Tag Archives: self-esteem

Why was I so angry?

9 Nov

10:05 pm

As you know, I’ve been rather methodically going through my “stuff,” the stuff that I threw into storage a decade ago and haven’t really looked at since.  All these seven years, while getting sober, I have speculated but never really “corroborated” the conclusions I came to regarding why I drank; I never really looked at all those writings and notes and pictures, just to see, was that really how it went down?  Was that really who I was back then?

Anyway, the question keeps coming to mind, Why was I so angry?  And, after all these years and all that wine–and now, all these weeks spent purposefully going over my “boxes of the past,” so to speak–I don’t really know.  It’s really a tough concept to wrap my head around:  I was SO angry back then, and it defined my life and relationships during that time as well as impacted them for years to come, but I cannot for the life of me really remember what I was fuming about.  It’s crazy-making, albeit I’m grateful to not be anywhere near that angry anymore–and, have had, dare I say, years of feeling relatively stable and joyful.

I have to say, this process of sorting through my stuff (as we prepare for our move back to the island) has been tedious by my own making, and it’s been more a process of reminiscing as well as letting go (of the past, of my youth, I am not even sure).  I mean, I was perfectly fine not remembering all this stuff, and then here come the boxes and I’m all reflective and sad and kind of reliving that horrible past that “caused” me to drink in the first place (caused in quotes because I know that no one or no thing made me drink–I loved drinking until I didn’t and couldn’t).

After going over some stuff, looking for clues as to what made me so angry that I ramped up my drinking, this is what I do know:  I seemed to be my “old” self, bruised and battered like everyone else, but still happy and smiling, confident and well, resilient, up until about 2000 or 2001 (I turned 27 in 2001).  I had already gone through many things prior to then that might have broken me but didn’t–fighting parents; a binge eating disorder in my late teens and early 20s; college itself, which was difficult and maybe a key to my drinking.  I majored in biology/pre-med, something that I wasn’t even really good at (Does a love for animals necessarily equate to studying biology?) because I told myself that “I should”–instead of something that I loved and was good at and DREAMT of doing, writing, specifically writing poetry.  I was too afraid, so I pushed my dreams out of mind and did what I told myself I should do.  I negated my dreams, discarded my self.  It hurts to even write that, to read it out loud, but it’s true.  Pain is behind anger, and maybe this is where it all began?

All this is to say, there wasn’t this one big thing that made me angry.  Did I just feel erased, exhausted by my refusal to express the real me?  Maybe.  I mean, looking back at pictures of myself from around 2000, 2001, 2002–that was when I became uber-angry and started drinking; or, started drinking and became uber-angry–I can’t come up with any one thing that happened that should have made me as angry as I looked and felt.

I hate to admit it, but I think my drinking ramped up with an increasing disappointment over my romantic relationships.  Like, it sucks to admit that my life could have been derailed by a man (haha), but I think that most of the depression and rage that came to a head during my late 20s came from feeling slighted and not good enough and then, finally, unloved and unloveable, or so I told myself.  Of course, I had a role in all these failed romances (I was that crazy drunk bitch), but it was still painful and frustrating–and made me angry.

Another thing that might have made me angry, over time, was the fact that by my late 20s, I was starting to get ground down by always doing what I was supposed to be doing, and hating every minute of it (I mean, I still do the same kind of work, but I have a longer-term plan, and I’ve spent years finding my voice as a freelancer).  I never allowed myself to freely express myself, to not be agreeable, to be loud and ugly and well, angry!  By the time I turned 30, I finally decided to go back to school for one of two things (writing was one), two things that I had determined I liked.  Before then, I felt like I had not lived a determined life, that I had let this people-pleasing mentality go on for far too long.  I was desperate to break free–to fucking break things!  And, break things I did, while blackout drunk.

I think one key aspect to blackout drinking is saying, fuck it, I give in/up, let me just smash the fuck out of it all.  Let me drop the ball.  The only way perfectionists and people-pleasers, the always-agreeable ones, are going to let it go is to not be aware of the fact that they are letting it go.  For me, drinking to the point of not remembering what I was doing not only let me do things that I would never normally allow myself to do, but it also allowed me to not have to account for dropping the ball, you know?  If you can’t remember, it didn’t happen (in your mind, at least).

At the end of the day, I can’t say what ONE thing made me angry.  What I can say is, I cannot blame anyone else for doing anything to me that caused me to be angry, and to drink.  No parent, no man, no biology text book made me drink.  I chose to drink–the way I wanted to drink, which was to erase the anger, the hurt; to erase the self who was stuck inside, trying to get out.

Drinking soothed my angst (I was scared to be a poet, so I told myself that someone was telling me I “should” not do it), my loneliness (I wasn’t able or ready to relate, which is why I picked the wrong men), and my social anxiety (I am by nature an introvert, so drinking made meeting new people actually somewhat fun).

SO, do I have any more answers than I did before I got my stuff out of storage and started rummaging through said past for clues as to why I drank?  Eh, sure, I guess, but like all things related to alcoholism, nothing is cut and dry, and everything is everything.  It’s not like I can close my boxes and computer and say, I know why I veered off track (the scarier question is, was I ever on one?), I know what made me drink.  It won’t ever be resolved, but…there’s good news.

The good news is, I’ve realized with almost certainty that you don’t have to live in the past; you can remember your mistakes and learn from them, and you can process your experiences in order to be a better person or live a lighter, truer life–but, you can take the good bits of the past, and relive those, and leave the bad bits behind.  You don’t have to relive any of it.

Honestly, I feel like I’ve lived LIFETIMES since that time, which was almost 20 years ago.  And, really, does it even matter anymore what made me so angry if I’ve moved so far beyond who I was then?

Let it go, let it go, let it go.  Learn from your past, cherish it; but don’t hold onto it.  Such a simply worded mantra for one of life’s hardest exercises.

Still plugging away

25 Jun

11:35 am

It’s been a while, and some milestones have come and gone:  four years of having this blog, another road trip, an engagement (yup–me!), my mom’s 70th birthday party.

I’m still working my remote full-time job plus my part-time coffee shop job…  I haven’t been doing much personal or journalistic writing, for obvious reasons.  And, to top it off, I am sick again.  (Problem is, I can do all this stuff, but I don’t sleep well, and I can literally go days without getting more than 3 or 4 hours a night–adds up to me catching a chest cold in the middle of summer!)

All that being said, I am still plugging away at sobriety, recovery, and all the thoughts and ruminations that go along with it.  In fact, the other day, my fiance (haha–sounds weird) and I had the same conversation that we’ve been having since I got sober:

Him:  You never go out/be social; you’re a snob.

Me:  No, I’m not, I just [excuse after excuse after excuse].

It’s hard for me to discern WHY I hesitate to go out, and be social; so, I tried it the other day.  And, it reminded me of how effing social I used to be, and how hermetic I tend to be now.  And, it reminded me that I AM still social, but I think a lot more about it now *because I am sober*.

I could go into a long post about intimacy, and why I fear the fuck out of it, and how fear of intimacy and introversion connect–but, honestly, I just don’t get it myself.  I *think* I don’t like people getting to know me (which boils down to, I have low self-esteem), and I don’t have the energy to be gregarious (or, how I still believe some people want me to be) without alcohol.  I’m older now, and the desire to get to know ME above other people continues to drive me, too.

The thing is, it feels GOOD to be out there, to be involved.  Which is why I’m literally making myself sick working the coffee shop job–it really helps to stabilize/normalize me psychologically if I’m out there, seeing what’s up and who’s who (I see people, and most importantly, they see me).  It helps people trust me, which makes me feel better about myself.  I used to have a HUGE mental clusterfuck going on with being “secretive,” and where that ended and my introversion began.  Now, it’s with intimacy–where does a learned fear of letting others get to know my “horrible, flawed” self end and a hard-wired introverted nature begin?

It feels good to be social, this I know.  So, since getting back from our road trip, I’ve decided to stop bitching and start doing.  I’ve been social–gasp–THREE times this week!?!?  One night, I went to see a band play with my neighbors, another night I went to a “sound healing” ceremony at a local temple, and tonight, I’m going to see a Ted talks event.

I’ve come a long way toward sorting out all the confusion that getting sober brings when it comes to figuring out how to be and act in social settings–and how to be you, whoever that is now.  But, it takes effort to create and maintain a social life.  Does that mean I have a bunch of friends?  Well, that’s where intimacy comes in, and whether it’s as simple as me just being me and stopping overthinking shit–le sigh, for a different Saturday morning musing.

All in all, still plugging away.  And hoping to write more when the dust settles!

Is self-esteem the common denominator?

22 Apr

11:26 am

First, thanks for all the comments to my last post. I want to and will get back to all of you in the comments soon–great discussion, eh? BUT…I didn’t mean to write something polarizing, but that seems to be how many interpreted it. I think I was getting at something more basic: I don’t need or want to be “telling on myself” all the time. I don’t believe I am particularly “fucked up,” and I do believe that poor coping mechanisms besiege every single person on this planet. All that being said, I think there are particular commonalities among people with substance use problems and/or disorders, and those might actually be best ironed out in both individual and group (AA, other recovery groups) settings!

Anyhoo…

I was in the shower the other day–seems to be where most of my ideas pop up–and I thought, man, I have such low self-esteem. It was in reaction to something someone posted on Facebook, a picture of him hugging someone else. I noticed how happy he was, and how loving; but also, how “out there” his happiness and love were. Like, there doesn’t seem to be a hesitant bone in his body.

Whoa. That’s weird. I just segregate those “kind” of people into an entirely separate folder, because I don’t get them. I wish I was like them, but I don’t get them. And, maybe they, too, have had self-esteem issues–doubts, ruminations–but they’ve simply worked (are working) through them.

This person doesn’t seem to approach the day with thoughts like: I wonder what he is thinking of me; I bet she doesn’t like me; he is probably thinking badly of me; she is ahead of me; I don’t deserve to be here; I don’t deserve to be able to stand tall and look her in the eye; is my looking him in the eye going to be perceived as passive or aggressive? It must sound crazy to more outgoing people, or people who don’t think this way; but these are thoughts that I am almost embarrassed to say run through my mind on autopilot, like a subconscious soundtrack. They are literally so embedded in how I see the world that I don’t even hear them anymore.

It seems that there are people who seem to have self-confidence to the point where they almost lack any and all self-consciousness. They don’t wake up dreading the day, deep down. They wake up ready to embrace the day, because they are convinced that they deserve this. They don’t think they’re “better” than others by expecting love and reciprocity from people. They don’t think about this at all, that’s how ingrained it is.

I think this is called self-esteem, and from what I’ve seen, “addicts” and “alcoholics” (myself included) seem to lack this (to varying extent).

There could be so many genetic and environmental reasons why “we” are this way, but what I’m trying to do now is recognize this in myself–down to even the subconscious level–and reverse it. I have no idea sometimes if I’m doing it right, and maybe I can come across as bitchy, or self-righteous. I don’t mean to.

I realize that part of the problem with being so obsessed with seeing my brother’s girlfriend at the wedding in May (she hates me, and when I say hate, I mean hate) is that I feel SO uncomfortable with someone not liking me. It’s going to be a GREAT lesson for me, and I just hope I can distract myself enough while leading up to May and while actually there that I successfully get past it. I will, I’m just not sure how I will feel, and what will transpire between us–and that scares me, and periodically really upsets my inner zen.

However, the bottom line is, it’s not her, it’s me. I feel insecure with someone hating me, and I shouldn’t. I need to be able to love myself no matter what anyone else says, does, thinks, or feels about me. And, that hits hard at the core of my self-esteem “problem.” I’m glad it hits hard, because maybe I would miss the connection–and the possibility of some serious resolution–if it was more subtle.

Anyway, food for thought.

Bobbing along nicely and–BAM! Another pesky issue…

10 Jun

1:52 am

That’s how I feel. I’m just bobbing in my inner tube in the middle of the ocean. There’s blue horizon everywhere–possibility–but I’m sort of just USED to it. No big whoop. And then…

CRASH! I run head first into an issue like, I have low self-esteem. Or, I may never speak to my brother again and I’m not sure I want to, and that feels really bad inside. And, all my hip-hip-hooraying for myself fizzes out of me like air from a wet balloon.

For the past several weeks (a month?), the urge to drink has been replaced by the urge to do. To Get Things Done. The necessity to move forward, before It’s All Too Late. I’ve got 12 weeks sober again tomorrow, which is good-fine-great-grand. Whatever, in a way. I really can’t even think about drinking, I have too many important tasks and decisions. Maybe next week, after 90 days? Nah, probably not. Maybe next month, after 100 days? I don’t know…I might be volunteering, or going back to school, or something else huge and stressful (what IS my problem?).

Fortunately, there are no real cravings, is what I’m saying; I’ve basically stomped them into the ground with my rationalizing and true-storytelling (i.e., If you drink, you will feel horrible and do and/or say horrible things). And, this has been absolutely amazing. A relief of the sort I never in a million years would have imagined, let alone hoped for, in sobriety. NEVER. Never never never. (I’m still waiting for the desire to guzzle vino to come roaring back, or even niggling its way in; but so far, so good. FUCK YOU, WOLFIE. HATE YOU VERY MUCH!)

Anyway, tomorrow, aside from finishing an editing project, I want to pitch a few story ideas to an editor. Yes, actually. And, no, I have no idea who this nebulous figure is, said editor, but I do have contacts at the magazine and why not? WHY NOT.

I discovered that, sans wine, I can no longer avoid confronting the existence of my sad, sorry self-esteem. I have major self-esteem issues, and of course, drinking made them worse but also, drinking was just a good cover. I didn’t have to confront them and therefore, I also didn’t have to deal with them. As for pitching, partly, I’m still making excuses why I shouldn’t, but mainly, it’s the rejection I fear now (I guess) more than the work involved in the ensuing project if said editor says yes (or the work involved in pitching more and again and elsewhere if said editor says no). OH, WELL. That’s the writing life, and I am SO SICK OF MYSELF for not actually doing it.

I can do this. And I will. I just have no idea why I haven’t believed in myself enough for this long to not even fucking try.

Like I said, bobbing along and then–BAM! Icebergs! (The good thing about being sober is, you don’t get stuck on the iceberg’s tip and start to freeze to death. You see it, drink in some of its actual stunning beauty, and then, push it aside with your toe. You are, after all, bobbing along in YOUR inner tube, on a summer’s day, blue horizon all around. And, wait, LOOK–there’s the shoreline, and there’s your Unicorn with Sparkly Teeth! She’s waiting for you! She’s still pulling your water wagon and YES, yes she IS holding a nice fizzy drink in one hoof JUST FOR YOU! And you look back, see the iceberg floating away, and sigh, Eh, it was JUST an iceberg…)

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