A conversation with Quill about what we do when things get hard.
Belle: I used to drink to hide. I was hiding from what the world expects of me, and from the goals I set for myself. I wanted to make myself smaller. “Don’t achieve too much”. Drink. “Don’t write too much.” Drink. “Don’t set off and do something interesting.” Drink.
Quill: For me it was (and is) somewhat different. I didn’t want to TRY. Trying new things, trying to achieve goals, meant that people could SEE you and maybe secretly judge you (horrible!) or even criticize you to your face (unsurvivable!) And I had so many times in the past started things only to quit the second it got hard — as you wrote about in a recent blog post, that was the only trick in my bag, to give up — so I didn’t see any point in starting something that would fail. I might have vast technicolor private fantasies about plans and projects and dreams, but that was it.
When you live a life dedicated to attempting nothing, you end up with a very small life. THAT was where drinking came in for me. If I drink enough tonight I won’t have to listen to the voice pointing out that I am not doing anything constructive, creative, useful, or fun with my evening. And tomorrow, if the voice points out I wasted my entire evening drunk on the couch, well, there’s a solution for that, too, in tonight’s bottle.
I chose (and frankly still choose) to hide; I drank to ignore how unhappy hiding made me.
Belle: What is the payoff in having a very small life? Is it that we avoid criticism? Me, I have an unreasonable fear of being judged by my family. When in fact, I don’t even live near them, and they’re not the slightest bit focussed on what I’m doing (or not doing).
And why is it easy to quit when the going gets hard. Like, why not, instead, find a different tool that might work better. “Hey, this isn’t working, oh I’d better try something else” …
Quill: I cannot stand the thought of criticism from anyone ever. I can’t imagine having, say, an advertising job where you pitch things and then people shoot them down. (Geez, no wonder everyone on Mad Men is drunk all the time!) I never express my opinion on contentious subjects in case people try to argue with me. Heck, I get upset when people around me express their opinions because I infer a criticism of my differing beliefs. I try not to let friends know anything about me they might judge. I even married someone who never criticizes (which also means he rarely notices). It’s a fear so deep I can’t begin to think how I’d ever overcome it.
Why is quitting always the first “logical” option? I honestly have no idea. I’d have to give that one a lot of thought to even begin to unpick it, it’s such a deep belief.