Drinking was always a way of undermining any self-respect for myself that I had. Drink too much and do or say something stupid = shame. Wake up the next morning not really knowing what you had done or said because you couldn’t remember = some more shame.
Shame + more shame x multiple occasions = crushed self-esteem & self-respect.
Now my self-esteem and respect is slowly picking itself up off the floor but writing the post about how much I drank reminded me just how fragile it still is. For a person who likes to be liked over-sharing can be as self-sabotaging as keeping everything to yourself as I found to my peril when I prematurely opened my mouth about my Guardian article. The anxiety it provoked almost derailed my sobriety.
I am 4 months sober today and it has taken me that long to shine the light of truth in the darkest and most shameful of corners of my past drinking exploits and before I felt able to share on this blog the truth about my consumption habits. I was extremely anxious about putting it out here but your responses proved to me that I was safe.
Equally it can be dangerous to choose to share with the wrong person. If they are not supportive and understanding of your journey their failure to appreciate the brevity of the situation can cause enough shame to tip you back to your old ways or may convince you that your problem isn’t that bad and set you back on the drinking path either way. Those thoughts crossed my mind again today. This response has happened to me and I had to remind myself that they were ‘projecting their shadows’ (Carl Jung) about their drinking not mine. They felt it was important that I drank alcohol free beer around other people so that it didn’t make them feel uncomfortable about their drinking. My stopping drinking was compared to finding God, and as one of a group of secular friends, this was felt by me as intended as an insult, although by sharing this I wish to cause no offense to anyone about their religious beliefs.
It’s interesting in that you start to get your self-respect back and are happy about where you are and some people who laughed at your shameful drinking antics now try to shame you for your non-drinking non-antics.
4 months today 🙂
Edited to add: the Guardian does it again! This piece is running today and my favourite bits are:
There are lots of people who aren’t full blown addicts but who do struggle to do things in moderation – whether it’s booze, cigarettes, sex, drugs or Nutella (or in my case, all of the above). Substances that are addictive are inherently difficult to consume in moderation. That’s what “addictive” means. In fact, when you encourage someone who’s struggling with an addictive substance to do it in moderation, what you’re also saying is “Hey, you know that stuff that makes you want more and more as soon as you have a bit? Yeah, just have a bit!” It’s not helpful to tell someone to have “just” a little alcohol if they’re struggling with it.
So when you run into a friend who is abstaining completely, whether temporarily for a good start to the New Year or for the long-term, remember it’s not a commentary on your drinking and nobody is trying to ruin anyone’s fun. Be supportive and treat it as a completely legitimate, if not necessary, alternative for those people for whom moderation is not an option.