No sooner than I click ‘publish’ on a post where I just conclude I have nothing much to say today, do lots of thoughts of the hmm variety bounce into my head. And it’s the sort of hmm that I fear might run into an essay of gigantic proportions, but I’m actually quite curious as to what others might do.
For those of us who work the 12 steps as part of our sober journey, we will eventually encounter step 8 and 9. These steps involve listing everyone who’s been affected by your fucked-upness and then proceeding to apologise to each one and offer to make amends unless it’d make things worse to do so. As much as those people who have been wronged deserve an apology, I think it also lightens the burden for the wrong-doer. Even if the harm done can never be forgiven, never mind undone, at least you can walk away knowing you faced up what you did wrong. We can’t force anyone to accept an apology but surely it’s better to take full responsibility for our actions, plus it will feel better too. It might not change a thing in terms of the other party’s anger and/or resentment towards us, but I think it makes a huge difference to how we feel to have at least made an effort to right our wrongs.
In my case I think the easiest way to create an accurate list would be to note down every single person I know and had any dealings with during the years when my alcoholism was in full swing and then strike off the few I didn’t hurt. Where I’ll draw a line will be an interesting dilemma because why create potential awkwardness when all there is to it might just be that someone’s been a bit annoyed? Perhaps just focus on when I’ve actually upset people.
One such person is Friction, named that way because she and I always rubbed each other up the wrong way. She is the only person in the world I have had an actual friendship with that ended because we both agreed it wasn’t a good one. As I imagine many of us do, I have had friends where we’ve just grown apart or away, but this one ended because it was a bit crappy. I have no interest in having this person in my life again and nor do I think she’d want to start hanging out again, but when we parted ways one of the things she did say was that she felt I didn’t prioritise her. And I didn’t. I’d often cancel at the eleventh hour. I suspect this made Friction feel like I didn’t value her as a friend, which you can hardly blame her for if this is indeed the case. And that’s what I want her to know. Because as a friend she’s great – 100% one of those people you could call in the middle of the night and she’d hop in the car or what have you to be there for you. And I did always look forward to seeing her because we’d often have a really nice time. That’s what my apology would be – to tell Friction I am sorry if I made her feel I didn’t give a shit about her and this wasn’t the case at all.
The tricky bit is I don’t fucking like her! I was intensely uncomfortable with at times socialising with our husbands in tow and having to look her husband in the eye knowing that she over the years had been sleeping with her boss in return for promotions and pay rises and other financial favours. I couldn’t stand her obsession with status and titles (which I guess drove the boss fuckery in the first place) and really resented her when she told me about all these things in a sort of gleeful way that almost suggested she expected me to be impressed. It was ugly. One year hubby and I met up with Friction and her husband for Christmas drinks. Her hubby made a joke about how much her boss was in love with her, a joking remark about how close they were and which might have been funny had she not been fucking him. Instead there we were, forcing a smile and a chuckle at his joke yet everyone but him knew and I felt absolutely awful. My husband and I walked away feeling really uncomfortable, I remember hubby at the time telling me “I can’t do that again, poor guy“. It was quite bad and the fact that Friction’s husband was a thoroughly nice guy and super sweet didn’t help either.
So she’s actually a person I am quite pleased to no longer have anything to do with. But I made her feel bad and unimportant and that’s obviously not right. What would you do here? The reason I so often cancelled was because I was either too hungover to leave the house or in the process of drinking again – the same reason why I cancelled a million other things when my alcoholism was at its worst, and why she was one of countless friends I’ve let down because I’ve been too wrecked to show up. I mean, that still warrants an apology. And I also don’t like the idea that someone feels bad when it’s my drinking that’s to blame and nothing else.
Then again, I assume her life is just like mine when it comes to our friendship and better without me in it just like my life is better without her. Do I, for example, care what she might think of me now or thought of me then? Not one bit. I assume she doesn’t give a toss about whether I prioritised her or not – clearly it pissed her off (or even hurt her) at the time but to trudge it up now? I don’t see how there is anything to fix. In fact, I would possibly say this is when it’d cause more bad feelings than good to go back there. The only thing that has her popping up on my list is that she at the time said she felt I didn’t give a shit about her and it sort of seems like the right thing to do to say I did, that it was just that she was up against my drinking and let’s face it, no one won on that score.
I think this is where I let sleeping dogs lie. I would be interested to hear what others would do though. No matter what I think of her, it’s wrong she felt that way, but would it really be right to poke at something that’s long gone and over with? And when we’re both better without the other?
Today is a good day. I am sober and I can fulfill all my commitments. I don’t feel too shit to turn up for anything. It’s fucking awesome and long may it continue!