Sometimes those memories from our drinking past are not pleasant. But sometimes they serve a purpose.
A particularly cringe-inducing feature of facebook for me, is when they post “memories”. Luckily, they give you option to share or not share, but lately they seem to be delving back into my most humiliating moments that I wish I could delete entirely from the life, let along the internet.
One of my least endearing drunken traits was to “over-share” on facebook – resulting in incoherent rants. The morning following one of these posts, was guaranteed to plunge me into hours of embarrassment and humiliation, as I attempted damage control. All accompanied, of course, by the obligatory hangover.
So, to see one of these posts now, always gives me a little jolt.
One “memory” that facebook kindly dredged up for me, was not a rant, but a photograph. If I shared it, no one would know that it is one memory that I am particularly ashamed of.
I’ll share the circumstances with you:
It’s a picture of me – looking hot, red in the face and bloated. I am sitting on a bench, with a glass of wine in front of me. Not unusual.
What you don’t see in the picture, is that I am sitting at a BC Ferries terminal, and we were waiting for the ferry to take us across to one of the Gulf Islands.
None of this is embarrassing on its own, of course. Except that it was lunchtime, I had already had too much to drink, ALL of BC Ferries property is dry – and I’m about to have a loud argument with an unsuspecting employee of BC Ferries.
The lady approached me, and asked me politely to stop drinking alcohol.
I should have immediately apologized and dumped out my wine.
I didn’t do that. To my everlasting shame, I argued. I was obnoxious.
I was just lucky that I was not turfed out the BC Ferries parking lot, and banned forever.
My husband was mortified. The BC Ferries employee was upset. And I spent the rest of the day ranting about how ridiculous it was that I should not be allowed to drink exactly what I damn well wanted.
The next day of course, I was remorseful.
I don’t know why this particular incident should stick in my memory far more than any other – I was horrible and obnoxious many times during my ‘drinking years”. But I have imagined this lady being upset and her day being ruined – merely because she did her job. And I would do anything to wind back time and just be nice.
Of course I can’t spend every day beating myself up for all the crappy things that I said and did – I can learn from my past, but I can’t live in it.
I can and I have apologized when appropriate.
But occasionally, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that in addition to hurting ourselves when we were drinking – the impact of our behaviour rippled out and affected lots of people – some, in ways that we are probably not aware of.
In our sober world, we quite rightly celebrate our achievements. Everyone who fights and struggles their way through drug addiction or alcohol dependency deserves all the cheering and accolades.
Those people nearest and dearest to us, get our gratitude and respect for sticking with us. But there are a multitude of other people out there who also suffered because of our drinking.
The BC Ferries lady doesn’t know that I’m not drinking now. She didn’t know then, that I had a drinking problem.
But she felt the impact.
It doesn’t hurt, I don’t think, to bump into the ghosts from our past on occasion.
Not to use those memories as sticks to beat ourselves with – but just as a reminder that our actions have consequences. And also to reassure ourselves that getting sober and staying sober is the right thing to do – if we should ever doubt it, or think about sliding back down that treacherous slope,
Joan Didion, one of my favourite authors wrote:
“However long we postpone it, we eventually lie down in that notoriously uncomfortable bed, the one we make ourselves. Whether or not we sleep in it depends, of course, on whether we respect ourselves”
For me, self- respect has been gained back bit by bit – by doing the work. But the work doesn’t stop – it’s continuous. And if I ever feel complacent, or my ego gets a little bit too big – those memories are there to pop that bubble.
So thank you Facebook. Thanks for the memories.
The Sober Summer Survival Guide
Summer’s here….and the living is easy..
Er, No. It’s not easy. If you are newly sober, or want to be sober, then the words of the song should go..”Summertime…..What Fresh Hell is this?” (except it doesn’t rhyme). Summer brings all it’s own special brand of torture – Boozy BBQ’s, visits from the Mother-in-law, All Inclusive ‘retreats” to Cabo…..not to forget that little Jimmy and Janey are home for an entire six weeks…..