Shame

shameLast weekend, my kid and I met up with his friend from school and his mom. We went to the park and then hung out talking while drinking gin and tonics. Until the part where I blacked out. Nice.

And that was after the last time when I met up with a friend from a previous life and we did twenty years’ worth of catching up over vodka martinis, after which I smashed my face into the pavement because I was so drunk. And then I had to go to work the next day with a bruised and bleeding face. Classy.

And that was after I met some friends at the bar for a few drinks and some dinner and didn’t have any idea how I’d gotten home. Shameful.

You might be thinking, well, all young kids have trouble over drinking sometimes. I’m almost 50. I’m married. I’m not a kid; I have a kid. I am ashamed.

I am not sure if this clinically makes me an alcoholic, but it certainly makes me an alcohol abuser or at the very least someone who is unable to hold her liquor. My episodes are not often – I can go weeks even months without drinking, and, as my friend says, I’m not “white knuckling it” through life. I’m not angry or covering up issues – it really only happens when I’m having fun. And most people don’t even know or realize how drunk I am. But I am and then the next day…I am filled with shame.

My husband has been understanding and supportive; he is concerned, of course, but knows that alcohol has been the lubricant for my fun gland for years now – the story of how we met has a byline by Alcohol. He knows that I’m a social creature and like to go out and love having deep and meaningful conversations with both friends and strangers. But it has a negative impact on him, his routine and our life together. My son has noticed. It’s not cute anymore…it’s shameful.

But how about that word? Shame – it makes you think of hiding, right? Of dark closets and secrets. And that is very tempting. I want to put these stories out of sight and away from the light and never talk or think about them again. But if I do that, I fear that they’ll be like mushrooms, propagating in the dark and fetid dankness of my soul and that they’ll only lead to more stories I have to hide.

So I’m taking ownership of my shame. First, I’m turning it into embarrassment – shame’s younger, more naïve cousin. I’m not stranger to embarrassment so that’s easier to handle. It means telling people about it; it means hearing the story out loud and maybe even hearing myself try to justify or make excuses for my behavior. But it’s out there. And then, I can turn embarrassment into support – friend, you’ve heard my embarrassing story, so now, when I say I can’t have a drink with you, or just a wee sip of wine, you’ll understand and won’t expect me to be my usual party self. Instead of asking me to get drinks, you’ll suggest we go to a movie or for a walk. And I will be grateful and no longer ashamed.

– Libby Bingham


About Libby
Libby is master on the mic, whether it’s giving a formal presentation, an impromptu toast or large group karaoke. Her solid retirement plan* is her son’s inevitable rockstar millions and you can reach her here.

*Why, yes! Libby IS available to help you with your long-term financial planning!

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