The frigid wind kicked up as I walked through the woods; blanketing my face making it impossible to see. I had to get to my destination but had lost my way and my condensation filled compass stopped working an hour ago.
I was pretty sure I was fucked. My left shoe fell off a mile back and now the sun was dropping. The coyotes were already howling. Did they smell fresh meat? Did they find my shoe? They sounded further away than where I lost my shoe.
My mind raced as I thought about the conversation I had with Jay. Through crocodile tears, he told me he no longer loved me. He had reconnected with a woman from his past and they just “hit it off so well.” Plus, he added that I was “no fun anymore” since I didn’t drink.
The brand new watch on my wrist; a gift from him for our six month anniversary read six o’clock. I drew back my tears and trekked on. A part of me wished I was in the city so I could hit a bar and drink away my emotions. But, that was stupid and childish. It was good to be in the woods. Being surrounded by nature was more peaceful than being surrounded by a bunch of horny, drunk men.
I never thought I’d ever think that way. Sobriety seems to be helping me grow.
Ya know, I kind of do this sometimes. It leads me nowhere but around in a vicious circle of self-loathing and resentment. Like, right at this very moment, I am sitting in my own crap. So I figured, ‘hey, my S Post is due, I should write about this.’
Saturday night my boyfriend and I went to a bar & grill. Ugh, I know. But his friend (who he hadn’t seen in over twenty years) was playing in a band (with his other long-lost friend) and he just wanted to clear the air with things in the past. Okay… no biggie.
We both talked to each other before we left and made a pact. Neither would leave the other under any and all circumstances. Period. If things got hairy or either of us started to feel uncomfortable we would say so and then we would jet. Okay, there is the pact.
I know you probably already have an idea of what happened. Yeah, he left me sitting at the bar (with my soda and Loaded Nachos) and went to go mingle with all his old friends. I sat there alone for thirty minutes being ogled by creepy old guys and the ‘shot girl’ asking me three times if I wanted a shot. My blood pressure shot through the roof the first time she came by and I snapped ‘no’ as I waved my hand. Still, she came by two more times. Ugh, again.
So I am trying to see through the wall to locate my boyfriend in the other part of the bar. “Where the fuck are you?” I am thinking as I get upset. I can’t see him but hope he is on the other side of that wall.
I finally spot my boyfriend and some hot blonde hanging all over him. Okay, now I am feeling resentful, angry and jealous. This is just not fucking going well… at all. My whole ‘fight or flight’ thing is kicking the shit out of me because I am extremely uncomfortable.
So finally after all that, he comes back over with one of his friends. I know my face says, ‘you suck’ because, after all, I wear my heart on my sleeve. His friend apologizes to me for keeping him away. But do I get an apology from my boyfriend? Nope. All I get is justification and ‘I didn’t do anything wrong.’
For the rest of the night, true to form, I stuffed in all inside because I didn’t want to ruin the night or act like an ass in the establishment. That’s what I used to do back when I was ‘out there.’ I’d act like a total psycho no matter where I was if whoever I was with at the time hit me with a perceived injustice. But this time I wasn’t drunk or high. I was just me… raw and real with my emotions.
By the way, turns out the hot blonde was his friend’s sister.
So I guess I have grown up a little. My old behaviors didn’t ooze from my pores and I kept my composure for the rest of the night. I did try to bring how I felt up later on when we got home, but that didn’t go well. And it’s interesting, because I am still trying to get it out, but having a hard time. I suck at talking! maybe I should write a letter…
Are you able to recognize when you ‘sit in your own crap?’
This post was originally called “Righteousness – The Road to Misery” but I changed it last-minute. Resentment and righteousness go hand in hand, really. After all, I can’t feel resentful if I am not feeling righteous. Not to mention, resentment is the number one thing that sends alcoholics and addicts back to a drink or drug no matter how long they have been sober.
I stated in an earlier post how angry I was as a child. This anger brewed inside me as the decades of my life passed. Realistically, anger for me was always resentment. I resented:
The list went on for pages. Then, when I got sober, I was still resentful at everyone and everything. Sure, I was floating on the pink cloud of newfound freedom from drugs and alcohol. It was great waking up feeling good – not hung over or dope sick. But I still had all that resentment and it was eating away at my soul like cancer.
After my pink cloud dissipated into the sun of real life, I was still left with all that resentment! What to do… how about a Fourth Step? The Fourth Step works and continues to work today. See, in all my resentment, anger, jealousy.. etc, I played a part! I couldn’t believe that. I mean, how the hell could I play a part in the way my ex-husband treated me years ago or any of the other “injustices” dumped on me?
It was simple and with the help of my sponsor I figured it out. These days, if I feel resentful I kind of sit in it for a little while (I’m a good alcoholic) but then I really have to do a quick inventory, give it to God and let it go. This makes for happier days.
I was always the “why kid.” You know, that annoying little brat in the back seat (or at the lunch table) that questions everything. I mean, I never questioned why the sky was blue or the sun was hot, but I did question a lot of stuff that really spoke for itself.
When I drank and drugged, I questioned why my life sucked so bad. I questioned why life felt like hell everyday. I questioned why the hell God kept me around after it was clear I did not want to be alive. Honestly, my life sucked because I chose for it to suck. Simple…
What I have learned in these past years is that questioning everything is a ridiculous behavior that I still get caught up in… a lot. I start to question things when I don’t go to enough meetings. And the questions I ask, in the car on the way to work (this is when I have my conversations with God) are pretty silly. They are the kind of questions a teenager would ask their mother or God.
Yeah, I am slowly catching up to my real age. I think at this point I am like 20 in drug years.
Other things I question are people’s motives or actions. For example, I might question why my boyfriend did ‘x, y, or z.” But you know what? It doesn’t really matter because he did whatever it is he did. My job is to figure out why it makes me feel sad, jealous or angry and go from there. I should question myself more and question others less.
As much as I hated my life until about six years ago, I always loved people. My first job was at a 7-11 working the 6 am – 3 pm shift and after my shyness and terror wore off, I realized… I love this. The interaction with the customers was my favorite part of the day. Even now, working at an accounting firm, as crazy as tax season is, I love when clients come in the office. There is just something great about being around people. I always joke that being in nature would be heaven for me, and that really isn’t a joke… really. I love being around the trees, water and animals. But people…
While the things I learn from people vary, what is interesting is I learn a lot of behaviors and mannerisms I wish not to have or use. I worked at a Wawa (part-time) as a second job about two years ago. I loved being on register because of the customers (even the grumpy ones!) and I smiled at everyone that came through my line. Sometimes there were rude people, and that was okay. Sometimes there were bratty kids – and bratty adults – who handed me their money in a little rolled up ball (please, if you do this… it is rude.. stop!) But still, I smiled… I loved the people.
One night, a pretty woman a little younger than me came through my line. When I saw her I thought of myself immediately. Here was this attractive woman, dressed a little provocatively and she was drunk off her ass. Now, maybe when I was new in sobriety, this would have been a trigger for me, but at this point, it was a sort of epiphany. I felt sad and embarrassed for her as I rang her up and asked her if she was okay. She laughed and said something snarky and of course, I just smiled.
After I said a small prayer for her that night before bed, I thanked God for my second chance at life. I also thanked him for sending that woman through my line as a stark reminder of “what it was like” for me and then remembered “what it is like now.”
It is different and I love it. I love waking up feeling the same way I went to bed. I love being able to talk about things without screaming at someone and then drowning my sorrows in booze and drugs.
The people, places and things in my life today are amazing. Thank you God.. and thank you to everyone else and my program for getting me on with getting on.
How do you handle the interesting people who enter your life on a daily basis?
It is interesting to me how throughout my life I lived some terrible ordeals, dealt with awful people and situations and still, I manage to be open and wear my heart on my sleeve. I talked about this back in February, you can check that post out at the link. I do find my honesty and openness freeing. True, I sometimes lack openness, but those are the moments when I find myself feeling dark and that raging knot grows in my belly.
Now, when I say ‘open,’ I don’t mean telling a woman her dress makes her look fat or that the guy trying to chat me up is an asshole. I’m talking about openness with myself and others regarding myself.
To Thine Own Self Be True
I have never been true to myself. I was true to other people, places and things, but the self-loathing I felt each day inhibited me from being honest and open with one of the most important people in my life: me. It was a vicious game I played and lost each time. Still, I would go back in, guns blazing with sheer determination to ‘be who they wanted me to be’ no matter the outcome.
A couple of years into sobriety and doing my step work, I began to change. I spoke up for myself (sometimes) and said ‘no’ when I meant ‘no’ and ‘yes’ when I meant ‘yes.’ Man, did this ever make me feel empowered!
Each time I am faced with a big decision, I no longer handle it alone. Being honest with myself (above all else) and putting my trust and faith in God has done amazing things for my life.
Life is one big lesson. We learn how to walk and talk as babies, feed ourselves and not poop our pants. Eventually we learn critical thinking with that Godforsaken red shape box with the fifteen various shaped plastic… shapes. C’mon, you know what I’m talking about.
There are two words I have learned (the hard way of course – both a blessing and a curse) should be forbidden to leave my lips:
NEVER and ALWAYS
See, these are dangerous words for me. Throughout my addiction, I used these words frequently and even throughout the early stages of my sobriety. Use of these words are dangerous for sure. True to my nature, these words have the opposite effect on my life. Strange, I know… it’s kind of like ‘yes means no’ and ‘no means yes’ and I mean that.
I have refrained from using these words when arguing… mostly because it irks the hell out of me when people use them against myself. Things like:
“You never do the dishes!” or “You always say that!” UGH…
Importantly, I cannot use them regarding my sobriety. I take it one day at a time as I should. Each day a blessing filled with adventure and opportunity. And as I learned, anything can happen!
How do you feel about the words never and always? Do you use them when arguing?
I was an angry kid. Like, pissed off at everyone for everything. In grade school I beat up the boys and from the ages eleven through thirteen I refused to smile. In fact, there isn’t a picture of me smiling during that time period. I hated my home life, my gangly legs, my parents and pretty much everything else.
At thirteen, I discovered Pink Floyd and slit my wrists in my bedroom. Looking back, it was an unheard cry for help. The boy I liked said, “you didn’t do it right.” My family swept it under the proverbial carpet. My angry cries remained unheard.
At fourteen, I still hated myself, but in the summer of 1987, things were finally looking up for me. I was filling out, getting attention from boys and finally finding myself (yeah right). I started smoking pot, skipping school and conveying my messages of hate to my high school chums.
Anger became a good friend. It blanketed my fears, worries and insecurity. I hid behind anger like an unblemished mask never realizing how it destroyed me. Married at sixteen, I learned from my then mother-in-law and her mother, that anger was normal. These two women were angry about everything. They taught me passive-aggressive behavior and oh how I loved that!
I became an expert at passive-aggressive behavior as I “made people pay” for the “unjusts” they caused me. But I noticed something.
My scowled face, harsh words and bitter mannerisms fell on myself while everyone went on with their days, blind to my rage. How could they not feel my rage? No one gave a damn about my anger. No one stopped me from self-sabotaging, self-harming with drugs, alcohol and promiscuity.
In fact, I scowled so much in my younger years, I have a permanent frown line between my eyebrows. People ask me “why are you mad?” or “what’s wrong?” or say, “you always look mad.” It’s annoying, but some things cannot be helped.
These days, I’m not angry… really. I just have a stark reminder printed on my face of the anger I felt for so long. These days, I give it to God.
You’ve heard the sayings… “don’t look back” — “learn from the past” — “the pain heals, but the scars remain” — there are hundreds of sayings that talk about the past. Looking back on the past kept me in a whirlwind of sorrow and misery. I would stay there, dwelling and obsessing like a goat over a woolen shirt. I still do it sometimes and then I think, “what the hell am I doing?!”
Feeling sorry for myself became an art as I sat at the bar, drowning my sorrows yapping about my pathetic life (which was everyone else’s fault, by the way).
I used to be hung up on the “why” of the past. Why did this happen to me? Where did I go wrong? Why me? WHY ME? WHY ME?!
The trick for me is to look back, learn and move the hell on.
It’s true, I have learned from the past. I learned that drinking and drugging were transparent band-aids that masked my misery while pouring salt in my wounds. That is a part of my past I cannot forget. Ever. But, I had to get over it… the pain, the sorrow and especially the feeling sorry for myself. How would I do that? After all, I was great at feeling sorry for myself. I was great at sitting in my own crap while I donned the face of misery and self-pity.
I should bother to look back, but only to learn and share.
I’m not sure how many of my beautiful readers dealt with bullying and teasing as children, but I have to say, that stuff has a profound affect on people. It sure as hell had a profound affect on me. So much that, even today I, at times, have a case of the uglies. You know that sick, yucky, disturbing feeling inside… that “I’m not good enough, not pretty enough..” Hell, not anything enough.
As I write this post, I am reflecting on my day. I had a good day all in all (any day sober is a good day!) I did have a case of the uglies today, however, and when it was going down in my (always) amped up mind, I was beating myself up… royally. The “uglies” as I call them, are sneaky, vile little things that grip me up in a second if I cannot “kill” them.
I was talking with my boyfriend today about this stuff in a sense. Not specifically “killing the uglies” but more so why the hell shit bothers me that bothers me. Like, stuff that shouldn’t really bother me. One thing I do when I talk to people is listen to what I am saying because, believe it or not, there is always some message in my words that I should hear. Does that sound vain and egotistical? Perhaps…
I brought up a profound event in my life that shaped my sense of self from the age of nine until this very moment. I talk about these things because I have to KILL THE UGLIES. I have to remind myself that there is a deeper root to my insecurities and low self-esteem if I am going to get better. There is always something more than the “surface insecurity” and that is what I have to get to… fast.
This is where a big part of my program comes in. I couldn’t get over any of the pain, torment and geekiness I felt from a child through my early thirties. Being a good alcoholic, I drowned my pain in booze and promiscuity, as I searched for someone or something to fill that void or abandonment. Long after I got sober, I still searched. There had to be someone or something out there that could kill this damn ugly feeling. But alas, I learned that I had to kill the uglies from the inside.
Some days I still struggle. I might stop praying, slack on my meeting attendance or stop networking with my sober circle. That’s when the uglies start to seep in. Thankfully, I know just what to do to squash those bastards.
Do you have something that helps you when you start to get overwhelmed?