Why Ya Gotta Be So Mean!

We all go through life and encounter people who are just not very nice.  It is enviable I guess, although I often wonder why people need to be so mean.  As an adult we learn to understand why people may come across as unfriendly, rude, stand-offish and the ultimate in your face down right mean.  We know these people maybe very insecure, have terrible home lives, are full of shame or just need to make others feel bad to make themselves feel better.

With all those things in mind I am still perplexed and bewildered why adults, who should know better, act like spoiled crazy ass brats! I guess we live in an age where people don’t need to know one another or make new friends.  Everyone judges everyone before they even know anything about them, either by making their own judgements because someone may not look the same as they do, or live the same way they do.  Then, there are those who judge based on what they have heard from others and just want to be part of a click.  Watch out the click is very fast to turn on you if you make a mis-step.

I have really been pondering all the reasons why people are unfriendly and down right rude or mean.  I have seen and experienced this lately with my kids and our family.  I try to be the person who does not judge, or make fast impressions and give people time to warm up.  I am not in race or need to impress others and seek out friendships that are real and honest.  I don’t need to be friends with everyone nor is that my goal as I know it is for some.  Give me a few good friends and all is good!

So how do we maintain good examples for our children when they encounter mean people? How do we stay strong and maintain a good face when adults are mean to us, whether they are judging us or hearing things from others about us.  When people turn their backs, don’t talk to you or wave how do we not get sucked into their swirl? Especially when you secretly drink too much and are riddled with anxiety, shame and self loathing. This combination of hatred from the inside and outside can be enough to send anyone into swirl that may not be possible to get out of.

I am adult women who has amazing career, traveled the world, been a friend to many, a good mom and wife.  I pride myself on helping others and being there for them when they need help or someone to listen.  So how it is that more and more I find people who are not friendly, “don’t need any new friends” and basically don’t care if you exist and make that very obvious. They don’t like you because of jealous about you, kids, kids abilities at sports, or the perception of more money. This list goes on and on.

If I told you that it did not bother me I would be lying. I find it hurtful, mean and so “high school” to be honest.  I will not apologize for not being just like them, or look like them. We all choose different paths in life.  No judgement here I proclaim, but damn people there is no need to make someone feel like dirt or less than because they don’t conform to your made up model! 

When these types of behaviors happen to my children I try so hard to remain strong and help them through “be the bigger person”, “rise above it”, “understand that it really is not about you.”  But damn, I just want to squash those other kids and parents for their mean, hateful and irresponsible behavior.  I am dying on the inside while trying to hold it together for my children who don’t understand what they did wrong or how to maneuver through the mob mentality that is trying to take them down or lock them out.

So how does this relate to the topic of drinking?

Well, think about what happens when you mix the external negative forces with the internal negative forces. It becomes an incredible force that literally traps you in a shame spiral and a state of panic, anxiety, and self hatred. You doubt everything about yourself, you begin to believe you can’t do anything right, you’re so afraid of more daggers being throw in your direction OR that they will catch on to the fact you’re drinking way too much and turn up the hatred and badmouthing.  

Literally, for the past 10 years or more, this has been my life and the absolute pain and isolation that comes with not only the addiction and paranoia. Our addictive brains make these outside forces of the mean and hateful things, so much bigger and all consuming as we can differentiation the reality from our distorted view of what people are doing to each other to earn some perceived space in society.  Bringing everyone else down to raise themselves up.

Now that I am not numbing and hiding any longer, I am facing these bad circumstances and working very hard to be present and provide clear guidance for my children.  It still hurts and my heart gets broken more often than not, but I will take every dagger they throw at me just to ensure I raise a child who can stand own his own two feet and earn his spot in life.  I truly hope our society can grow and move forward to care about each other vs. running over people to get their perceived place in life. It is like my mother always told me, “you never know what goes on behind closed doors.”  

Although I continue to keep my door open even though it exposes me to the draggers of others I am showing my children the right way to treat people.

Such a dark place for children to grow up in these days but at least my children have a sober mom.

No Cool-aid Here!

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a friend to many, daughter, mother, professional, wife. I used to be person with very questionable drinking behaviors. In other words a lush, a person who could not stop drinking, manic and most often bat shit crazy. My life became crushingly small and I began to fade away into a very dim place.

I would crush it at work, fail miserably at home and try everyday to figure out how to make it better. But I continued to drink the cool-aid, just like when I was a kid. Sugary goodness that we all knew was rotting our teeth and making us crazy hyper but we drank it anyway.

Cool-aid was a treat as a kid, then for me wine became the cool-aid of my adult life, it was still sugary and sweet but it was taking more from me than my teeth!

For me “cool-aid” is not just about the wine. It is about all the norms we hold ourselves to even when we know better. How to dress, act, who to be friends with, how to be a mom or the good wife. You name it! I was drinking the Cool-aid about all of it but not anymore.

I stopped drinking and starting thinking about how I needed to find my spark again and stop drinking the god damn Cool-aid!

Come along for the ride on my the journey of sobriety, finding myself (again?) and living life with all the ups, downs and in between.

Fake It To You Make It

Fake it to you make it was a saying my old boss used to say and it always made me chuckle.  The saying was always referring to work and used when we did not know something or total understand something new or different.  We were both obviously very smart people but there were the times when we would have to take on new programs, teams or work that was really new and we would have to work hard  to really understand it to make good decisions.  If I was nervous about it or did not how I would present information she would always reassure me with a quick “fake it to you make it” comment and we would both laugh, lifting the worry or anxiety around whatever it was we were trying to figure out or explain to others.  

We never really meant “fake it” as in just fake what you really know and don’t know.  We always dug in and figured it out. We always took the time to study, learn, interview and dive into the right level of detail to support our people and teams.  It was not a cop out, more of a way to get over the worry and acknowledge we were smart and did not have to be afraid.

I tell you this story because I was faced with an invitation last night to visit with my neighbors, super nice people who are very out going and our sons are very good friends.  We live really close to each other and I wanted to get to know them better.  

We are new to our neighborhood, which is very social, and they know everyone so I thought it a good idea to go over and visit. They asked me over for a margarita.  Yes this is were the puberal needle scratched across the record and brought me to a halt.  CRAP! I want to go! CRAP! I can’t go! CRAP! How will I explain why I am not drinking? CRAP! CRAP!

So I texted her back to say I was waiting for pizza for the kids and one other thing.  Then I started pacing and wondering if I could go over and just not drink? But then I thought what if they think I am a prude, uptight and not “like them”? Would they put me in the “not fun neighbor” bunch?

I know your are thinking “what the fuck are you doing”? No, is a complete sentence right?  Well, right or wrong, I was not truly thinking of myself but my son.  He is such good friends with the boy next to us and all the other boys they hang out with.  I was worried they would not include him or not invite him or us to parties or boating etc.  I just did not want my “problem” to become his or impede him from friendships or a full life in any way.  I am not saying they would do this at all! It was the story I was telling myself, on repeat in the moment. Whether it was really ever going to come true or not it was the story in my head.

So I started mapping the scenarios for myself about how I could go over and not drink but make it look like I was drinking.  “Fake it to you make it, right?”  Well, I had several scenarios in mind.

  1. Bring a drink with me so I could say, “I’m good I brought something with me”.
  2. Bring a drink with just a tiny splash of something in it just in case they ask what it is and I could feel like I had taken the edge off.
  3. Don’t bring anything and say, “just making a quick pit stop” as the boys are having friends over and I can’t leave them for too long.
  4. If they ask me if I want a drink or a refill I just say, “Na I have to get up early tomorrow to get some work done before the kids get up.”
  5. Just say it is too late tonight and I have kids here but next time for sure.

Ok, you must be thinking that is a lot of time spent on thinking about how not to drink! Yes, it was and I knew it and still know it.  And I know better! I know it should not matter if I drink or not for people to like me. I know I can fake it to save my sobriety and I know I can just say, “No”. No to coming over, no to a drink, no to thinking too much about whether or not I have to drink to be friends with people.  I know all of things.  

There are some many times when we can over think or beat ourselves up about this drinking thing.  I know we need to protect ourselves and our sobriety and make good decisions in order to keep it. 

This story and scenario is real and happens all the time for people new or at shaky points in their sobriety. So what was my choice from the list above?  Not the right one but one I learned a lot from this scenario and how to be stronger, wiser and to fake it until I make it. 

I learned many lessons and better tools from this experience.  I learned to fake it.  I learned I can still go and give myself permission to say no thanks to a drink and to change the subject. “Want a margarita?” “No thanks, hey catch me up on what has been going on with you guys.” “ What’s up with the boys?”  Basically, changing the subject and moving on to a different topic to take the focus off the drink.  Or I can bring my own “cocktail” or cup with fizzy water so they will not even question whether or not you want a drink cause I have one in my hand.  “Want a refill?” “No, that’s ok I have an earlier day tomorrow so I am taking it easy tonight.”  

All these answers and actions are so easy right?  Well, that night I did not use my tools and did not keep to my story I was afraid and anxious they would not like me or my son if I did not come over with a drink – with a splash  in it to take the edge off or have a refill margarita with them.  So I did both of those things.  Both wrong, both I regret. 

I half beat myself up over it and half felt I learned a very great lesson.  I can fake it to I make it and no one will really question me or ask me to drink.  I can show up empty handed or with a drink in my hand that does not have alcohol in it and no one will know the wiser.  I realized they really did not care whether I had a drink in my hand or not.  We had a great conversation with tons of laughter, talked about getting together with our families, all things I wanted to happen.

The peer pressure we have felt while growing up to fit in and be liked does not go away as an adult.  We are creatures that crave connections and for those of us who don’t drink we can give ourselves permission to “Fake it to we make it” in order to learn how to navigate fostering connections.  We can give ourselves permission to pick the right answers from the list above.  Go and bring your own drink without the alcohol of course. Go and just make it a quick pit stop with the caveat you have something going on that you have to get back. Don’t go and politely say next time.  These and many other suggestions can be your choices.  You don’t have to give in like I did because I was wondered about what they would think of me or how much they would or would not relate to me and want to be better friends.  

The point is they will either like you or they won’t sober and you can fake it you make it with no harm, no foul done to move past the initial “get to know you better” scenarios.

I have learned a valuable lesson and added tools to my toolbox from this scenario.  One, I am sure I will face over and over again.  I share this story for those of you faced with similar experiences. Do what is right for you and your sobriety.   “Fake it to you make it” with the definition of I am learning, growing and figuring it out as I go. Or just don’t go.  Just make the choice about you and what it best for you and your boundaries.

The Art of Stop, Not Stopping

It is funny to me, but not in a funny haha way, why trying to stop drinking is and has been so hard.  I understand the addict part of it and the fact it is a diversion mechanism but still why is it so hard.  I guess the saying is true old habits die hard.  There have been so many times I have said to myself, “stop, what are you doing?” or “just stop what is your problem?”  I really can’t say why I continued to make an art out of not stopping but I am finally doing the digging to get to the bottom of it.  

In the current times, which are quite strange, one would think we need to be as clear and as present as possible.  Be ready to make good choices, and be present to keep our kids strong, healthy and not afraid, during these very uncertain times that are very strange to say the least.  But yet the cycle continued. For me, I call it the art of stop, not stopping, because I would come up with a million reasons why I still needed to drink or pretended why I was not stopping.  I continue to use my inner voice and my writing to train my brain and propel myself forward to learn new paths, but some how I typically ended up back on the path of stop, not stopping.

I really can’t say it is a cyclic thing, but then again maybe it is and I just don’t see it that way.  If I break it down, it starts with the voice inside telling me to stop, clean up your act.  Then rationalizing why this so hard or why it is ok to continue to drink, even when I see the progression and the absolute pursuit of numbing out to blacking out.  I am so tired of not remembering things the next day or being worried I was a bitch the night before in some drunken swirl again.  

So what makes up the art of stop, not stopping?

For me it is denial, shame, unhappiness, depression and inadequacy, that I believe creates the perfect canvas for my art of stop, not stopping.  I can name any one or more of these contributors and bring them to the forefront so that I will isolate, numb out and dissolve into nothing so that I don’t have to deal with life or the reality of the day, whatever day that may be.  My art of not stopping is one of mastering the ways of avoidance, shaping shifting and disillusionment and so begins the subtle pop of the cork, the very specific placement the bottle out of sight, the casual refill after refill and all the while slipping away. 

For me the art of stop, not stopping drinking is was wall.   I could get close to the wall, I could even at times get up the wall and stand on top of the wall but then I would fall right back down on the same side of the wall.  I believe in order to change the art of stop, not stopping I need to break through the wall. That my friends will be the key to the art of stopping for me! It is working so far but many you just don’t know how many times I kept trying to climb that wall!

And Then I Woke Up

Not sure my title here will support all my thoughts for this posting but here it goes. I woke up after another night of fitful sleep due to drinking and determined I needed to stop drinking and start diving into many of the current problems in my life that were making me drink.

Reasons for current drinking?

  1. FOMO – FOMO can go to hell. I know where the train is headed and just because the people I am stewing about are behind me does not mean I know know where they are headed.
  2. Dissolve versus resolve. I just want to slip away and not really resolve some of the very hurtful things that are being done to my family and my child right now. So instead of addressing it, I spin up stories, drink to escape because I can not control it.
  3. Need to be found or perhaps rediscovered. I love to make people happy and don’t put myself first. So, I am tossing and turning about how I need to be better, different but basically just WAKE UP and stop numbing/blacking out over every little thing I can’t fix. I want to rediscover myself and not be lost in some puddle on the floor.

My shame and loathing over drinking is just so disgusting and I am done. So, tired of hiding, dissolving and erasing with alcohol.

And then I woke up figuratively, and literally! Ready to make better choices, decisions and starting seeking help and not hiding.

I am good enough, I am worth it. So when I wake up tomorrow it will be with clarity, inquiry, and motivation to do better for myself and my family.

Back in Black

Then fast forward to a few years ago my husband and I were having a lot of parties at our house, kids swimming and adults have fun but then my husband would talk about something someone said, or a conversation from the night before, and I would have to fake the fact that I remembered it.  When in fact, did not recall the conversation or the remark.  I did not remember what was said or when people left.  I would not remember putting my kids to bed or conversations we had had together from the night before. It started to scare me and made me really question if I was losing my memory, Alzheimer’s potentially, but I did not really know that what I was experiencing were black outs.

I never really connected the amount of alcohol I was drinking to the fact I could not remember things.  I would wake up and have to lay there trying to piece together the night before and this was happening a lot! It was beginning to frighten me and make me begin to think that I might need to stop drinking. Finally, I connected the dots or maybe just got real with myself for once, about the fact my drinking was getting worse.

I did not want to live this way, not remembering things, not being there for my kids, not being present with my friends and family.  I did stop drinking for two months and I noticed how much I remembered and how present I was with my family.  But of course then I thought I was cured and could drink again and very quickly I was back in the black again.   

I drank for a while again, then quitting again for 4.5 months and life was great.  I was getting strong, healthy, rational and empowered but made a decision to have a drink at a party and threw it all away.  And by the way, that very night I drank to excess and did not remember most of the evening.  There I was again, back in the black.  Black outs that is!

As I tried to quit and shrink the number of nights I don’t remember the end or going to bed were still growing so I knew I needed to get real, get strong, and bring back the light.  

I am embarrassed of myself as I write this but once the words on the page you can’t take them back. I am embarrassed I keep going back to the thing that makes me numb, less present and ashamed.  When the clarity about what I have to do is so strong I know what I have to do to take back the light and live in the black anymore.

Living in the light is so much better!

The Struggle Is Real And The Time Is Right

Getting off the hamster wheel can be hard, tricky and a general pain in the ass.  The level of frustration, shame and general disgust of my lack of self control.  I know better, I am better, and I am sensing others are catching on to my behaviors.  This frightens me and I am afraid I am setting a bad example for my boys.

So, how do you slow the hamster wheel down enough to jump off? Cause you know if you just jump off, you will jump right back on.  And once you slow it down how do you ensure you don’t look for another hamster wheel to start a new cycle of destruction.  

Every once in a while the hamster wheel slows enough that you realize you don’t have to remain there and you feel amazing, strong, you immediately know the difference so why not just stay off the hamster wheel?

Lack of tools? Lack of self control? Insecure? The mess of everything around us too big to take in? For me it is all of these things.  It is seriously time to get the hell off the hamster wheel for good or I am going to trip and fall way too far down to ever get off.

So, how do you know the time is right? When do you make that call and then hold yourself to it?  I don’t know the right answer but for me the mess in the mirror is getting just too much to take. The lines I said I would not cross are becoming more and more blurry and inside myself – deep inside – I know the time is right.  The nagging in my soul and in my heart are getting too much to bear and the mess too big to clean up by myself.

The time is right when even you know you are bit too far gone and you see a look from someone who loves you and you know they are afraid and they are not sure how to look at you anymore.  That was the signal that my time was up! Enough was enough, now I am trying to figure out how I stay the hell away from the hamster wheel but I know what to do, when to reach out and how to move forward.

I just keep remember that look and how my soul cried out to me and said just STOP!

It Is Just One Simple Choice

Honestly, it all seems so simple you just don’t stop at the store, you just don’t worry about where you are going to be able to drink or get more.  It really is not that hard. It can be as easy as knowing the fact I would not drink bleach or rat poison. So why am I making such a big deal about buying and drinking alcohol when I know it is one simple choice to say no?  

It really is a simple choice to say no, not today.  Really, it is that simple but yet so hard.  I know it is addictive and that is part of the reason it is so hard to say no.  But if we look at like any other bad choices, like not dating a guy we know is bad for us, or choosing friends that make good choices, it should be so simple. 

We look at the weather before we walk out the door to know which coat to where shoes to wear, and we know not to walk alone in the dark in a strange neighborhood. So why is it so hard to just not buy or drink alcohol?

Addiction is a nasty, dark beast that makes us all do the worst things and make bad choices.  We know this as we suffer through the hang overs, off-the-chart anxiety and overwhelming, crippling shame.

So, how do we stop, stopping at the store or buying alcohol? We make plans, try new routes home, stop going to events or keeping patterns of activity that trigger drinking or the thought of drinking.  We play the tape all the way through and visualize the bad, ugly and chaos that ensues once we start and can’t stop.

It works if we just make one simple choice to stop. Change it up and more importantly find support.  I can’t say I have all the answers but I know by putting these words down I making the choice to move in the right direction and can help support you too.

Famous Last Words

How many times have I said the words, “I am not going to drink tonight!” OR “I am not going to stop at the store on the way home tonight.” Then my all time favorite, “I am not drunk!” Of course I was drunk 90% of the time when I would say that in response to my husband and if I was not drunk I was well on my way to getting there.  

So many famous last words for those of us who drank.  Yes, I said drank because for me I wanted my famous last words to be, “I can’t wait to get home to my family.” OR “Hey do you want to watch tv with me or do you want me to read a book to you.”  I wanted to surprise everyone in my family when they were going to the movies or store and I would want to come with them.  These things did not really happen for many years before as chose to isolate myself to hide my secret.  

My famous last words and my drinking became infamous in many ways.  I did not have to worry about famous last words, because I was to the point where I did not even really want to have lengthly conversations or be around many people to say any famous last words.  Not to mention perhaps slurrying my famous last words for that particular evening.

Life is made up of moments, messages and finally words many, many words, that can either hurt or heal people.  My new famous last words are the ones that heal me and help others.  Honestly, I don’t know what all my new famous last words will be each day or each night but they won’t be, “I am not Drunk! 

I will drive past the store, I will stay sober and maybe, just maybe I just told you my most famous last words.

Goodbye Old Friend

We all have had that great girl friend, you know the one you spend all your time with. The one you laugh harder around. The one you tell everything and know it goes to the grave with her.  That great girl friend who has been with you through thick and thin.  No matter the good, the bad and the ugly there she is to help, to listen and give you advice. 

However, sometimes those great relationships turn toxic.  We all have had that relationship with a friend that has gotten too intense and you knew it was time to take some time off, but while taking that time off, you realize you just need to walk away cause that friendship is truly toxic.

In my case my best friend is not a great girl who totally gets me or that awesome gay man who is great to party with.  My bestie has been wine for many years and let me tell you this friend is no friend at all.  It did not matter if it was the box or the bottle(s) – yes I said bottles.  My friend was with me everywhere but mostly she kept me home, alone and avoiding people like my friends and my family. 

My best friend totally took over my life and I had to say good-bye to my best friend.  And just like losing that person who you thought was wonderful but then turned toxic, you can’t walk away, you can’t let go.  You stop calling or texting but they don’t and it is hard to turn away from that friend and for me that was the bottle of wine. 

I could not drive past the store on the way home, I could not just walk past the aisle in the grocery store without picking her up, my old dear friend.  I could tell MY best friend anything but really there was no to talk about except me telling myself this friend is just not good for me and it was me not “her” that was the problem. And part of that is true, it was about me and my need for this friendship or lack there of in such a desperate way.

Why not just walk away? Well easier said than done – who would I drink with, how would I function, who would I tell my darkest secrets to? The truth was I needed her way more than she needed me and that made it hard to walk away.  Life was passing me by and I needed to break away from my dear friend before she killed me!  

When I threw out the last two bottles of wine I drank, I said good bye to my toxic best friend.  Out she went and I miss her everyday less and less and I know she is not good for me and I am a better person without her everyday.

Goodbye old friend but it is time for you to go.  I have outgrown you. I have bigger and better things to do – called life!