human on this planet. Just like you. You’re not perfect, but here’s the kicker: You don’t have to be. And, no one is expecting you to be. So stop comparing yourself to an absolutely unrealistic standard.
You’re already pretty good – When I was finally able to pause the “I’m not good enough” tape long enough to catch a breath and take in my surroundings, I realized that I was actually pretty good already. Sure, I had some bruises and regrets from drinking myself into oblivion for years, but other than that I discovered that I was actually a pretty decent human. Try to freeze your “I’m not good enough” thoughts for a few minutes and give yourself the chance to truly assess yourself at that moment. You’ll find you’re actually just fine and, compared to most people, you’re better than fine.
The life you’ve always wanted is right beyond the “I’m not good enough”s – I had lived by this mantra for so long that I didn’t realize there was another way of existing. But there is, and it’s so freaking awesome.
No feeling lasts forever, and most don’t last a day – This is true for many feelings but it’s especially true for fear. The more you sit with your fear and embrace it, the faster it goes away. But, if you deny it and drown it out with alcohol, the longer it lingers.