Out of the Rabbit Hole: A Follow-up to “The Critic Who Counts”

The most important thing to remember is that no one is perfect. 

I love a good over the top, knee jerk reaction. The kind where you go down the petty rabbit hole as deep as you can. Sometimes, instead of diving down that hole of despair, you launch onto the fools battleground and take on anything and anyone standing within arms reach of your wrath. We’ve all been there. Hell, I’ve been there more times than I’d like to admit. How embarrassing is it when the shades of red slowly fade from your eyes and you start to see clear again? The horror you feel when you realize that, yes, you just said that to your mother/sister/boss/friend. 

Yikes! 

We’ve been on the receiving end. We’ve been on the giving end. For some reason, it feels just as good to release the wrath as it does to bitch and complain about the person who just released a wrath upon you. It’s addicting; this destructive cycle.Likely, one of the hardest cycles to break. 

This year has taught us many things. For me, the biggest take away is learning how to respond rather than react. It’s a lot easier to do now that I’m sober and clear headed. Where as before, if someone sent me a crappy text or someone pissed me off after 5pm – you got Vodka Hannah. She was funny sometimes, but boy was she petty. 

I’m still petty. My best friend Catrina will tell you that. But I’m at a place now where I’m consciously aware that I should pause, breathe and respond rather than react. Still not perfect – giving it a strong effort though. 

My blog “The Critic Who Counts” was rather shocking to a large number of people.I have never openly spoken about my struggles with drugs and alcohol before. I’m well known as a coach and a marathon swimmer and “how could she do that”. Well, it was pretty easy. 

First of all, I haven’t abused medication since college. I had a pretty big scare that set me straight on that one. Second, my alcohol abuse has always been lurking in the shadows. I’ve been loosely managing it in my professional career thus far. But, it was the pandemic and the isolation at home that sent my lurking demon into overdrive. I could drink as much as I wanted and fall asleep at 7pm because I was waking up at 4:30am to go train. My 6am swims would sober me up, I’d get coffee, head home and start my work day sitting in bed on my laptop. I’d get bored or restless around 2pm and pour myself a drink. It became my own little cocktail hour and no one knew. 

I was getting my work done. No one was complaining. No one could smell the vodka or even see it. It was the perfect disguise. Plus with the time difference between Chicago, Florida and California, by the time I was good and drunk, all of my friends and family weren’t available to talk – so they didn’t know either. 

Essentially, what I was doing was reacting to my circumstances in the pandemic. My knee jerk reaction was to drown it out. Truth is, I was miserable. I was far, far away from home. Far away from family and friends. I was confined to my room because my roommate was a total weirdo. So I drank a lot of vodka. A lot. It wasn’t helping. 

I broke down one day when talking to Catrina and she urged me for the 100th time to call her therapist, Bob. I blew it off a few times and finally I hit that bottom rung of the ladder that I talked about in the other blog. I hit that bottom rung and who was there to lift me up? Catrina. She gave me the gift of Bob. Through conversations with him I decided that sobriety was the right answer for me. I didn’t realize it at the time but Bobs expertise is working with addicts. He has been the biggest blessing in my life this year. Therapy is healing and I encourage everyone to seek a therapist.

So now I have finally begun to respond to my circumstances. The days of the knee jerk reaction and tumbling into the petty party are not long gone. They still happen from time to time but now I’m armed with the tools to start to respond rather than jump into a battleground. The vodka filter has been permanently put onto the shelf. I’ve significantly cut down the “oh shit did I just say that” moments and I’m replacing them with compassion and forgiveness. Onwards and upwards I climb, out of the rabbit hole.

This is a follow up to my guest blog that I penned for Catherine Breed’s blog “Beyond the Black Line” – to read the original post, click here.

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