“Do you ever feel you’ve become the worst version of yourself?”
-Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) in You’ve Got Mail
I am a sucker for a Meg Ryan romantic comedy. People say this movie was overrated or didn’t live up to the hype but I disagree. This quote from Joe, played by Tom Hanks, has always resonated with me. Is there really a true rock bottom for people? The lowest of the low…that as soon as it is happening or as soon as it is over, you know you have gotten there? I never really felt like I had become the worst version of myself until this weekend.
Some people who grow up with alcoholism in the home refuse to touch alcohol as adults. Some become alcoholics themselves. Others try to drink in moderation. I enjoy a glass of wine with friends or getting a little tipsy at a wedding. I try not to make a habit of it and I never drink when I am sad, stressed, or angry. I, of course, have some stories where I drank too much at a college party before I realized how to drink appropriately. I would never consider myself a partier now though. I like to remain in control of myself. My only dilemma is that I am a little obnoxious when I drink. I think everything I do is hilarious and that can be embarrassing. This weekend was no exception.
There was a big cookout fundraiser. There were hundreds of people and it was an open bar. My husband and I knew we were probably going to have more than a drink or two so we arranged for transportation (like the responsible adults that we are) and we had a great time. After the event, I told him I needed to go home. I knew my limit. He wanted to go downtown with his friends though so we went. In my usual fashion, I became the clown. My friend’s laughter only encouraged me.
When we got downtown, we were in a parking deck and a car was coming around the corner. I, for some reason, thought it would be hilarious to walk backwards next to the car. The car was going a little fast though so my backwards walk turned into a backwards jog. The people in the car found it hilarious and my friends were bending over laughing. Turns out that I am not very athletic and I fell down. I fell down HARD. I bounced up quickly because I was so humiliated and my friends kept laughing when I assured them I was okay. My husband knew something was wrong though.We went into the bar and I tried to hide how mortified I was.
No one was paying me any attention, thank god, because I started tearing up. I was so embarrassed. Why did I always need to be the center of attention? The group we were out with we had been friends with for years and they knew me and my family pretty well. I started worrying that they were judging me. I thought they were thinking that I was turning out like my parents, drunkenly behaving like a fool. I couldn’t handle it and I started crying. That’s right. I was the girl at the bar crying. My husband immediately ushered me out and we got a ride home. I couldn’t stop crying and I couldn’t even explain why I was so embarrassed, not because I was so drunk but because I didn’t even understand it myself.
My back hurt, my wrist hurt, my butt hurt, and my pride hurt the worst of all. I was better than that. I didn’t need to drink that much. I didn’t need to go to the bar afterwards. I really didn’t need to behave like my parents. My husband kept assuring me it was not a big deal but I felt terrible about myself. I truly felt concerned that I was turning into my mother. I felt in that moment, like Tom Hanks, that I was the worst version of myself.
When I sobered up the next day, I still felt bad. Physically and emotionally. I was embarrassed for falling, for crying, and for leaving so quickly. I was embarrassed that I put myself in a situation that made me behave so stupidly. I had never felt worse about myself. All I could think about was my friends talking about how I was turning into my mother…also that I needed an ice pack and ibuprofen immediately.
My husband, who loves me dearly, said that if my mom wasn’t an alcoholic, this wouldn’t have been a big deal. He said I wasn’t actually “falling down drunk”. I was just being silly and fell. He said it probably would have happened had I been sober. He may be right. I am genuinely clumsy. Maybe I was being too hard on myself? Just because my mom was an alcoholic doesn’t mean I am never allowed to drink or be stupid. I can still have fun nights without it meaning I am turning into an alcoholic. I am genuinely a pretty responsible drinker when I do drink, which isn’t often. BUT I still felt like a fool.
I hold myself to a higher standard because I know better. And my mom IS an alcoholic. That means I am more susceptible to falling into a dangerous pattern. I never want to feel as bad about myself as I did this weekend. I never want to give people the opportunity to say that I am turning out like my mom. It was a big wake up call for me. Then I realized, it wasn’t just the alcohol.
It is my CONSTANT need for attention. I thought I outgrew this in high school but it still bubbles up from time to time. Some flaws we struggled with as kids can reappear as adults when we aren’t coping with our stress. I am so mad at my mom right now because she isn’t addressing my concerns about her. I clearly was looking for attention elsewhere.
I am not going to quit drinking. I do enjoy a wine tasting with my girlfriends for special occasions and I like to have a beer at a cookout with friends. However, I know I am not going to be the crying girl in the bar anymore. I’m not in college. That isn’t cute. I am WAY too old for that. But if you want some unsolicited advice, don’t jog backwards sober or drunk. There are better ways to get attention.
For those of you who struggle with loved one’s addictions, do you drink? Do you ever fear you are turning into your loved one? Are you constantly worried that your behavior reflects your upbringing? I would love to hear from you!
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