Friday, 15 January 2010

Meeting one

Speak of the devil - I was told my appointment would be in the post and there it was waiting for me, letting me know to go along this morning.

As you might have gathered from yesterday's posts, a feeling of isolation and disconnection from the group has dominated me recently. I've tried to explain this to people but it seems to be one of those feelings that can only be understood while it is underway, after which it is hurriedly filed away using selective memory to black it out.

Being able to talk about this to someone was very helpful. I explained how since cutting down on the things I do I've had a lot of empty time, and about the challenges that presents. I talked about the day I told my mum and how I struggled with my dad. I mentioned how in the last few weeks no-one has spoken to me about it and how I feel totally on my own whenever it's on my mind, like a forgotten case. She picked up on that pretty quickly and I made sure she knew how much I appreciate having her to talk to. Without her to aim for I think I'd be going mad with no release for my own thoughts, no alternative opinion to counter mine, no new input.

She also thought, after I'd gone on a minutes-long ramble, that it's important to me how people see me. That stumped me for a little while as it came out of the blue; at the time my train of thought was heading elsewhere, but there must have been something I said without thinking. It made me wonder how much I want to change people's perceptions of me, and I did realise I've been getting very frustrated by the efforts I've put in over the last month which only I can see the rewards of. I've talked about it with a few people but then there's been no more feedback and I guess it is frustrating knowing that you've put effort in to improve yourself but no-one seems to notice. Now, and I said this to her, I know that I'm in this alone and I don't expect anything from anyone. In fact the last few weeks have been a course of shock therapy in cutting off ties with people I'm close to, and as lonely as it gets it's better than waiting around for other people to do a job for you. The conclusion I came to was that people's perceptions of me do matter because at the moment I think they're out of line with who I really am and I feel angry that changes I'm making aren't getting me visibly far. As I said to her: "it'd be nice for one person to put something in writing just so I know what they thought about what I'm doing." I feel like a donkey chasing an invisible carrot.

She had quite a lot of encouraging words for me after I showed her my drinking diary from the last week, which was good to hear. Everything's been so downbeat that I feel like the only ever comment about me and drinking is negative, and anything good or normal I do goes without mention. The vast majority of the time I do act normally, it's just the times I go too far I'm working on with her help. One of the habits of my lifetime is making my own problems more difficult for myself by being open and honest about them - I always seem to think that people will appreciate honesty and be able to deal with it, but really it's just telling people stuff they don't want to hear. Take this, for example. I could have dealt with it by force of will, made apologies for the past and gone from there. Instead I chose to detail every flaw in my character on here and go to see an alcohol advisory team, which instantly elevates it in people's mind into a different category of problem. I do keep my mouth shut about the majority of troubles (who really wants to hear them?) and the character flaws of other people, but whenever I say something it comes back to bite me. Maybe I should shut up and keep everything between me and her.

I've been thinking too about how having a drink changes me, and what other people's perceptions of me then are. This was one of the main reasons I went to see those people, because I needed an external sense of perspective on myself and my situation. It is impossible to tell from within - I need other opinions to get to the truth. I think one of the things that people and me have always struggled with is that there's quite a sharp comparison between how much I bite my tongue while sober compared to while drunk. While sober I hold back from all kinds of personal insults, comments and opinions, purely because I like to keep the peace and find it very easy to be tolerant and let things go. I very rarely get into arguments and loath the ceaseless pointless contradictions couples fall into, so try my best to avoid those. A few beers weakens this though and suddenly I'm not the reserved tolerant one, I'm expressing opinions and dissatisfaction with things that normally I would just let go. I'm not like a drunk who "gets a bit loud" and people have a cheap laugh at his expense, I'm someone who's amiable enough to get on with nearly everyone I've met despite my shyness, who after a drink starts challenging people, and I don't think people like the unexpected contrast.

Anyway, that's another thought nugget to chip away at. I recommended a friend have a crack at one of these semi-anonymous blogs yesterday because it's strangely cathertic to express these things to an unknown audience.

Let's finish on some high notes from the past few weeks, anyway. I deserve the odd moment of feeling slightly happy with what I've managed.
  • I had a drink and didn't touch a drop the next day.
  • I went out for an afternoon and just had a few halves with the odd pint, and went home in a fine mood.
  • I haven't made myself ill or missed any work.
  • I kept a clear head and did plenty of revision for my first exam, which went very well.
  • I haven't entered into any drunken poorly-informed arguments.
  • I've avoided drinking during moments of boredom.
  • I went to watch the football, had a couple of drinks then went home, made a brew and had supper rather than go looking for another drink.
  • I've done all this on my own.

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