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.

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!