“We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others.”
~Bill Wilson – Promises 3, 4, & 5
“You cannot go beyond your own self-accepted image. As long as you underestimate yourself, you cannot succeed in life…Stupidity is only a misuse of Intelligence in non-intelligent ways.”
~Raymond Charles Barker
April Fool No More
I had already chugged several drinks before arriving at the restaurant for an office dinner party some years back. We were running late and arrived at last call on the cocktail hour, about to be seated for dinner. I grabbed one of the last drinks from the tray that was being passed, chugged it, and took a seat at the table. Within seconds I realized that I needed to get some food in me quick. The room was spinning, I couldn’t focus, and I knew if I opened my mouth, my words would be jumbled and lushy.
I spied a plate of cheese on the table, large triangular slices. I grabbed for a slice and downed it in a few bites. Grateful for something, even though it was a very mild tasting cheese with no crackers or bread to be seen, I grabbed for my second piece, and bit off a corner. That’s when I heard my co-worked Robin from the other end of the long table say with a sense of urgency, “Lena, would you please pass me the butter.” Our eyes met in mutual incredulity. I was eating butter. Great.
I was mortified. My (then) husband looked at me and sized up the situation as I whispered “Do not ever tell anyone about this” as I wiped my tongue with the napkin, trying to be stealth. To my enormous relief, no one else seemed to notice, engrossed in their own conversations. I pretended nothing had happened.
That story has become a hallmark of my drinking for me. The need to drink before a party. The anxiety about trying to manage it. Not managing it. Not wanting anyone to know. Feeling embarrassed. Just pretending, pretending, pretending. Having secrets. Not wanting to be laughed at.
So in this month of April Fools, I can now look at my foolishness and not have it sting so much. I am an alcoholic. If I drink, I am a fool. If I don’t, I am powerful.
When I was drinking, it was supremely important to me that people didn’t laugh at me, didn’t think I was foolish even though I consistently proved I was. It triggered in me my own belief that I was a damn fool. This is I guess why the 4th step and any shadow work we do is so helpful … to diffuse the hot button so that when a memory comes, it no longer stings, burns, or hurts. In fact, it can even be laughed at sometimes, genuinely – not in a “laughing at you” kind of way, but in a way to laugh at ourselves from a different new perspective, in a healthy way, from a distance.
Last night I got to be the designated driver for a company event which, as always included a boatload of alcohol. Robin is the only remaining co-worker from those old days. All the others have only known me in my sobriety. They know I don’t drink – some know that I am in AA, others may wonder, but I don’t care. So when Robin said “Lena can I tell the butter story?” I thought sure, why not. It gets a laugh, and I laugh, too. And the best part of it is, now it seems so out of character for me. Now, the incredulity comes from the others who can’t imagine “that” Lena. Fine with me.
Are you able to laugh at yourself in a loving, forgiving, accepting way?
Do you think it’s funny when others are caught in embarrassing situations?
Can you think of situations from the past when you felt embarrassed but today would see it differently?
In gratitude, harmony, and support,