Changing the Rules...
Updated: Aug 24, 2022
I had a conversation yesterday with a friend who accused me of changing the rules. And I guess she is right. I am changing the rules. But a more honest truth is that I have been playing with different rules all along...I just have this tendency to not share all the rules I am playing by with others. I tend to keep some of the rules to myself...and while dishonest, it was just how I did things until yesterday.
The truth is that I have been uncomfortable for years with the status quo. But I never said anything because I knew that it would likely be the end of the relationships. That me being honest about how I felt about the drinking and drugging would likely cause a rift that was irreparable. And it would appear that I am likely right.
And I think I am changing the rules, and that is because I cannot go on with the old ones. And finally, as sad as this makes me to admit, I finally have enough self esteem to say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
I love these people. I really do. I care for them, about them but to engage in the manner that I have been is painful to me and my acceptance and participation has been sustained over the years because of my silence on this one very touchy subject.
I was accused yesterday of spinning stories in my head that weren’t true. And I have done that before. But I am not doing it now, not any more than anyone else. Always I am thinking and feeling things based upon whatever is going down now, which might not stand up to facts later revealed.
Here is the my current truth: my willingness to allow, and even tangentially participate with other who are drinking and drugging to excess is the only reason I am still involved in that friend group. If I would have drawn a line years ago, we would have never likely gotten where we are today. It was my willingness to set aside my thoughts and feelings about drinking that allowed us to continue the friendship until now. And for whatever reason, I just can’t do it anymore.
I am sober. I lead a sober life. I participate in recovery things and I do my best to take care of myself, in all the ways. To make sure that my physical sobriety is supported and carried by emotional sobriety. I do not expect others to follow or really even care. It isn’t their path. It isn’t their life. It is my addiction, my responsibility.
I can and do go places where alcohol is served. Not often and not because I like anything that goes on in this places. I go, most often, to listen to music and endure and put up with all the attendant personalities and messed up behavior as being something I can’t avoid if I want to hear the music. And sometimes, I am willing to endure it just to hear the music.
What is coming up for me now, is that I am changing the rules. I do not want to participate in drunken weekends where I am surrounded with people I really do love, but I can’t relate to because they are on some other plane that if I try to go to, I will destroy myself. And when I surround myself in this way, I feel lonely and alone and apart from. And yes, maybe it is me. Of course it is. I am the one with the problem. And part of my ongoing problem is that I keep pretending that it isn’t a problem.
What I realized yesterday in this conversation is that I never had enough self esteem to ask for what I needed. I just accepted the default rules of engagement because I didn’t know that I had another choice...or perhaps even more honestly, I believed that me asking for what I needed couldn’t or wouldn’t be supported, so I didn’t ask. Which I realize now was super unfair to all involved.
Perhaps now, finally, I have enough self esteem to say, “this is not ok with me. I do not want to be mired in it. I do not want to engage in this way. I am not going to do it anymore.”
And I fear that is the end of the friendships. And that makes me sad. Because I love all of them. I care about them. I want good things for them. But I can see that my needing to be a part of them, at the cost of my own self esteem and care, has put us all in this precarious position that has caused the recent crisis. And it is an old pattern for me.
I have lied. I have hidden the truth. I have failed to own that which I felt, hiding it because I feared, perhaps rightly, that if I really told the truth, that it would be the end of it. That I would be cast out and away because my truth, MY truth, doesn’t work in that reality.
And I have cut that deal a lot. And it is time that I stopped. If I am going to engage in relationships, I should be able to say and be who I am, even when that is inconvenient, or obstinate or goes against the grain, and those people who I am relating to, get to decide whether or not they want to continue to engage with me. And at least, I will have been the real me, instead of some codependent dressed up version of myself where I hide how I really feel and what I really think.
I have been dishonest. I have lied. I have said that things were ok when they were not. I do not hold others accountable for now being upset with me for changing the rules. That is an appropriate reaction. I get that perhaps this is easily dismissed as me spinning stories...but perhaps, just maybe, this is me finally willing to be honest and vulnerable and willing to be rejected for who I am.
For the first time in perhaps ever, I am willing to allow people in far enough to tell them the truth. And that truth, once uttered, may end the friendship. And I am ok with that. Because for me the love goes on. I care and love these people. They are important to me and I am so grateful to them and for them. But I am not ok with some of the things that occur in the friendship and I have to have the courage of my convictions and say it, out loud. Which is terrifying because my experience is that when I tell the truth...people leave.
And today, I guess I am ok with that. If they leave. I would rather them cut me loose and we all move on in whatever direction our lives lead us...and to know that the fracture happened because I was honest, than to continue another 30 years with my lying.
I wish that I could have told the truth sooner. But I couldn’t. I didn’t have the self esteem to. And as sad as that is, it is the most honest truth I have.
I am an alcoholic. And that lifestyle almost killed me for years. And I do not want to participate in it anymore. It doesn’t work for me. And I cannot be me and do it anymore. And I realize that this is changing the rules, but in truth, it isn’t because I haven't always felt this way, I was too scared to admit it before because I feared the end if I did.
And that was bullshit on my part.
I can’t go back and change the past. But I can be honest now. I can say, “I don’t like it and I am not going to participate anymore.” So I am.
I wish I would have had the self esteem to do it prior. I wish I wasn’t changing the rules, but I am and I am doing it just as soon as I realized what I was doing...
I am not all better. So many of my choices and decisions are based upon codependent bullshit. So many of my relationships born out of a toxic need to be accepted and loved and to fit in. And so for a long time now, I have said what I thought people wanted to hear... and didn’t really look at that behavior as being dishonest....
So the rules I am changing are my own. I am going to say how I feel and what I think. And the people who are close enough to hear them get to decide that they don’t want to hear it, don’t want to accept it and they choose not to engage anymore. And that is ok. I love them still. But I love me more. And I will not throw myself out, hiding all that I feel and think in order to still be accepted. They will either be able to love me and accept me for who I am, or they won’t.
And for the first time in my life, I am ok with however it goes down. I do not need control or manipulate it into what I want. I do not even know what that is anymore. I am just willing to open up, say what I like and what I don’t, what I am wiling to tolerate and what I am not, and allow the chips to fall where they may.
And I have to say it is so nice not to be angry or afraid. And to be able to love myself and them at the same time. But to have my own back, being willing to own that which is hard, and painful and likely not popular.
Today I am changing the rules, not for them, but for me. And the consequences will be what they are. Today, I choose trust and love over dishonesty and fear. And I am relaxing into rules that feel better for me...while leaving enough space for those who the new rules effect to walk away or come closer to me and work it out. What I want for all of us is for us each to be ok within our own skins, even if that means that we do that separately, together...