I’ve been wondering this for a long time, really, but it’s hit home over the past month-plus of my sobriety. What if the people you’ve hurt and/or offended either by the act of your drinking or the result of your drinking CAN’T or WON’T forgive and forget?
My brother is a case of having forgotten (I guess) but not forgiven. And as with some of my friends who have said (or implied) that they’re over what I did while shitfaced, the lack of forgiveness is shown by a passive aggressive refusal to engage; it’s maddening (and saddening). History: I went batshit KUH-RAZY on his girlfriend over New Year’s this year. I mean, I blacked the fuck out and went OFF. Calling her names, yelling at her to get back in the house, saying things like she and my brother don’t belong together, he never does this or that, he’s ruined his life being with her, he doesn’t care about me. I wound down, according to him, several hours later with his help, and at one point collapsed on the floor of their living room and passed out. The next morning was hell on earth, and his girlfriend didn’t even talk to me before I left. (It’s well known in my family, however, that most of what I said about her is true, to be fair. However, no one deserves what I gave her.) Anyway, six months later, and we’re still tiptoeing around each other when we talk, me and my brother, that is. He does have a passive aggressive streak — and is influenced heavily by his domineering girlfriend — so I wouldn’t be surprised if he hasn’t forgiven me. I mentioned I was on my 30th day of sobriety in a recent email, and in his reply, he didn’t comment AT ALL on this. It was a long email, and he made a point of addressing everything in it except that. All I have to say at the moment is that I’m hurt and confused and sort of pissed: after that LONG talk on New Year’s Day (while I was about as hung over as I’ve ever fucking been, EVER) about how I needed to get sober for my health and my family’s sake, he doesn’t so much as bat a digital eye when I tell him I finally have?
I try to put myself in his shoes, though, before allowing myself to start judging what may or may not be an intentional snub on his part. Like, if I was there, being screamed at by my belligerent self, being called all sorts of names by someone who LOOKED PERFECTLY FINE — even though I’m blacked out, I look and act like I’m totally conscious; I’ve done so many things while blacked out that seem the actions of a fully aware, sober person, it’s incredible. If that was ME on the receiving end, I think it’d be REAL hard to find the will to forget, let alone forgive. I was a monster that night, and I know it. I still haven’t forgiven myself, so maybe I should cut my bro some slack.
On that note, I fly to the [beautiful island where I now live] tomorrow for a few weeks, so must get to sleep! My first vacation sober. Wow, it really is like getting a new set of wings — firsts every single day.
(Hmm. Maybe these types of conflicting feelings and interpersonal dilemmas that you face newly sober are, actually, best dealt with in AA? Maybe there is some rhyme and/or reason to the 12-step program? Eh…still not convinced!)