by Rose Lockinger
Most of my life I was afraid of failure. I suffered from the belief that I had to be perfect at everything I did and anything less then perfection was unacceptable. This caused me to go around in my life with unrealistic expectations for the way things should go. I would weigh out every step I took in life with a seriousness that did nothing but hinder my progress and paralyze my ability to move forward and grow. I realized quickly in sobriety that part of learning to live life meant that I was bound to make bad decisions, however those decision did not determine my future rather they were experiments in learning.
The interesting thing about this is that living my life in this manner all but ensured that I would fail. By having to be perfect I would often times not try something because I was afraid that I couldn’t do it, or couldn’t be the best at it and by doing so I failed before I even started. I would put mental roadblocks in my way that I felt would keep me safe, but in reality they just kept me down and kept me living in fear.
This is something that I have heard discussed by many alcoholics and addicts in my time in sobriety— how their lives were a dichotomy of perfection and failure. How the fear that they would fail kept them from truly living and truly succeeding and how once they got sober they had to learn to deal with this.
When I first came into the rooms of recovery of I felt like a complete failure. For all of my attempts to control the outcomes of my life and live in a way that would result in my experiencing the least amount of resistance, I still felt like a total and utter failure.
My marriage had come to an end. I had used drugs and alcohol to the point where I now needed treatment, and my ability to be a mother to my children was painfully lacking. And so I entered into recovery thinking that my biggest fear, being a failure, had been realized.
To a certain extent I was afraid that this feeling was going to follow me for the rest of my life. That because I had “failed” I was bound to repeat the same mistakes over and over again and that there was no way that I could escape what I believed to be my own inadequacies as a human being.
This however, if you haven’t already been able to tell, was completely unfounded and it was nothing but my mind and my disease attempting to keep me down. Every day of my early recovery I struggled with this fear of failure. I struggled with feeling like a complete loser and I struggled with whether or not I was going to be able to overcome my problems. Part of me just wanted to give up, because at that point I didn’t think I was good enough and I didn’t think that I deserved a better life.
Luckily, though I didn’t give up. I pushed on and in doing so I learned one of the most important lessons I have discovered in my life: that failure is never the end of the story but is rather the beginning. That all of the messy feelings and pain that failure brings up for me allows me to learn life lessons about myself that I couldn’t have learned otherwise. In a sense, even though I had been afraid of failure my entire life, it became one of my greatest teachers and one of my greatest accomplishments.
That last part might sound be a bit strange, but it is true. If I wouldn’t have used drugs and alcohol to the point where I completely destroyed my life I don’t think that I would be sitting here typing this out at this very moment. I would not have been introduced to God in the manner that I was and I would not have taken to a life of sobriety in the way that I have. I probably would still be out there somewhere, totally lost and afraid to admit it to anyone. I would probably have just wandered through life unaware that there was a better way.
Getting sober wasn’t the only time that failure has been my teacher, or has been a new beginning for me though. I have noticed many times throughout my sobriety that what I deemed to be a failure was often times a blessing in disguise. That often times having failed, lead me to something entirely new, whether it be a greater understanding of how my mind works, or a deeper appreciation for the things I have, but each failure has been a lesson that I needed to learn, and truthfully I probably couldn’t have learned those lessons any other way.
I have also noticed that my failures have in many cases turned into my greatest assets. For instance I was never really able to be honest in the past. I seemed to have an almost pathological need to not tell the truth and as you can probably guess this caused a tremendous amount of trouble in my life. But as my lies piled up on top of each other and eventually led to my undoing, I learned a valuable lessons from this, and today, while I am not 100% honest, I am able to share honestly with other about what is going on with me and I do my best to tell the truth.
So while I am not completely free from my fear of failure and sometimes I still get paralyzed thinking that I am going to choose the wrong path or do the wrong thing and everything is going to come tumbling down, I at least understand that there is nothing in life that I can’t learn from, or can’t come back from. I sunk lower in my addiction than most normal people ever go and yet today I am not a broken woman. My addiction didn’t totally ruin me and since that is the case, I know that no failure is too large for me to overcome, and no lesson to large for me to learn.
Rose Lockinger is passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.