Things have been a little bit complicated lately. Before I say any more than that, let me be clear: they’ve only been complicated because of my own bad choices. I am, and always have been, my own worst enemy. I am overly fond of women and alcohol, and I have a pattern of self-destructive behavior.
It had been a long time since I’d been involved with anyone, but about a month ago, I met someone. She was pretty amazing, but I ruined it with my own poor decision-making. I couldn’t really even tell you how many times I’ve done that in the past.
This was probably the most painful break-up I’d ever experienced. I stayed sober for almost a week in an effort to earn her forgiveness, but my apology was declined, which was understandable. I started drinking again, and I also resumed my habit of cutting as a way to deal with my emotions. I had never cut so frequently and visibly in my life.
I’ve been on a downward spiral since then, destroying friendships and drinking myself slowly to death. I lost a close friend last night (again, my own fault), but this time, it didn’t affect me in the same way. There was the brief sensation of nausea and clamminess which accompanied the realization of what had happened – but almost directly afterward, my pattern of thinking began to change.
Instead of driving to the liquor store to purchase my customary two bottles of vodka, I asked myself: What can I do to repair this situation? My friend is gone, there’s no way to get her back, but I don’t want to fixate on that. After the breakup last month, I cried and moaned for weeks, convincing myself that I would never find anyone like her again. That my own behavior didn’t matter anymore, because I had already destroyed the only thing that I thought mattered to me.
But hindsight is an interesting thing, because of course I see now that my thinking was completely illogical. Other people will always come into your life, for however long you’re on this earth, and some of them you are really going to care about. When I care about someone, I have a tendency to lose perspective of myself, which is where the problem always arises.
So I said to myself: I can’t undo what I’ve already done. I will always regret it, but I also want to be able to forgive myself for it. Living in the past, and dwelling on the mistakes I made, would make it impossible to move forward in life. I’ve been stuck in the same place for a long time, sometimes even taking several steps backward.
I have a friend who gives me a lot of good advice that I never tend to follow. If I were her, I probably would have bludgeoned me with a blunt object years ago, but for some reason she’s never done that. When I was upset, she told me: “Instead of living for other people, live for yourself. Do things because they’re the right things for you, not for anyone else. Stop investing so much in people.”
At the time, I didn’t agree with any of these words. She and I are very different people, so our view on the subject will probably never be exactly the same, but today her words make a lot more sense to me. If I can’t be the best version of myself, for myself, then how can I have anything to offer anyone else? I would basically just be extending an invitation for people to stare at themselves in a mirror. When people look at me, they should see who I am as an individual, not a reflection of their own face.
Today, I made the choice to quit drinking again. Just because I fell off the wagon, that doesn’t mean I can’t get back on. Same friend once said to me (after inquiring if I was going to flip out on her for saying it): “You give up too easily. A blip is a blip – not a reason to go all the way back to the place where you started.” I will never be able to maintain control while drinking, like some other people can. And if I can’t be in control, I’ll continue to make all the same mistakes I’ve been making since I was a teenager.
I’m thirty-one years old, and if I don’t change something now, my life will have been wasted. I’ve already wasted so much of it. I don’t know what will happen tomorrow – but today I choose to heed my friend’s advice. (I’ve told her she should consider a career in motivational speaking, by the way.)