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Day 24: Steering Clear

“Being misunderstood by people whose opinions you value is absolutely the most painful”
– Gloria Steinem

I’m old enough to have had a good amount of experience facing the hard knocks that life dishes up.  And, boy, these last couple of years have been doozies.

However, I have come to a not very interesting conclusion when it comes to the booze.  Life can be just plain hard no matter what you are doing or how you are drinking.   I’ve found giving alcohol up once in a while usually provides some clarity about life issues. At least it does for me, painful as these issues might be.

Now I’ve struggled with a lot of stuff but this singular personality problem I possess comes around again and again like a broken record. Jefferson once said, “The art of life is the art of avoiding pain; and he is the best pilot, who steers clearest of the rocks and shoals with which it is beset.”  But what if you are using a substance to avoid pain?

So, with that, I’ll disclose one of my biggest challenges.  I’d like to work on it as sort of a New Year’s resolution (or something like it since I hate resolutions).

I come from a family that was scornful, disrespectful and generally unloving.   My childhood was lonely and scary and I always felt on my own.  So, I wasn’t raised with the skill set needed to survive rejection – of any kind but more specifically, professionally.  For example, as an adult, when I was accepted into an elite graduate school program, no one in my family congratulated me or even acknowledged this accomplishment.  (Bless my spouse who supported me at the time.) And, to my astonishment, I was an outstanding student.   But at the end of grad school I was passed over for graduation awards due to the internal political machinations of the institution and the cutthroat faculty at the time.   I was not a player in their game and I was powerless to address it.  So, I had to recover from their omission, accepting that it was them and not me, etc.   And I had to work very hard at not internalizing the rejection.

Recently and inevitably, you might say, rejection happened to me again.  This time in a high profile civic organization in which I’ve been pretty active for the last decade or so. I was completely ignored for the work I did on a project.  I brought some needed recognition to the organization and even elevated its status in the public eye.  But I might as well have been a potted palm instead of a valued member.  And, again, I have had to overcome my usual intense self- doubt which follows.  I am uncomfortable blowing my own horn. I just pick up my trumpet and leave.

So, throughout my life this scenario plays out over and over again.  The circumstances and people change but my painful reactions remain the same.  I seek attention from employers or individuals that are simply not going to give it.  And I sulk and usually navigate my emotions to the land of depression and self-reproach.  I isolate, too.  I get sick.

“And what is the salve for my thin skin?” you might ask.  You guessed it – a good ole drinkiepoo.  And it works pretty well, pretty often.  And although I’m not the only person on earth who deals with their emotional life this way – I can see how it won’t continue working in the long run if I want to address this rejection thing in any serious way.  A break from alcohol altogether is so beneficial if you are involved in some form of self-improvement or therapy.

Although I moderated my alcohol intake in December, I still looked forward to a dry January (Dryuary) because I knew I’d be able to work on myself in ways I am normally unmotivated to do if there is a cocktail to check out with at the end of the day. This year, I really want to evolve into someone that can navigate life with more peace and self-acceptance.

Post Submitted By: Cora OHara, MM Listserv Member

4 thoughts on “Day 24: Steering Clear

  1. Horse Lover

    Cora, your point about removing alcohol in order to really work on issues is near and dear to my heart as well. It became so easy for so many years to use alcohol as a “salve” when all it really is is topical anaesthetic. It only masks the pain for awhile and then I’m back to it. This particular Dryuary has been the most helpful one for me. Thanks for being on the journey with us.

  2. Rabbit

    Well said Cora…I think all of us are (or should be) dealing with some sort of self-improvement or therapy.

    Giving up alcohol, even for a break, really does help with my clarity of mind.

  3. Polly

    Great post, thanks. I am glad to read about some of the same things that I struggle with. I have also had some very hard professional knocks that have taken the wind out of my sails and made me feel sucker punched. These setbacks are hard to recover from because they mess with my identity. These setbacks have deepened my insecurities and inability to speak up and argue critically. Not drinking is such a struggle because a drinkiepoo lightens my psychic load after a hard day, but I’m grateful for not drinking because I can work on the real me. Keep writing more, please.

  4. Raul

    Wow Ms. OHara hang in there! You seem to be so unappreciated, but as long as you appreciate yourself and know the hard work you put into things, that’s all that matters. Screw what other people do or say, I’ve been in your shoes before but whatever, I’m not there to please everyone, just the ones closest to me, I do good at my job, and always try to do the right things in every situation , but not for recognition, because it’s what’s right.

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