But I am not hurting anyone else!!

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Karla
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Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:10 am

But I am not hurting anyone else!!

Post by Karla » Mon Dec 09, 2019 11:51 am

But I am not hurting anyone else!!
December 9, 2019


Oh how many times I uttered and muttered and yelled and whispered and thought the statement above when confronted about my drinking. All I wanted, or at least thought I wanted, was for everyone to just leave me the hell alone about my drinking. Then, as the drinking worsened, all I wanted was for everyone to simply leave me the hell alone. As long as I had my drink, I was OK. I was not hurting anyone else. I knew it wasn't good for me and I knew, deep down, that I had a problem. But honest to God, I truly did not believe that my drinking was causing harm or risk to anyone else.

The problem is, when you drink like I did, there is a giant ripple effect. The ripple effect is a simple concept. Give someone a big smile and a compliment on their shoes, and that may just start their day off paying it forward, too. Yell at someone and make obscene gestures while honking your horn when somebody cuts you off in traffic, and that may just start their day off in a horrible mood which ultimately affects everyone they come in contact with for the rest of the day. There is a book related to alcoholism/substance abuse, titled "The Ripple Effect", by Fred H and published by Hazelden. It's amazing and really provided me with insight into how the smallest change that I make in my own attitude, ripples out into the world.

Do I want my ripple to be positive or negative? I have a choice. Now, at least. When I was drinking and in my active addiction, I no longer had the ability to stop drinking. Truly and honestly I could not stop, physically or emotionally. Although I felt that because I drank alone at home for the most part, that my drinking was not affecting anyone else.

I was incredibly wrong. I was tired, cranky, and hungover. I was neglectful of my children. I ignored phone calls. Bills were left unpaid and my credit suffered, yet I wouldn't answer calls from the creditors, which only made the situation worse. My work, which involves treating patients every day, certainly suffered because I was not my best self. Despite attempting to put on a happy face and chew gum and suck on mints to cover the alcohol smell, I was always itching to get done for the day so I could get home to the numb nothingness that solitary drinking provided to me.

Who did my drinking hurt? Patients, colleagues, friends, strangers, my parents, my sister, my children, my ex-husband, and God. But most of all, it hurt me. What did my drinking hurt? Everything. My mental health, physical health, financial health, and stability all went south. I was no longer an active participant in my own life. When I did venture out to work or for errands that got in the way of my drinking, I was unhappy and just plodded through it. Is it possible that no one else noticed my moods and it didn't affect anyone else negatively?

No way.

My drinking hurt everyone and everything around me.

But the ripple effect does not have to stop with issues related to drinking or not drinking. Of course, for me, it is much easier to be genuinely happy and positive and a good human being without alcohol. Even when I was drinking, I still thought I was a good person who was upbeat and tried to send good ripples. But it was an uphill battle just to be kind, because I felt like shit ALL THE TIME.

Now, sober from alcohol for six years, clear headed and who I want to be, I can totally see how a kind word, holding the door open, letting someone cut in front of you, paying it forward in the drive through, giving a homeless person something to eat, a hug, even just a smile - can affect people in ways I can't begin to know. It happens in reverse, too. When someone does something unexpectedly nice to or for me, my entire day changes. I walk with a little more pep in my step with my head held a little higher, and I am much more likely to continue the positive ripple, which hopefully causes more positive ripples, and so on and so forth.

So I ask you - what kind of ripple do you want to leave in your wake?



As always, comments and dialogue is welcome.

Karla

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