Friday, December 4, 2009

Out of the past

Ah, or aaarrrgggh even! It's my life. Yoiks! That's me becoming sober. I'm not going to try and universalise my experience, but for me drinking has certainly been a good place to hide from some of the more unpalatable truths of my personality and my history.

And, drinking has gone. My little cave is opened to the elements, my own horrible self is in the sunlight, all naked and revealed. And, it's not very nice. Twenty years of drinking leaves a lot of regrets. It's partly, I believe, why alcoholism is described as a progressive illness. Medically, it's physically progressive and there's tolerance too, but I think the longer you drink the more you have to regret and a very, very good way of avoiding thinking about that is to drink more - "Nurse! The anasthetic!"

Anyway so here I am. I had a career, but I drank it away. I had the opportunity for a very good education, but I drank it away. I had a very significant relationship, but I drank it away.

Now, I know the common sense advice is to acknowledge these facts, accept that thinking about them can't possibly change anything and accept the exciting new opportunities life has on offer. I don't know why I'm qualifying that as advice, it's just damn true, and I know this, so why am I wallowing in the misery of my past? Because, I'm an idiot that's why. (Let's have a kinder version too: because, I've been very, very ill and I'm only just coming out of it.)

It's the significant relationship that hangs over me now, as it did the last time I got sober, and my regrets and my attempt to do something about them ended horribly for all concerned with much pain that could have been avoided spread liberally around - with me being the chief spreader.

But, I can't seem to leave it alone. It's partly guilt and the need to receive absolution and fogiveness from someone who means a huge amount to me and was very important in my life, who made me very happy and who I made very unhappy. It's also partly a matter of the strength of those feelings - they just won't leave me alone. Now, the common sense advice would be to just move on - she doesn't want to hear from you and is probably quite happily getting on with her own life, which is probably now a damned sight happier for your absence.

I have emailed her twice now. Once, a short pithy, 'I just wanted to see how you are' and 'I'm sorry'. I got a very short and polite reply congratulating me on getting sober and wishing me well for the future. So, I sent a long, self-obsessed, self-justifying, moaning email - I said I wanted to explain and apologise, but probably did neither. I haven't received a reply, so I sent another - truly lengthy, but trying so hard to be less self-justifying and expressing more of the sorrow I feel about what I did. I also asked, rather pathetically, for her friendship. And, promised, rather sinisterly, to phone her if she didn't respond.

Stupid? Yes, it probably is, but I feel I can't help it, I need to try, if not to put things right between us achieve some sort of closure or even civilised adult contact. (Isn't that stupid - you can't help it? That's what little children say when they're caught doing something naughty like picking they're noses. I can help it of course, just as I can help having bad days by smoking dope in the morning, just as I can help getting angry and disappointed with the things I haven't done, I can help by doing them - it's not impossible, it shouldn't be.)

But, I really don't know how to live. I was never taught and I have never learned. I have learned to get away with things, to get by on the least, to hide from hard things in drink and drugs, to avoid responsibility by relying on others or using my 'illness' as an excuse and a hiding place - I can't work, I'm a drunk, I can't go out and do things, I'm a drunk...

God, I'm not a very likeable person, and I'm going to have to change into someone who is if I'm going to have any self-esteem. So, talk about those things that shame me with my counsellor? It's probably a good idea.

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