I've been thinking about Michael Jackson's face. (Bear with me, it does become relevant!)
When I was at boarding school, I had a poster of the young Michael Jackson on my wall. It was the days just before Thriller, when he was properly black, with afro hair and a slightly squishy nose.
He was gorgeous. I would lie on my bed, staring up at him and imagine what our babies would look like.
But Michael never thought he looked good. He didn't like his hair, his skin, his nose, his chin or his eyes.
So Michael discovered plastic surgery. It promised him a solution to all his self esteem issues. And initially it did what it promised. He liked his nose more, his paler skin, his straighter hair and his sculpted chin. But he still wasn't happy, so he did more and more...
Bit by bit, Michael hacked away at all his perfect features until, one day, he must have looked in the mirror and discovered that instead of making himself perfect, he'd turned into the freak he'd always feared.
The surgery he thought was the solution had caused a horrible problem.
He must, surely, have realised that his original self - before he listened to all those surgeons - was actually pretty perfect.
That's what alcohol does. It promises to be the solution to all your problems. Then, one day, you realise that, actually, it's made all your problems much worse, and that the person you had been - before you started on this road - was actually pretty amazing.
Here are some of the lies we believe:
I will give you courage!
To start with, a shot of 'dutch courage' does seem to do the trick. But then, we get so used to using alcohol as a prop that, without it, we become complete cowards. We retreat into our own little worlds, clutching our bottles, unwilling and unable to take any risks in our lives.
I will give you confidence!
And you do feel more confident in the beginning. But pretty soon you become a bag of fear and anxiety. Unable to cope with anything much without your crutch. You're bloated, overweight, not sleeping and eating junk.
I will make you popular!
And, initially, we are life and soul of the party. But over time we become more and more boring. Self obsessed. Sometimes badly behaved and rude. We look around and realise that the only friends we have are other 'big drinkers.'
I will calm your anxiety!
And so it does - to start. That little knot in your stomach just dissolves after the first few glugs. But then you find you're anxious pretty much all the time! Because the need for a drink causes exactly the same build up of anxiety that it then releases. Plus, you have a hell of a lot more to be anxious about! Your life is a mess.
I will help you sleep!
A few glasses of wine before bed and - bang - out like a light. Only to wake up again at 3am as your poor body tries to process all that booze. Tossing, turning, sweating and hating yourself.
Like Michael Jackson, one day we look in the mirror and think: what have I done? What have I become? All the things I thought alcohol would give me, it's taken away.
You look back at your teenage self and think Wow! I was amazing. Gorgeous, popular, confident, strong. Why couldn't I see that?
But, the good news is, unlike Michael Jackson you can turn back the clock. You can get it all back: courage, confidence, popularity, calmness and sleep.
All you need to do is to see the lies for what they are, and step away from the bottle.
I'm back online!
Love SM x
Related posts: Anxiety and Courage, Sleep, glorious sleep,