I'm going to start off with a big whopping Hooray!!! It's been eight weeks since I drank, and that's a whole lot of days making a whole lot of small, good decisions. Hooray me! Go me! Oh yes, folks, that's me, cheering me on in real time!
I'm playing the part of being my own one-person cheering committee for a reason here, and it's not that I have a big ego. (Well I do--but who doesn't? Sometimes I want to defend our much maligned egos, poor fragile things, egos, bouncing around the rough and tumble world like eggs without safe cardboard cartons. But that's a different post.) Nope. It's this: I am starting to get an inkling of how freaking hard on myself I am. I swear, I had no idea. I do all kinds of things that look like I am taking it easy on myself. I eat when I'm hungry. I sleep when I'm tired. If I catch myself looking in the mirror with any sort of critical eye, I say something nice to myself, out loud, to counter the criticism. I have little treats all the time, so much so that the idea of a treat for being sober doesn't work for me because I refuse to link treats to any performance outcome, and anyway I have them all the time. I really thought I had this being kind to self thing nailed. Oh man, was I wrong! Is getting sober all about realizing how wrong you are about everything?
But I have been doing a slightly crazy job plus full-time school, both at a pretty hectic pace, for a few years, and I don't cut myself much slack on either front. Even when things go well, I hardly register the success because, of course, I am supposed to do well. Last summer, having received an A+ mark in a directed studies class, my partner said I didn't seem pleased with the grade (which is bewildering, right?) and I commented that the professor was probably just being kind because he knew I'd worked hard. Last semester, I minimized another A+, figuring the professor just wanted people to do well. I was not just saying these things. I really thought them. On another tack: I weigh 5 pounds more than I did last summer, and I have been fretting about those 5 pounds in a way that no one could call rational. I could list more examples, but I worry anyone reading would lose patience with me. I would. Examples are hard, because they sound petty. They sound like I'm saying, "See me! Almost perfect!" Please trust me, that's not what's going on here.
This past week, I have started to break through this faulty thinking. The other day, I was buckled into deep, sobbing tears over this. (Yes, I know, I cry a lot.) I realized that I still, far too often, think that if only I lose five pounds and get A+ in everything and do everything right and be smart and funny and nice to everyone all the time, then the God of my childhood will reach out and pat me on the head and say, "Good girl," and everyone will love me and then, only then, will everything finally be OK. Like all the money problems and old broken relationships and mean things I've said or other people have said, all the old problems with my mother and my family and the fact that I drank too much for too long, all the social awkwardness and not believing in myself when I was not being awkward, all that and a whole whack of things I don't even want to list here, all those would be washed away, and life would start again, perfect, bathed in the milky new light of early morning.
That may sound pathetic. It is. But even writing it here makes me go all teary-eyed. I just didn't know I still thought that. That's pretty much me as an eight-year-old, right there, still thinking the same way, almost forty years later. It's a shock to see that I'm still living that view of the world.
If anyone I knew talked like this, I would want to give them a giant hug and say it's all going to be OK. (Sober blog warning: quitting drinking really does make you want to hug everyone all the time!) So that's what I'm trying to do here. Just be really, honestly kind to myself. Take in the giant universe hug and see that it's all already OK.
None of this should surprise me. I know this stuff intellectually. You have to be kind to yourself, accept yourself, etc. But you can know it without feeling it. Now something different is going on. I'm slowly starting to feel what it is to accept myself, and that's a different way of knowing altogether.
So that's me today. I quit drinking eight weeks ago, and I'm proud of that. I'm starting to feel the big love that is part of living in the world. Even if it does feel like being lost a lot of the time, we're going in the right direction here.
Thanks for reading. Hooray you! Hooray me! Hooray world! Peace and joy and big hugs for everyone!