Self esteem

The last two or three weeks have been a period of intense reflection. I have been almost hermit like – dragging myself out to work and to walk the dogs , but doing nothing else. Ignoring the phone, unable to face anyone. I’m not sleeping well with both inability to get off to sleep, and repetitive waking through the night. I just feel sad. Not especially stressed, nothing bad has happened- in fact I got a tax rebate this week – not a fortune but enough to buy a new dishwasher (the old one is terminally ill and worse than useless). 

And out of this period of self reflection? 

The realisation that

  • My self esteem is nil. It always has been with a few notable periods of exception – largely due to someone else boosting my sense of self worth.
  • That this is at the bottom of everything. 
  • That building this will need to be an active process- and not a passive one.

I don’t know if I have the energy. 

What do you feel you have lost?

What do you feel you have lost? Are those things solely because you don’t drink? If you were to drink tomorrow would they return? Do you still want them?

These questions were put to me by a tremendously kind and wise blogger, as a comment on my last post. I have been ‘mulling them over’ since I read them 72 hours ago. It has been enlightening, positive and helpful to reframe my thoughts in the light of these questions.

What do you feel you have lost ?

Most obviously I lost my relationship, and given the intensity of the conviction I felt that he was the ‘right person’, thats been hard. If I’m honest it still IS hard to reconcile that complete certainty, intense connection & physical response to him, with the knowledge that he did not care for me in a way that I understand as being acceptable. That he did not have my back, did not see us as a couple and a Unit, would not put our relationship and its success, or my needs anywhere high up on his list of priorities. That loss, as much as the physical presence has been bitter and hard to accept.

Mostly it’s hard to accept because I feel like I have lost all faith in my own judgement. That if I could be so wrong about this, about this person, then what I feel / think / believe has no / little basis in reality. I am not a good judge of character, I can’t my choose friends well, and that’s hard to accept because it means it would be very hard to trust myself or my feelings again. The alternative, that he WAS the right person, but my expectations are unrealistic and over demanding – thus meaning no relationship with anyone could ever be successful or make me happy, is scarcely any better.

Either way, I think it’s truthful to say that I’m having a hard time adjusting to being alone. Not so much day to day – I’m really busy most days, and barely have time for myself, but in the bigger picture. I met my ex husband in 2000, and had been pretty much part of a couple since then. The prospect of not being able to trust anyone enough (or myself enough) to have another relationship in the future is pretty depressing.

I also feel / felt I had lost ‘myself’. The person I am familiar with. The impulsive, fairly sociable, entertaining, drinking person who I have grown up with. In her place is a serious, introverted, anxious person who struggles at times with social interaction and feels boring and limited by her sobriety. Perhaps it would be more truthful to say that I miss the excuse that drinking gave me to ‘avoid’ dealing with ‘stuff’. Now there are no excuses and no hiding. I, in common with a lot of people, think I have perceived extrovertness as a desirable characteristic, and now I’m left with my natural introversion … I’m not yet confident enough to feel comfortable with this, let alone celebrate it.

Are these things solely because  you don’t drink ?

The simple answer to this is yes. Being sober gave me the clarity to really see how unhappy I was in my relationship and to realise that I could not carry on like that. I tried to effect change, but my ex-partner was unwilling / unable to make changes that would have enabled our relationship to continue. That’s a short form. In a longer explanation I would say that being sober forced me to see with clarity the financial abuse of me, and the emotional abuse of the children and I. And that this was intolerable to me. And that once you have ‘seen’, you cannot UNsee… so that even if I started drinking again today I could not UN see what I have, could not regain the respect that I have lost, could not forgive what I feel is unforgivable. Therefore, whatever I do now, I’ve lost something that was, at least at one time, incredibly precious to me.

As to myself. The ‘me’ I am now, The ‘Lily-I-have-developed-into’, what of her. I don’t DISlike her, I don’t understand her. I dont know what makes her tick, I don’t know how to fed her and nourish her. I dont know how to trust her, to believe in her, to accept her for what she is. And yes, this is because at the age of 51 I gave up drinking which was a huge part of the identity both of the “Lily I was” and the ” Lily-that-everyone-else-know”.

If you were to drink tomorrow would they return?

No, they would not, could not. Because I cannot Unknow what I now do, cannot Un see what I now see, cannot trust myself (drunk or sober) to make good decisions in respect of my personal life. I cannot turn back the clock and continue as if the last 571 days have never happened, as though this blog never existed ,as though I have never been to therapy and looked / reflected on so many things. I cannot go back, cannot erase the decisions I made, cannot ‘remake’ myself as I was in March 2016 (even if I wanted to) ….

Do you still want them?

And this is where it gets interesting because logically, with my head … NO I most certainly dont. Was I happy, back in March 2016? No, I was not. I was absolutely wretched: miserable, trapped, frustrated and hopeless. I desperately wanted to stop drinking but couldn’t imagine that I could actually do that, I was living with a man who had no respect for me, in a relationship that was crippling me financially, alienating my children, friends and family. I was desperately lonely, worried about my health and so, so anxious that disaster was round the corner. How could I WANT that ? and how could I regret its loss? I dont know, and in reality I don’t think I do. I think it’s just that there is nothing to take its place … nothing exciting and fulfilling, nothing ‘new’.

Do I want to be that impulsive, extroverted, socially (more) confident person that I previously projected to the world? – that’s harder, because yes in some ways I do. She could usually find something ‘new’ (read entanglements with men of one form or another) or superficially exciting (read reckless spending) to occupy her brain with….

In my heart, do I want these things ? I don’t know. Maybe I want the impossible, for the past never to have happened, to turn back the clock and change the decisions I made. maybe I just need to learn to live with the regrets that weigh heavy on my soul.

I’ve become very conscious that our time on this earth is limited, and that ill health, accidents, disaster can befall anyone, at any time. I want to make the most of my time, my opportunities, but I feel stifled and constrained… In reality that’s just life for most of us… we have responsibilities, have to work, have limited resources…

Maybe what I need is a forward plan, something to work towards – something that will make me happy … something achievable without too much effort, something positive….

suggestions on  a postcard please x