Two Wrongs Don’t Make a Right

Photo by VisionPic .net on Pexels.com

Kids often make very bad choices and do things that are not very smart, especially teen age boys.  This is most definitely the case with my son and he often makes choices that leave me scratching my head for understanding, or just down right angry.

I wish I could say he is the only one making bad choices but that would not be true. I don’t always do the right thing or make the best choices, and definitely NOT when it came to drinking.  So, maybe I am really not acting any better than he is?  Maybe I am not showing up in a way that is supportive enough for him to feel loved or strong enough to say no to stupid decisions.

It is so easy to say things like, “why would you think that was a good idea?” or “why didn’t you say no I am not doing that?” or “stand up for yourself when you know better!”, but maybe as a parent who drank I should be asking myself the same questions.  I knew better, I knew it is not a good idea to drink too much, and I had to learn to stand up to myself or to others and say no to a drink or drinking too much. I knew I should not be drinking so much in front of my kids or around them like I did for years. I knew I was not fully present when they needed me most so how can I say to my son, “make better decisions!” or “think before you do the next wrong thing!”

When and how did I realize two wrongs don’t make a right? 

The scenario where it really hit home for me was when I was drunk and got a call from the police to come get my son.  My son made a bad choice with some friends on this particular Friday night, the what he did, is not really important, but the state I was in was not good either.  Another red flag I was drinking too much, and my son needed me and I was in no shape or a state of mind to help or support him. 

We get a phone call that he and his friends are being held by the police and we need to come and get him. Well, that was the first part of the problem, second part of the problem was me! There was no way I could drive, I had been drinking and thank God I had enough wits about me to know I could not drive myself there to pick him up.  So, in the Lyft we go and pick him up.  When I get there I am frustrated, annoyed and embarrassed because I am not really in any shape to have a conversation with the police.  All in all, there was not a big incident, but my tone and manner with the police on the scene was harsh, short and clipped, which was probably not required.  Why was I that way? Well, short answer is two wrongs don’t make a right.  1) I should not have been that intoxicated 2) I was totally ashamed and embarrassed about the fact that I was drunk and should have been in a better state of mind, sober enough to help my son which led me to you usual reactive state of defensive and angry.  So my tone was clipped,  I became angry with myself, my son and the fact I was not present enough for the situation or to handle it with grace. 

Every time I reflect on that night I am still embarrassed and angry with myself. Now, you might be saying it was not a big deal. It was a Friday night and you were relaxing at home and had a few drinks that is nothing to feel bad about.  But the reality is that if something bad had happened to my son or the other boys he was with I would have been in no condition to support or comfort him.  How would it have looked if I showed up at a police station drunk? Or the hospital drunk?  That is the story on repeat in my head. I can’t imagine how my son would have felt if I would have had to retrieve him from the police station with all the other parents and I was drunk!  Or if I had to come to the hospital if he got injured or one of his friends would have been injured, I would not have been able to comfort him or care for him in the way a mother is supposed. I can only imagine how the other parents would have reacted toward me and where the blame would have fallen in the mix of the kids and who was responsible? My drunk state would have definitely focused blame toward my son and his home life and role models.

So, believe me when I say two wrongs don’t make a right, and sometimes they can end with two very bad “wrongs” which creates an even bigger mess.  These moments of inebriation and being checked out pile up for me like empty bottles in a garbage can and I am trying to figure out the equation for two rights = love and support. I know always being sober is one of the right things for sure.

One thing won’t fix it all

We are always looking for the quick fix, the instant gratification, but we know it really does n’t really exist.  Most things, almost everything takes work, most of the time hard work.  Fixing things is not always easy and can be messy, frustrating and challenging.  If you are like me you avoid those things by looking for the quick fix or just sweeping it under the rug.  I am speaking to emotional things here not the overflowing toilet or the broken toy for my son.  The stuff we try to fix about ourselves or within ourselves. 

For me that is drinking, to start anyway.  I kept telling myself if I fix that everything, else will fix it’s self.  Really? How could I be so naive to believe that if I stopped drinking my marriage would magically get better or my relationship with my children would just instantly be perfect like Leave it to Beaver?

The things I drank over were vast, motherhood, relationships, shame, inability to be perfect, worrying about how other people would treat me or my family, sports, childhood disagreements for my kids, the list goes on and on. But these things to drink at and my feelings were so much deeper I just never took the time to look at them, I would just observe them and then drink them away.  Well, at these that is what I thought. These feelings and worries never went away in fact they began to amplify, and over time become overwhelming to the point I would have so much anxiety It was hard to breathe and I shifted to a shell of myself and a dark place that just kept getting smaller and smaller with what felt like no escape. 

I never really realized that I was drinking to avoid, numb or just live in denial about how things were transpiring in my life and how things were becoming messier and messier due to my drinking and checking out.  I did not really fix things.  I denied they existed, got defensive about them and when asked or confronted I would fly into a rage. I often cried in secret when it all became too much and about what a failure and fuck up I was as a professional, wife, mother and friend. I would drive home from work in the dark and scream at the top of my lungs because I had no outlet accept to drink. Those primal screams were terrifying, crazy and I seriously believed I was starting to loose my mind.  My reality was slipping away and I knew the curtain was coming down on my reality, soon I would truly be found out or I was going to go some place very dark that I was not sure I would be able to come back from.  

When I finally realized that drinking too much was going ruin me and that I was using drinking as way to not really address anything I was terrified of. By that time it was getting out of control and manifesting in very bad ways. Resentment, shame, anger, fear, and failure, worry and most important I think a lack of love or caring about myself or some of those close to me.  The resentment and shame made me more anger, which in turn meant many outbursts, lashing out, blaming others, being mean and hateful. 

My ability to love my boys and husband was getting further and further away from me and I was both terrified and ambivalent at the same time.  Who had I become or should I say who have I always been, this scared little girl who hid from everyone and everything, never letting anyone in so they could not hurt me.  There were moments in time I would have been happy to walk away, free myself from all of their shit and lack of respect for me.  But there was the other side that I knew if I turned my back, I would lose myself forever and devastate the people I loved.  

I stopped drinking twice now for good stretches of time, not years but 3 and 4 months chunks of time and many things changed for the better but new things emerged or became more clear which also terrified me.  

In these periods of time, I became more engaged with my boys and talked with them vs. yelling at them and being impatient.  I could rationalize with them and discuss things to work through them versus huge blowouts and long stretches of hatred and shame.  I would listen to them, most importantly vs. talking at them.  I spent more time with them and was more available. 

Those were the good things.  The other things that emerged were how much I was resentful of my husband and how much I very much hated the way he talked to me and treated me at times.  The verbal noise and disrespect was blurred and far away when I was drinking or caused reactions that were not healthy but when I was not drinking I was able to see things clearly and my responses were not combative or childish.  They were mature, thoughtful and came from a place of clarity and strength.  I would shut down arguments and call him out when he was creating stories or future tripping where before I would spiraled with him and been overly anxious and always worried about why people did not like me, why I was the problem, why I was weak etc.

When I stopped drinking I would be able to shut down unproductive conversations.  I would simply walk away after it had started calling out the fact my husband was telling himself stories or calling him out on his behavior, including a rationale explanation for why it was not right and I wouldn’t stand for it anymore.

I started questioning what I was doing with my life.  What I really wanted to do, who I wanted to be with and how or if I should make different decisions for the future.  I was starting to dive into how I go to this place, how I was not the mother or in the relationship I wanted to be.  You see it all stems back to the things we don’t want to fix or take the time to learn how to fix.  We just look for the quick fix which in my case became drinking. When I was younger I would just pick up and move so I did not have deal with the mess I made in my currently world. I would run away from everything and everyone.  I would blame everyone else and never examine myself.  In all honesty, I did not even know how to look at myself or my behaviors or that learning to love yourself was a thing.  I was what everyone else wanted me to be.  I would move, I would switch jobs, friend groups, anything I could to escape myself but you know the old saying “no matter where you go, there your are looking back at yourself in the mirror.”

I would try to change myself, want I liked, who I liked so that I could move forward.  Never stopping to do the work to fix what was really going within me.  I kept jumping into new relationships and looking for those relationships to take everything away, the fantasy of finding “the one”.  

I would go back to drinking during these two stretches only to realize very quickly things would go right back to the same place, no progress to the me I wanted to become. I would go right back to isolation, just not engaging, checking out completely.  Disappearing quite honestly. And that shook me to my core!

Now that I have sober AGAIN for a good stretch of time, I am trying to do the right work with the right tools.  Even if it leads to hard discussions, choices I am facing them.  I will not rush, or move fast but make very solid and investigated decisions.  I will take the time and re-engage, work my way back to who I want to become and how I want relationships to be, healthy, mature, nurturing, loving and open/honest. 

There are no quick fixes, there are no magic spells, there is only the work that makes us stronger, smarter and more alive.  I am in this for long haul and time is important but this is not a race and I am not looking for instant gratification.  Only love and admiration.

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.