The Real Me
I’ve always been shy.
Believe it or not. But I am. I “fake it” when I have to, like when I have to get up in front of a classroom and teach English. Or when I have to get up in front of a bunch of senior citizens and talk about the train wreck portions of my life. I’ve always been shy. It hasn’t gone away.
I’ve just learned to adapt…learned to accept it and work with it as much as I can. I try to calm myself down and tell myself whatever it is I have to do, or where or to whom I have to speak, that it’ll all be okay. And it always is.
I think I’m getting better at it…fake it ‘til you make it, right? It just intrigues me that the way I see myself can differ so drastically from the way others see me. For a while there, when I was drinking and partying a lot, I became known as the crazy one, the outgoing one, the outrageous one. So I embraced that role and convinced myself that that’s who I was. Strangely, once alcohol was out of the picture, I returned to who I really am, and that’s been…interesting…and kind of fun…and very confusing.
Being an alcoholic affects you day and night, whether you’re drinking or not. Or, at least, it did me. I think my behavior became more “shocking,” maybe, even when I was sober, so I could justify the things I did when I was drunk…I didn’t have a drinking problem…I was just a crazy, fun person in the first place. Well, maybe fun. But not crazy to the extent that I was when I was drunk. That was a whole other level of insanity.
In order for me to keep drinking, I had to start merging the sober me to match the drunk me to show everyone that I was fine.
Every day after a night of binge drinking, without fail, I’d be hungover, sometimes suicidally depressed, crying, hating myself. I so often didn’t even remember exactly what happened the night before, but I knew it wasn’t good.
I’m not sure why I didn’t quit sooner than I did. Because I definitely could have. I think my behavior was just rationalized by me and even some people around me who made me feel that I was okay. Everyone does stupid shit, they said. Everyone has crazy nights. Everyone meets a 56-year-old at the bar who shows you pictures of their grandchildren and then follows you into the bathroom for a heated make-out session.
That’s not normal.
So many crazy, surreal nights like that…they sometimes come at me from different angles, at lightning speed, bombarding my brain to the point of exhaustion. They replay in my mind, what I can remember from all the blackouts, and I can’t believe that girl was even me. Not for a second. That wasn’t me.
That’s not me.
I got to the point where I started thinking the drunk me was the real me. All these inhibitions I’d been repressing came out when I drank, right? So those things must be what I really want…right?
Well now that I’m sober, I can express with an unequivocal NO…I didn’t want any of those things. I was drinking myself to the point that it didn’t matter who the guy was, where we were…etc. I just wanted to forget my problems and thrive on excitement…
Hence the bipolar diagnosis. When I’m drunk/manic, it’s all about pleasure-seeking. The consequences are not even on the radar. It’s me me me now now now more more more. And it only stops when the hangover/depression sets in. And then I just want to die.
So I decided to change. It hasn’t been easy…by any means. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done. But I never ever want to go back to sleeping by the toilet or yelling mean things at my husband when I’m drunk. I’m okay being me now, the sober me.
The shy me.