Here’s the story:
1. I drank a lot on the Fourth of July.
2. I rarely drink excessively.
3. Two or more cocktails are known to make me pretty hyper-goofy-crazy-wild-funny (Or so I believe. Maybe others see me as stupid-obnoxious-loud-ridiculous-annoying).
4. I had a blast.
5. I’m a terrible mother.
I’ve had Shame Gremlins whispering in my ear, all day long…”You are a bad mother. What kind of mom gets intoxicated with her kids around? Good mothers remain in control; aware and alert; sober. Shame on you, Jackie. You fucked up. What are some of those party-goers thinking about you now? What are they saying? Do you have any idea how harshly you are being judged right now?”
All day, I unconvincingly force-fed my mind the self-compassionate remarks I know I am supposed to lovingly tell myself (except mine came out monotone and not loving at all). “You are not a bad mom. You are entitled to let loose once in a while. You didn’t commit a sin. This one incident of ‘bad judgment’ doesn’t make you an irresponsible mother. How often do you do this? NEVER. Why do you care what others might say or think? Your kids aren’t even aware that you were not sober. You weren’t sloppy-falling-over-slurring drunk. You were just happier-crazier-wilder-goofier-funnier than usual. Stop beating yourself up. You didn’t commit a crime. You didn’t hurt anyone or endanger your children. You have nothing to be ashamed of. You are not a sinner. You are a good person. It’s okay.”
Everything I read; everything I preach; all of my life’s mottos and mantras…I know I should put them into practice at this very minute. These are the times that I’m supposed to remember to:
Forgive yourself and forgive the past as Iyanla Vanzant suggests.
Nurture yourself with self-compassion and self-love as Brené Brown recommends.
Don’t take things personally; what people say or think about you, has nothing to do with you. It’s their own issues that cause them to pass judgment on you as don Miguel Ruiz writes.
What others think of me is none of my business as Deepak Chopra says.
Embrace your imperfections and release the shame as Brené Brown preaches.
Let it go as Elsa sings.
As is in my nature, I’ve tried to find the life-lesson in all this. What am I supposed to learn and come away with from this? Why is this eating at me and affecting me so much?
Becoming a mother came with a boatload of self-imposed expectations. One of those is “A good mother does not get drunk…But especially not while her children are around. Ever.”
That rule comes from the values and beliefs I was exposed to as a child. I never saw my parents drunk. Actually, I never saw any of my family members drunk. Everybody drank wine or beer, but it was only at dinnertime and for the sole purpose of accompanying the food. No one ever drank with the intention of having a good time, letting loose, and getting intoxicated.
Alcohol was not necessarily viewed as a bad thing. In fact, I was served alcohol occasionally as a kid. I was allowed to have a little wine mixed with seltzer water if I wanted. On New Year’s Eve, I was given a glass of champagne to toast with. Sometimes, I had sips of vermouth and seltzer at dinner parties. However, I was taught that alcohol was to be used responsibly and never to be abused. Being drunk was low-class, bad, ugly, and unrespectable – especially in a parent. No one ever said those things to me…I just sensed them. They were unspoken rules and beliefs.
But after an entire day of beating myself up, I started wondering though…
What if they were wrong? What if what I did yesterday was not low-class, bad, ugly, and unrespectable? What if maybe, just maybe, my mom or dad or other family members were once drunk in front of me and I didn’t even know it – just like my kids didn’t know it about me yesterday? What if all I did was have a whole lot of fun? What if I accept that the opinions of the party-goers really don’t matter? What if I let go of who others think I’m supposed to be and just embrace my flawed-self? What if I start believing that what I think about myself is what matters most? What if I forgive myself? What if I give myself permission to be human?
When I did the e-course for The Gifts of Imperfection by Brené Brown, she said “When perfectionism is driving us, shame is riding shotgun and fear is that annoying backseat driver.” I can clearly see that is what I’m dealing with today. I broke one of my own cardinal rules on what it means to be a perfect parent and the shame and fear I am feeling are making their presence known in this little head of mine.
But the thing is, we all know there is no such thing as a perfect parent. We are all human. We are all inherently flawed. Our desire for perfection is a direct result of shame and the fear of not being good enough. In Daring Greatly, Brené writes: “My underlying fear of not being the perfect parent is driving my need to confirm that, at the very least, I’m better than you.” We need to remember this when we are faced with judgment by others. It’s not about you, it’s about them.
Regarding shame, Brené says “When we deny the story, it defines us. When we own the story, we can write a brave new ending.”
This is me…owning it and writing a brave new ending to my story:
I got drunk on the Fourth of July and I had a blast and this does not make me a bad mother.