Monday, 8 June 2015

Introspection

Day 99.

Thank you so much for your comments on my horribly self indulgent post yesterday (see Feeling Down. Fighting the Witch).

I'm a little embarrassed about the fact that many of you are dealing with bereavement, divorce, redundancy and other proper problems, and I'm getting my knickers in a twist about not being invited to a party!

I received a hugely kind and perceptive e-mail from a reader who pointed out that whilst we gear ourselves up for the trials and tribulations we are expecting (like drinks parties), it's the unexpected small things that can catch us unawares.

So, yesterday, instead of just pouring a few drinks and forgetting about my trivial upset, I dealt with it in a proper, grown up way (once I'd finished sulking, throwing my toys out of the metaphorical pram and blogging petulantly). I thought about it long and hard. And I came to the conclusion that....

.....I'm bloody lucky I get invited to anything, all things considered.

You see, drinking makes us (or me, at least) horribly self centred. After a few drinks I only ever wanted to talk about myself. I had to be the centre of attention. If I didn't already know someone, or think they looked particularly interesting, I wouldn't bother talking to them.

I think I got away with this horrible behaviour for years by being the proverbial 'life and soul of the party', but as my alcohol tolerance grew I'd morph very quickly from 'life and soul' to 'boorish drunk'.

I never got overtly drunk (which is how I was able to get away with it for so long). I never fell over, vomited or caused arguments. But I would tell the same (dull) story several times. Forget people's names. Fail to introduce people to each other. Neglect to ask people anything about their own lives.

I confess that, more than once, at a dinner party I would totally ignore the person on one side because I found the man on the other more interesting and couldn't be bothered.

I have not been a very nice person. At all.

I was thinking about what people would say about me if I was knocked over by a bus tomorrow. They might talk about my past career success. About the fact that I sang in ABBA's backing group as a child (yes, really). That, despite myself, I managed to raise 3 extraordinary children.

What they wouldn't say is that I was the first person they'd turn to for help. They wouldn't talk about how I made them feel like the most important person in the room. Or that I'd made a huge difference to anyone's life. They might say that I was a great laugh - until suddenly I wasn't any more.

Frankly, I was far too busy thinking about myself and staring into the bottom of a glass of Chablis.

In yesterday's Times, Alistair Campbell wrote that he was fed up with hearing that Charles Kennedy 'could have been a truly great politician' but for his drinking. Campbell (also an alcoholic) argued that Charles's battles with drink, his frailties, foibles and vulnerability, were what gave him the humanity and compassion for which he was so well loved.

Anne posted something similar in a comment on this blog. She wrote 'those of us who are able to break the chains - however rusted or gilded they may be - are some of the strongest, most inspiring people in the world'.

I have realised that now is the time for me to make sure that people can talk about me in that way. About my humanity, compassion, strength and inspiration, not just my ability to tell a (bad) joke at a party.

I am going to focus on being a really good person. Kind. Thoughtful. Selfless. It's time to grow up, SoberMummy.

(And perhaps I'll start being invited to parties again).

Love to you all,

SM x


8 comments:

  1. I wasn't nice either. I suspect I have been left off party invitations too. Try and remember that it wasn't you! You made a very eloquent argument that alcohol addiction is not a failing on your part - it's the ALCOHOL! So don't beat yourself up! Just celebrate this one day from 100, that you saw the light, and you are back to your old self - the good person you always were xx

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    1. Hurrah for all us (ex) bitches WB!

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  2. I expect I wasn't the nicest person either. So self involved. Although I would have bent over backwards to convince you to like me and that I was a fun person.

    The truth? What others think of us is none of our business. My personal motivation is kindness and compassion. I try to use this in all areas of my life. My husband laughs, and worries I will be taken advantage of, but he recognizes that it has made me happy. To see the good in things first. To feel like I am making a difference.

    If people feel that positive flow from me that's great. If not, I can't make them like me. Whenever I try it feels wrong. I need to be true to me.

    There are lots of people in the world. Don't let a few meanies bring you down!

    Anne

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    1. I am going to repeat 'kindness and compassion' to myself 100 times every morning and evening!

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  3. I did just write my first ever comment - only to manage to delete it!! So here's shorter version.. I have read your posts from start to finish over a two day period. In that context - seeing your journey to your 100th day - the lack of invite to a party is just a blip! You've made your own virtual party of followers and supporters. Well done - I will raise a glass of sparkling water with ice and a twist of lime to your monumental achievement. Well done - you have really earned it.

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    1. Welcome vida! I can't believe you read the whole lot! That's very brave of you! I raise a AF beer back atchya. Hugs xx

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  4. I suspect that alcohol made us not very nice people. I cringe when I think of some of my behaviour whilst drinking.
    We can't change our past, but we can change the present. So that is what I'm trying to do, Be a better person today.
    Congrats on day 99!! That is fantastic. You have done so well and I am very proud of you!
    A x

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  5. Hi SM I really felt for you when I read Sunday’s post as I had been struggling with similar feelings. Me and my daughter took part in a sponsored run this weekend and I managed to get myself in a right tiz about who had and hadn’t sponsored me. I felt hurt, rejected, worthless and angry and then some. I spent hours that should have been spent feeling quietly pleased with myself wondering why some people had chosen not to sponsor me, asking myself why that bothered me so much and then asking myself why I wasn’t more pleased about those who had sponsored me.
    Being overlooked in some way always hurts but I’m glad I didn’t decide to stick a metaphorical two fingers up at them all by pouring myself a large drink . Come to think of it, had I still been drinking I probably wouldn’t have got anywhere near as far as doing a sponsored run at all. A few days on and I’m beginning to feel a bit better about it all. I do think I could have expected more support from some people but I’m not letting it eat me up any more.
    Whilst it’s no bad thing for any of us to reflect how being sober may have improved our behaviour please, please don’t beat yourself up too much about what you have done in the past to deserve being left out from an invitation. Maybe it was nothing at all. You just don’t know. Thinking over what we get in comparison to what we deserve is like being lost in a maze. It’s hard to find a logical way through.
    I suppose there are no easy answers to facing up to life on the sober front line. Nothing is ever going to be as instant ( or as pointless) as a drink to remove the pain of rejection. Holding on and seeing it through doesn’t bring any easy answers but it does usually bring us through to a better place. Reading your blog today I can see that you are definitely in a much better place. A 100 bloody days!! Wow, where did that time go? Congratulations and hugs. Flossie x

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