A member here once wrote a powerful update about the crap day she'd had the day before. She'd managed her way through without drinking with the help of various strategies (chocolate, online shopping, ice-cream). 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." I thought this such 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 often just recall how hammered I was, 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 have in the past sometimes felt sad when I look back at my drinking years. What the hell was I doing?
But lately I've been turning that around. Lately I've decided not to look back with sadness and regret, but rather with kindness and hope. I can't change who I was. But I can regard her with sympathy, understanding and a huge measure of hope and awe.
In some ways this is radical self-acceptance. Reframing how I look back at my life and 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.
So now I feel warmly towards the old, boozy, me. She didn't know how to process tough emotions. She didn't know how to embrace all of life's ups and downs. She didn't know that it was important to let sadness, anger and other gritty emotions have their place.
I admire the stamina that the old me had, and her desire to make life fun. I sympathise that she was unaware of the impact her heavy, steady boozing was having on her whole experience of life.
But most of all I look back at the old me and feel hopeful and proud. Because I know that 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?