How was your Christmas? Jolly, Happy, Joyous and Fun? Perhaps Peaceful and Relaxing?
On Christmas Night, I am always grateful these days, that it was scattered with the above, tired but still with a clear head, of not having to go through the despair and pain of Christmas past. The chaos I caused by drinking like a banshee during the holidays, as well as every other day if truth be known, was just awful.
Being clean and sober means far more to me than the physical, it’s much more to do with the emotional sobriety I feel now. ES, emotional sobriety is the total key to this disease.
Before I ‘got it’, and it took years, there was always the feeling that those who were able to drink were having a far cooler time than I was. Their social calendars were spilling over with parties, meeting up with old friends who were so full of sparkle and successful interesting lives. It was the comparison issue constantly that haunted me. I would look at other women in shops and through misty windows perhaps sipping a white wine in a restaurant, chatting and animated with fabulous stories of the awesome day they had had.
Of course I was letting the turmoil of how my life used to be cross over into an almost fantasy land. There is no doubt that I had some great times when I was drinking, but many years ago. I was young and completely allowed to be outrageous, because that is what young does. But really over thirty being hammered is not a good look, and this Fear of Missing Out had nothing to do with the drinking, just the uninhibited state it put me to do exactly as I pleased.
Alcohol fuelled though the consequences latterly were negative. Now, such is my level of confidence and self esteem, coupled with Choice, I can and do have just as good a time, and what’s more remember it all. I also don’t have to pander to people that frankly I really never liked very much. I am no longer a people pleaser, and that is very liberating, especially when you have zero guilty conscience.
Jealousy and FOMO, fear of missing out, straddles not just real life but the internet too. Not only do you have to appear to be whooping it up in real life, this demeanour has to be seen just as epic on the twitter, facebook and many forums. I scanned Mumsnet this morning, and those who have most probably had a mediocre Christmas sound as though they have been on some kind of film set. Am I cynical, maybe, but bear in mind that I do see the fallout from these holiday celebrations, and most of the reams of posts on the various mediums we have available might well have occurred, but they are also littered with despair and a need to get some control back. But that doesn’t sound like much fun at all does it?
I did also find this very interesting, and not in any smug way, but believe it to be very true.
According to Dr. Harris Stratyner, the vice president of New York Clinical Regional Services at Caron Treatment Centers, feelings of FOMO and “compare and despair” really are exaggerated for alcoholics and addicts. “Addicts are very impulse-oriented,” he explains. “They self-medicate because they want to change how they’re feeling.” He notes that studies have indicated alcoholics and addicts may be smarter (yay) and more intense than “normal” folks, which can lead them into unhelpful rumination and overthinking (urgh). “There is a real connection between addiction and intelligence, and [addicts] are constantly looking to get the most out of their lives in an intense way,” he says. Surely it’s better to get intense about being well rather than intoxicated beyond belief? It was said many times to me, if you put as much effort into being sober as you do into being drunk, you would be an Olympian by now!
So now we are left, as I remember well, with recriminations and apologies, for all the harm we have wrought. That can take days to make the peace if we are lucky enough to still be able to hang onto all we hold dear, at least until New Year. Was it worth it? Are we the only loser if we don’t be seen at the must do party? Those few hours of throwing back insane quantities of booze could and often do, change our lives for ever, and if you are anything like I was, into such a dark place at massive cost, both emotionally and financially, that is absolutely, irrefutably never worth it.
Happy New Year, and I hope that many get that sober is the new black, and can look forward to having fun without the fallout.