Thursday, 1 August 2013

Honesty and blogging, and reading Brene Brown

Last night I started reading "The Gift of Imperfection" by Brene Brown, which has been recommended on a couple of blogs and in the comment sections of a couple more. Self-help can make me a little queasy, even though I have read craploads of self-help books over the years. But Brown's book is good. And it made me think abut what a funny thing it is for me to write a blog that's public. Now, I don't think a whole hell of a lot of people are reading here. Outside of three spam sites that scan my every word, I don't get a lot of readers, and I'm fine with that. But still, I have been noticing that I am self-editing, being careful not to say things that might be upsetting to a future, possibly non-existent, ultra-sensitive reader. If I say things are going well, I feel compelled to follow up with some "I know it won't always be so easy" comment. But I am not writing this to garner readers, or to placate people who are also quitting drinking and who might read here but who have a different experience of this. Brown talks about living whole-heartedly, and she says to do that it's essential to accept yourself the way you are and not try to be someone else. Ideas of perfection and performing to them skewer self-acceptance, and that puts a big old damper on whole-hearted living. Well, that's what she's saying so far. I'm only 25 pages in.

So, in an effort to be more honest and whole-hearted, I am going to describe to myself how I'm doing on this round of quitting drinking:

1. It's not that hard. When I tried quitting (or moderating before), the hardest part was the ongoing see-saw between "will I or won't I?" and "when will I?" and so on. That stuff is exhausting. And it didn't ever work. This time there is no see-saw. I am not drinking. Period. I am not wasting my energy deciding and re-deciding. On the occasions I've "wanted" a glass of wine, or more accurately, that I've thought about wine, I just remind myself that I have already made that decision, and it took time to make, and I am not making it again. End of story. The time limits I set helped here: first I wasn't drinking for a week, then a month, then 100 days. It's only day 27, so now I feel like, in the interest of playing nice with others, I should bow my head and say "Well, it's early days yet, who can say what will happen to me" etc. Except saying that makes this all seem like some random even that is happening to me, not the result of a considered decision and some serious follow-through on that decision.

2. Reading blogs helps, but too much isn't good for me. I wrote to Belle at that the voices of the people who had succeeded in quitting had been really helpful to me. It's true. I needed a new way of framing my thinking around the booze, and reading was helpful to me in getting that. But I can be a tad obsessive, and too much of anything is mind-numbing. Limiting blog-reading to twice a day seems like a good idea, so I can actually get something done besides not drinking, which isn't actually doing anything and so can't possibly take that long.

3. What I eat matters. Yesterday I commented on a discussion about sugar on Mrs D's fantastic blog. (Here's the post: Of course, I said I wouldn't necessarily recommend eating the way I eat, but why say that? I am not assuming what I do suits everyone, but surely giving up a few foods for a while if you're getting obsessed with them and then introducing them back slowly isn't the most draconian food program ever tried! But that same old inner voice that says, "Careful don't offend anyone, people really like their sugar," that results in me offering a disclaimer I don't quite mean. When I actually quit eating sugar and wheat for a while, it made people damned uncomfortable. My boss referred to it as "Your new flaky eating routine." Never mind that I lost 20 pounds and had way more energy, and I wasn't asking anyone else to do the same thing. I was only, once again, refusing the offer of a mid-afternoon apple turnover. I didn't care if anyone else ate ten of them! After all the flak I took there, I'm careful mentioning it. At the same time, quitting drinking has been way lower profile for me, since I am not being offered drinks all day long everywhere I go, and that might be a part of why it's easier.

4. I am not a smiley, smooth-the crisis woman. I act like that sometimes, because I have strong opinions and don't mind a good debate, so I try to make up for that by being agreeable. The truth is, I can be abrasive, and that doesn't always go over well. We all internalize voices from the surrounding culture. (See #2 above. It can be super-helpful!) But trying to defer to invisible criticism is just incorporating the wrong voices into the inner dialogue. This is a blog, for pity's sake, a paltry online record of something I want to write about. If there are critics out there who might trip across it at some future date, surely they have better things to do than chime in with my own self-criticism.

OK, that's it for now I think. I quit drinking, and I'm not going back. It's not that big a deal. I don't have to pretend to some great internal struggle that's not there. Even cataloguing the tiny drink cravings here and there seem to be giving them too much credit. Sometimes I think I might step in front of a bus, but I don't. No medals there. Once, when a coworker was pregnant, I kept wondering what nursing must be like. OK, fine, but I didn't actually do it, nor was I promoted for not doing it. Random thoughts happen, and they don't have to run the whole show. That is, in part, what human agency is all about. I'm glad I'm doing what I'm doing. But I won't try not to pretend it's something it's not.

1 comment:

  1. Oh! I love Brene Brown. And how powerful she makes me feel. And vulnerable. And real.

    I also over edit myself on my blog to protect people and their sensitivities. I puzzle over how to handle this: to be real and approachable without being an asshole. Or: It's my blog, like it or lump it might be a better way to go.

    B.B. suggests a book in that book called The Alchemist. Definitely worth reading.

    I'm so glad I found your blog! You and I sound a lot alike. :)