The broken pieces of yesterday…

Tuesday 30 Dec, 2014, 6:20pm by Mrs D 27 comments

Member @twinkle just wrote a powerful update in the Members Feed about the crap day she had yesterday. It did sound like she’d had a mega crap day, but she’d managed her way through it with the help of various strategies (chocolate, online shopping, ice-cream) and no alcohol (yay!). She recounted the day, wrote honestly and proudly about the fact she hadn’t had a drink, and finished with the brilliant line; “today is a new day and I will not carry the broken pieces of yesterday around with me.” What a beautiful sentence and such a gorgeous sentiment.

I will not carry the broken pieces of yesterday around with me.

There’s such a temptation for us to drag ourselves down feeling bad about things that have happened and things that we’ve done – yesterday or in years gone by. Shitty decisions, bad choices, awful arguments, dumb reactions. And in the case of us alcoholics – sooooooo much boozing and over-indulging and numbing and stumbling and slurring and avoiding.

I look back over my life sometimes and feel quite sad at all the boozing I’ve done. Almost every memory from every big event is clouded by booze (either I can’t remember it that well or I remember only too well how wasted I got). My photo albums are full of images of me smiling and looking happy but I look at them now and think how  sad it was that I was numbing myself constantly. Why did I have to accompany every moment, every life event with alcohol? Why was wine my best friend?

I know I shouldn’t beat myself up too much. I know I should be grateful (and believe me, I am) that I have discovered the joy of living  raw and fully in touch with my emotions. I know I should feel proud of myself for turning my life around and getting myself sober. And I do. But I do still feel sad when I look back at my drinking years. What the hell was I doing?

I’m reading Lena Dunham’s memoir at the moment (she’s the totally awesome creator of the TV show ‘Girls’, a very cool, smart woman) and it’s great. She trawls back over her slightly chaotic/shambolic early years and recounts all manner of embarrassing or silly mistakes she made. But I was reading it aware that her words weren’t tinged with judgement or regret, there was an affectionate warmth to her tone - exemplified in this line…

I can never be who I was. I can simply watch her with sympathy, understanding, and some measure of awe. 

I love this. Such radical self-acceptance.  And with @twinkle’s line also echoing in my mind, I want to reframe how I look back at my life – particularly all the boozing I did. I want to feel kindly toward my past boozy self. I don’t want to carry the broken pieces of yesterday around with me.

I want to feel kindly towards the old-boozy-me, I want to understand that she feels deeply and doesn’t know how to process tough emotions,  I want to admire her stamina and her desire to make life fun, I want to sympathise that she’s unaware of the impact her heavy, steady boozing is having on her whole experience of life…but most of all I want to look back at her and feel hopeful and proud, because I know she’s going to turn things around…….

What about you? How can you re-frame how you look back at your past drinking self, so that you feel kindly – not judgmental – about the ‘you’ that you once were?

27 comments

  1. I am currently on Day 3. This past year has been awful. My brother died unexpectedly, and mother and mother-in-law were both placed in a nursing home for Alzheimers. I have a new boss. I have 4 teens. I felt that due to all that, it’s ok that I drink. My sister-in-law called me out during our recent vacation. I stated, “I’m on vacation!!!” My husband called me out and I said, “You can lecture me when your sibling dies”. My daughter called me out and I said, “it’s been a bad year”. She said very tenderly…”mom. I remember this happening when I was seven.” Ouch. She is now 17. That was it. That was my moment. I never want to forget how it felt hearing those words…

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  2. Yes, I think a huge part of it is realizing that what’s behind us, whatever happened and whatever we did is what it is and cannot be changed. We must live in today, not yesterday, and if we are today trying to make a positive change then we should be willing to begin to try to forgive ourselves. It’s hard though :). I am trying right now to forgive myself for letting another Day 1/Day 2 go down the drain. So now another Day 2 and trying to look with a positive view at today and tomorrow, without letting myself be chained to the regret and shame of yesterday.

    I’m not far enough into this stint of sobriety to be able to look at myself for the last 15 months without being disappointed, angry, self-loathing. I need to put a few days together that I feel proud of, or at least better about. But I do remember that when I was sober for 2.5 years, I got to a place where I could empathize with the woman who did the things I did and try to forgive her. And I know today I get another chance to be the woman I want to be (the one I REALLY am) who is a good mother, a good friend, a good wife, a good person. To do that, I have to end – forever – my relationship with wine. I’m here because I’m committed to doing that.

    Hugs,

    SR

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  3. Thank you for this wonderful post @mrs. d. I just found this site and it’s so incredible! For me, when I would think about all the dumb, dangerous, embarrassing things I did, as a mother, a wife, a daughter, a friend, I would just keep on drinking to further push down the awful guilt and shame. But now, with the help and support of kindred souls, I can have compassion for that scared, desperate mother, wife, daughter and friend. She tried so hard for so long to medicate her depression and perfectionism and maybe she was also genetically predisposed to follow that path of alcohol misuse, who knows. Whatever the reasons, thanks for encouraging me that I no longer have to live like that. And I too, will try not to drag around those “broken pieces” of the past- thanks @twinkie.

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    1. @J.C. Welcome! Everything you just wrote could be written by me so thank you for your wonderful post! I did so many dumb, dangerous, embarrassing things while I was drinking that when the next day came I would just start all over again to in your exact words ” to further push down the awful guilt and shame.” I have also medicated for WAY too long to try and numb myself. So now at Sober Day 75 I realize how much better life is without the poison of alcohol. It is SO MUCH BETTER!!!! I also know that I am a much better mother, girlfriend, daughter, and friend without that poison. I also will not be too hard on that boozy girl because she was sad. She was sad for so many reasons. Now it is time to “deal with life” and that is EXACTLY what I am doing. So to treat myself for 75 days sober I am going to buy myself an IPAD. My VERY own IPAD… that the children are NOT allowed to use. It is all mine to keep Mrs. D close at hand all the times. Happy New Year everyone. 2015 is going to ROCK because we are SOBER!!!! Love you all!!!

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  4. Hmmm…I think that I will place “retail therapy” in my tool box, as well!

    Mrs. D, I read Lena Dunham’s memoir…one of the quotes that really stuck with me was one her father told her- “Drunk emotions are not true emotions”. Or, words to that effect.

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  5. Great post @mrs-d, written so beautifully. Both you and Twinkle put it so well. My resolution for 2015 is, less guilt, more giggles. Really feeling the need to just stop the self bashing. Wishing you an yours a Very Happy Healthy New Year!

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  6. ” I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people that we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering at the mind’s door at 4:00 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends.”
    Joan Didion “Slouching Toward Bethlehem” …..
    this says it much more perfectly than I could….we have to make amends with all our former selves and love and embrace them for who they were, what they knew….yes and to be in awe of their carefree youth and sweet naïveté ….we are who we are right now, because of who we were….yes, I also loved what @twinkle said about not carrying our broken pieces of yesterday around today….we don’t have to carry this burden….sobriety can be light if we let it.

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  7. Wow…I am going to remember that line @twinkle…”I will not carry the broken pieces of yesterday around with me.” So powerful and so true and so necessary. I look back at all my years of drinking and while feeling sad and shameful of all the times I checked out of my life, I am slowly realizing that I did this as a way of self preservation. My spirit was so damaged that the drinking gave me a sense of control…even though now I know that to not be true…at the time it was all I had. Now I know better, now I can do better, and now I am embracing my life. This new me is forgiving, accepting and ready to live life fully present. So, while I will always carry that old me with me, I can be at peace with it. And now I can fully live my life the way it was meant to be…it is never too late.

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    1. that’s a great point @jo14. It’s all we had at the time to cling onto and it was a way of self preservation. We can’t resent ourselves for trying to survive.

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  8. I have to say that as much as I regret my drinking days, it makes me a happier person today. Had I not lived through 10 years or so of hangovers, every Saturday and Sunday morning almost without fail, every single holiday off work was taken so I could nurse a hangover, not to enjoy a nice day off, then I wouldn’t be waking up every weekend and holiday morning now, feeling this amazing buzz that I’m no longer waking up to wasted days feeling ill. I think the best way to sum it up is, you HAVE to experience the lowest lows, in order to feel the highest highs. Which is exactly how I feel these days without wine in my life. As much as I hate to think of those wasted days, and boy, there are so goddam many of them, I don’t think I’d appreciate life as much as i do now without those days. I now appreciate even the most mundane of days that I certainly wouldn’t have done without knowing that hangover days are a hell of a lot worse than a mundane day. What I’m saying is, don’t beat yourself up for what you used to do, it’s made you the person you are today. Hopefully a really happy one.

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    1. @Hart I know what you mean there. That feeling of getting up at 4 in the morning for the toilet, I get a little sense of smugness as I walk to the bathroom, a little wry smile even, as I remember the amount of times I’ve made that walk with the symptoms you describe. It would seem really silly in all honesty, wouldn’t it, to anyone who hasn’t been through it, that we can take such great pleasure from such small things as this. But I truly do. It’s been nearly 6 weeks since I last experienced that awful hangover feeling, and I still get that little sense of pleasure with each tiny little details such as that. Long may it last.

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    2. I love this Davey, i can totally relate!! That moment in the night wen i wake (for the loo run) & the realisation hits, no headbanging screaming headache, no lurching nausious stomach, no madly swallowing painkillers etc, no – flip what did i say – moments, & that same luvly moment on waking in the morning, yipeee im feeling good, better than good, not hungover, bring on even those mundane days i say!!!

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  9. I really love those ideas, and I know it is so important. I have managed to do some of that with my childhood – yet to start in on the shambolic later years – good word, shambolic. I think I was in a semi trance a great deal of the time, things just happening, spinning along dragging me, but I thought I was shaping my life.
    Love the ‘hopeful and proud that she is going to turn things around’ – and how!!!!
    Radical self acceptance, :)

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  10. I want to say to her “I totally understand why you shut down as a kid, and why you kept shutting down and numbing out as an adult. You were overwhelmed, unsupported, and felt incredibly sad, vulnerable, alone. You were just protecting yourself, going underground. And I’m so proud of you that in spite of all that, you kept going — you got a good career going, you took an active interest in your spirit and soul, you were a good friend, you were creative, you were a brave traveller, and you were always looking for a way to find yourself again. And now you have! Welcome back, welcome home. You are awesome.” XX Love ME.

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    1. Wow I only just read that now @sueK. It made me cry. I have hundreds of pics on my phone and a couple of months ago my friend was looking thru them and then said to me she couldn’t see one of me without drinking eyes.
      Every event, every moment I was filling myself up with booze.
      I want to accept and understand that sadness that got drowned.
      Thank you so much for your always insightful words. Xo

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    2. I think everyone’s looking for love and acceptance and booze kind of fills in that gap if we can’t find it elsewhere. Problem is it’s a poor substitute and not sustainable.

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