On Sunday I went for a hike with a woman from work. She has become a dear friend in the last several years. It is fun to hang out with a mental health professional. We were talking about another friend - in a loving way, of course. (Mercy, I hope no one from work reads this so they can shake their finger at me and tell me they know who I am talking about!) My friend said that the other woman's mother had been critical of her and she thinks that voice is always present in her mind. She overcompensates by always talking about how great she is.
I have that ever present voice too. It is funny how it never goes away. I am now older than my mother was when she died. My mother has been dead for 67% of my life - and that is a long time. But the messages she sent me live on.
Let me be quick to tell you that I don't think she was bad intentioned. I think she honestly thought she was teaching me how to have good social skills and most of all, how to behave in a stylish, socially acceptable manner. I do not have these natural abilities, and I always failed. I still have terrors when I have to write a thank you note because I am certain that I am going to bungle it so badly that I will offend the person and they will never want to even know me anymore. I have to talk myself through this. There is no wrong way to say "thank you." A thank you note that says "thank you" on the front will not offend most people. It has never offended me when I have gotten them. My mother had rules for everything (such as - never use a thank you note that says "thank you" on the front) that I never, ever, ever, understood. I still don't.
I think that aside from my genetic disposition to alcoholism (which I firmly believe I have), I had a strong desire to just be a rude lout and give up on all those rules of behavior that I never understood. I understood being in a bar, laughing and joking. I could be the "belle of the ball" in a seedy bar without any difficulty whatsoever.
So, I am now nearly 59 years old, I have been sober for 44% of my life. I have done all twelve steps numerous times. I have made my amends, including to my mother, and I have found peace. I no longer feel like a tortured soul. (I have also been through years of therapy - but I credit the steps with the fact that I have peace.) I behave like a well-adjusted, healthy human being most of the time.
But when my friend talked about that critical voice, I thought about the fact that it really is still present. We later when to a running store where she talked me into buying a magnet for my car that says "26.2" Oh! I told her! I cannot put that on my car! "why not?" she asked me. I told her that I was so slow, and besides, that "26.2" thing is "boastful." The runner shop guy got into the argument and told me I should be proud that I ran a marathon! It is a huge accomplishment. Immediately, I want to tell him - "yeah, but I was so slow!" My friend kept talking, and I bought the thing. She helped me put it on my car. I thought I would take it off later, and maybe I will, but for now, it is there.
I just have to talk back. I really do. It really is work. I cannot just get up in the morning and sail through life like others seem to. There is a lot of maintenance involved in keeping my life on an even keel. I have talked about this many, many times here - I usually call it being "high maintenance." Maintenance such as prayer, meditation, good healthy food, good healthy amount of sleep each night, quiet time each day, positive people in my life, exercise, fresh air and sunshine. Obviously, as an alcoholic, I need to be an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, and for this blog post, I am going to assume you know what that means.
So, critical voice might now tell me "you have just sat at your computer in your pajamas for an hour - you need to get to work!" but kinder voice will tell me that "you have just written a wonderful piece that might be helpful to someone, why don't you go take a nice bath before you go to your nice office with that pretty rosebud in it?"
I think I will have a great sober day. God loves me and I think he has been able to do some good stuff with me!