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.

Belle

I want to put this online, to hold myself accountable. I want to document the noise in my head. I'm tired of thinking about drinking. date of last drink: june 30, 2012

  • Em says:

    Oh this makes so much sense to me…. alcohol was certainly a place to hide; to prevent me from growing, from being relied upon to take on responsibility. It was me saying “ enough now- I can’t cope so don’t put on me anymore “
    And it hasn’t come from fear of criticism from my family (blood relatives) but more from a feeling that I never come up to my own expectations, even before anyone else gets involved. Im definitely my worst critic. And don’t want to be seen to try in case I’m found out for the trembling wreck I already know to be true of myself. Much easier to just say “I’ve got a drinking problem “ than to actually show the real me.
    And I’m still in a dilemma about whether it would be easier to go back to drinking or to keep fighting through the dust that is all there appears to be left of my self esteem.

  • Oh my, I could write a short novel on this topic. I also have a fear of being judged by my family. It’s not irrational because it happens and did until the day my dad died. I think I drink/drank cause I wanted my parents to think I was as sophisticated as they were. (My dad WAS Don Draper). Thanks to this blog/group, I’m on my way to changing the pattern. Today is my 9th day!

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s as though we are all working out of the same play book. I have withheld information from my spouse in order to avoid potential judgement real or imagined. My mother was always “right” and had to have the last word on whatever she deemed was the obvious answer. What a legacy. The question is..how to get from under that behavior that is so much the fabric of our lives…how to turn that around or better yet give it a proper burial. Maybe that’s what I’ll do. I’ll write down all the shit I want to be done with, put it in an old wine bottle, give it some last rites and bury it in the ground!
      These discussions are so helpful. Thanks one and all.

  • candacegrace says:

    Wow. These exact words could’ve come from 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.”
    It’s so interesting to me that many of us who’ve struggled with alcohol have such similar reasons for self sabotage.

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