“One day you will wake up and know yourself more than you ever have. You will see all the magic that everyone else has been seeing in you all along.”
~K from the Hill Country
I have not written in so long, even though I think about sharing and writing about my journey into sobriety quite often. As it is for many of you, life gets busy and sometimes, if you are like me, your words don’t flow as easy even though they are there, bursting at the seams.
I am 6 months sober as of yesterday! Yay me! Only I can’t find the joy or excitement for this HUGE milestone. Even more exciting is that I have pushed myself to make new connections IRL! Finding women in sobriety that I can learn from and seek help. I have not asked for help or made the effort I should to foster these friendships yet. This is very common problem of mine, not making the effort, and if I dare say anxious about making friends, and sharing about myself in general is a major problem for me.
Why am I so afraid? I don’t know and it is making me extremely sad and pissed off! I am sure it is rooted in shame, anxiety and fears of not being good enough.
So where do I go from here and all these realizations I have in sobriety? I need to get VERY uncomfortable and put myself out there. I need to tell someone how I am feeling. I need to share my fears and I need to find professional help for my anxiety and lack of confidence.
These all sound like simple things every adult should know and understand right? And intellectually I do understand I need to break through these concerns in order to progress and stay sober. Doing them is another story. So what is the plan you ask?
The plan is simple, share in the meetings I attend. Just say it out loud. Reach out – put the words out there in my virtual and real life connection points. Be vulnerable, even when I can’t get the words out just say anything to begin taking the fear out of sharing. Keep connections, put it in my calendar to reach out to one person everyday to share one hard thing I am dealing with or have dealt with. Share the wins, it is ok to be proud of myself and celebrate my victories, big or small.
Such a simple plan, nothing fancy, the power is in executing the plan. Doing the hard things like saying my fears out loud or sharing something about myself that may not be perfect or messy, sends me into a swirl of panic, that need to break through. Admit I need help and I can’t do this by myself.
6 months of continuous sobriety is an amazing accomplishment and I very proud of myself. I am stronger, clearer and more compassionate. I can tell you feeling everything is not always fun and it can hurt like hell but I am not running away or numbing everything out. I am sober and working to find the light inside of me that is just bursting to get out.
It has been too long, yet just long enough for me to begin to emerge from the dark life I was living and begin sharing the real me with everyone.
It has been quite a year! Too many days stuck inside and a life without our normal everyday movements. So much hatred and sadness, so many people hurting, struggling and suffering. It is a lot to take in everyday, often with no escape, and no place to go, like so many of us stuck at home with everyday pressures feeling more like a pressure cooker. On top of all the crazy outside I am dealing with a marriage that is failing, my world feels extremely small, smothering and so overwhelming and vast with loneliness all at the same time.
If I could summarize my days for the vast majority of the past year has felt stuck on repeat. Things go smoothly for a while then they explode in front of me, like bombs going off in every direction and no place to run or hide. My husband and I argue all the time, in front of our kids, which I hate but even if I try to hide or end the argument he persists and it escalates until one of us leaves the house or finally just stops answering. The depth of the cracks in our marriage are deep, I am not sure they can be mended and I don’t believe my husband has the maturity, emotional or other wise, to make counseling work. I also know I have work of my own to do to be more caring and show empathy and understanding.
Although, it may appear this summary of the state of our relationship is cold or unfeeling it is not. There is no need to say more here about that topic. I will have to make decisions in the new year that may be difficult but also owe it to myself, my husband and my kids to work on myself and my sobriety before I go making huge changes that have consequences on others I care about deeply.
Looking back on 2020 the “major” events that happened, many have to do with my boys and the outside world. To start, I am proud of my kids they have done a very good job, during this pandemic, trying to manage their studies, grades and sports all while being quite isolated from their friends and normal life. I had an awesome review at work and proud of my accomplishments, I also applied for a new role which I will be in throws of interviewing for as we return in the new year. My younger son made a great lacrosse team and my older son was on fire for basketball over the summer and made his high school freshmen team as well. My dad made it through two surgeries and is healthy! My father-in-law also made it through a minor surgery and still doing well in light of the onset of some memory issues. Both my children got awesome grades even during a pandemic. I feel fortunate that our boys could go back to school with masks and have some normal days and be around other kids and learn in a classroom setting. My husband has been interviewing and will hopefully find a job in 2021.
I feel disproportionately lucky about the state we live in and the fact our boat club stayed open this summer. We have been lucky in the sense that we are not locked down like others are but at the same time it is scary as you watch the numbers rise and the people around really not caring about others when they refuse to wear a mask. My family and I were so lucky that we could go out on the boat, be on the lake and away from it all for hours. It was a wonderful escape for the kids and our family. Although not free of the fighting still a good escape for all of us from the boredom of the everyday of COVID life.
As I think back on 2020, I have learned many lessons, a few I would like to share include 1) I have matured a great deal over the past two years alone and I am proud of myself. I react differently in so many situations, I have the clarity to not tell myself stories, I am not drunk or hungover all the time and I don’t wake up not know what the hell I might have said or done the night before 3) I have grown in my sobriety, realizing that my journey may not always be a straight line and when my sobriety was meant to stick and I was ready for it to stick it would and has 4) I know everything is not my fault and recognize I need therapy and that I has many things I need to work through to support my personal and emotional growth, not to mention my sobriety 5) I am leaving space and time to let my emotions and understanding of situations unfold, not running from one fire to the next, that usually set myself to divert from the real things I need to sit with and give time to 6) I don’t need to be codependent and others can figure it out for themselves (this one is a work in progress) 7) Other peoples’ reactions and choices really don’t have much to do with me and I can just them go 8) I am a strong woman who is smart and learning more about myself everyday 9) Being sober is not just a label for me it is the pursuit of my best life 10) It is real life to feel all your feelings and have real authentic relationships 11) Sometimes things fall apart so you can rise again from the rubble even stronger.
To move forward we often have to move through the unknown or dark places. I feel like I have discovered quite a few things about myself this year and I know there is much I want to leave behind. Though somehow I struggle to put my thoughts together in a cohesive manner about what to leave behind in 2020. Not because I don’t have baggage or instances that I want to leave there – maybe I just have too much that I don’t want to take forward and that is the scarier part of what to leave behind, without leaving everything. I am going to take a crack at the major things I can think I want to leave here in this year and not take with me in 2021 or any year moving forward for that matter.
I will leave my guilt and shame over things I did or did not do while drinking over the years. I also want to leave my anger and resentments towards those people who have made choices to harm or send ill will toward my family. I want to move through co-dependency and leave my resentments behind against my husband. No longer will I give so much weight to what others think. Leaving all self-doubt and guilt behind about taking time to sit with myself and discover more about myself in order to grow. I am leaving the need to disappear for the benefit of others and giving others so much power over me and my life.
There are things I also need to start doing in 2021 like looking at my own shit, getting help from a therapist to understand why I am the way I am and why I choose to drink so much. I want to explore more about myself, learn how to write, do more outside, not be held down by others and to know how and what to fight for in order to be the best me. I need to start recognize when I am behaving badly, even when it is for a good purpose or point and change my behavior. I need to believe more in myself and find my strength without making others feel stupid. I need to reach out and put myself out there to make friends and more connections regardless of what I believe others think. I will stop being everyone’s keeper and start encouraging and empowering my family to do things for themselves so I don’t get resentful.
Minutes, hours, days, months and years continue to click by we can make use of them, embrace them as they come or sit on the sideline and curse them out but they will keep coming – the choose is mine what I do with my time, my days, and my life. Starting today I choose me and all the mess, brilliance and wonder that comes with my life. I get to take back the wheel, steer my direction but still let things unfold before me. My wish for myself and my life as I move into 2021 is to love myself more, be true to myself and be open to path that begins to show itself in this new year.
I love you and always will. You are not a lost soul, you are bright burning star that brings light to many. Keep searching for your spark, it belongs to you and you alone!
…always wondering if it is me. Am I the cause, the catalyst or creator of the silence and sadness that creeps in and settles in like a thick dense fog all around me. It is still a mystery to me whether or not this is all my fault or if I am the creator of all of the discontent. It is the question I ask so often, I am not even sure, I ever sit with it long enough to answer it, before it comes right back again.
Now I am sitting, just sitting with all the silent, sadness that has evolved into my daily life. I always wonder if I have built walls that don’t allow others in? Is that why I am sad and lonely? I often analyze what I could do differently in the relationship that is causing me to feel this way. But when I do play it all the way through, I often come to an understanding that I am sad and lonely because I don’t feel safe or heard. I am not unsafe in a physical sense, it is more about not being able to share how I really feel or what is hard for me. The reactions I get are often dismissive, or patronizing.
When you are with a person who does not know how to be emotionally there for you or for themselves, it is like living every day with tape over your mouth. You want to scream or cry, or literally just have a conversation about feelings but you can’t. I am sitting with all of this so I can really understand if I am the cause of this disconnect and silence, because I can’t open up or is it that we are both too emotional stunted to dive into the realm of emotions. So, I am silent, I say nothing until I do, which typically comes out as rage. I have so much pent up inside, that over time it just has to come out. We can call it a learned or maladaptive behavior, being childish, call it whatever you like but all it has to come out. When it does it is in a very confrontational manner that is laced in defensiveness, because by the time I say it out loud it is so pressurized there is not other way to express it. I do try to talk about things before this point of explosion but the dysfunctional behaviors is so engrained at this point it always leads to the same outcome, screaming.
There is so much behind that last paragraph and this continued disfunction, that I am not ready to share or think is fair to share here, but the truth is there is a pattern of silence, outburst and then silence again. I know not all of this is because of me, that is the old thinking I had for so long when I was much more immature and all throughout my addiction to alcohol. Everything was my fault, always. But through maturity, sobriety and growth I know that is not true, it is not all my fault and I am not responsible for fixing everything and everyone. I do know I need to do the work to move forward from this place and space of sadness.
Knowing when things have ran their course or when a relationship is over is not a quick, gut reaction decision for me, I believe it takes understanding, time and contemplation, especially when it comes to matters of the heart.
Although I say these things, I don’t know how to get there, wherever there is. I know I am sad, very sad a lot of time, but it tends to stem from the inability to feel safe enough to talk about how I feel or what I am going through. The sadness also stems from the fact I am lonely and really need to find connection with someone who I can share love with and others who understand my concerns and can show compassion.
I think a lot about whether a change will make it better or will I just end up more alone and sad. I believe there is work that has to be done here to help enable a path forward, whether that is on my own or together with my partner, but if the path is to stay together, so much change and growth will be required, because I know what is in place today is not healthy for us or me.
So here I sit, with my silence and sadness, hoping the answers will reveal themselves to me, because I know the way things are going, can not be the way it is supposed to be…forever.
My emotions have always been all over the place, often too big and sometimes way too small. I am often surprised how quickly they shift, as they go from really high to really low, in what at times, can feel like seconds and other times from day to day, without warning or cause. I have been trying to pay more attention to my emotions in sobriety and how they have remained the same and/or shifted from when I was drinking, and may I add heavily.
At first I had to identify that what I was feeling were in fact emotions. I had stuffed everything down for so long that the only emotions that ever surfaced were rage and hatred. When and if these emotions came out they were alcohol fueled and over exaggerated so anything that was truly underneath (the true emotions) had no space or place to reveal themselves.
I liken these past displays of alcohol fueled emotions as high tide, turbulent, unrelenting and with a strong undertow that would pull me and everyone else around me deep under the water, throwing them around, swirling in my rage with no way to escape for air. Have you ever been in the ocean during high tide, when the sets of waves just keep coming? You quickly gasp for a breathe of air, haaa!, then dive deep under water again only to get tossed around like crazy as the wave rolls over you. Then you rise up, gasp for air again, only to be smacked in the face by the next large wave in the set. The salt water in your nose and mouth and you are yet again tossed about only to rise again, hacking and coughing, gasping for air yet again, before the next huge wave comes bounding down on you all over again.
Why not get out of the water you ask? Well, in this space of relentless waves that pull you under and drag you back out again and again, it is hard, very hard to make your way out of the water and get back to shore. You have to drag yourself out, planting your feet with each step to pull yourself forward and ensure you don’t get pummeled by the next set of waves in the tide’s fury. When you finally reach the shore you are exhausted and sometimes to be honest, terrified because the fury of the sea is much bigger than you and you realize how small and weak you really are compared to this ever changing vastness of water. Remind you of anything?
I compare my raging alcoholic self to high tide, as I can only imagine what it has been like for my family, through the years, as my drinking increased and my episodes of high tide raging, over dramatic pity parties would ensue. I would always rage and wallow in how no one cared about me or how I did everything and no one helped. You name it I raged about it. My boys and husband must have felt dragged under with no way to rise and take a breath from my yelling and screaming. I can only imagine how scary that must have been for my kids.
There were and definitely are times now of low tides of my emotions, these are mixtures of feeling alone, lost, or sad but also grateful, that I am now more calm and can handle these emotions more gracefully. When I was drinking however, these low tides were the swirling, gradual stewing of emotions that I did not know how to deal with. These emotions would come in and out, never staying long enough for me to examine them. They were just out of grasp, as they rolled in and out, just like low tide on the shore. I could wade in the water of my emotions but would never go too deep, as the water was too calm and I never really knew what was underneath. I would try to wade in these low tides of shallow water of my emotions, but I could not because it hurt too much. Shame, guilt, sadness and fear rolled in and out just like the tide, slow and steady never rising too much but just enough to make me wallow and feel unsafe, floating in the vastness of some very dark water, all around me like at the beach. As we wade out into the sea during low tide, small little waves and unclear water lapping all around me. The low tide is enjoyable for awhile until the fear settles back over me, that I need to stop drinking and change, stop this insanity, all of this is just too scary for me so I drudge myself back to the shore for my perceived place of safety – drunkenness would prevail to “save me”.
Now, in my days of sobriety I am trying to identity my emotions more and understand why I still dive into the high tide of a raging sea inside of me. But now I find the surface more quickly and take breathes between each wave that thrashes over me. Yes, high tide still comes my way emotionally, but I am learning how to dive deep and rise again, bursting upward to breach the deep emotions that often try to drowned me. Instead of allowing the raging and screaming tides to devour me I stop and examine what is happening for me. I am working hard to look at myself and stop blaming everybody else and drag them deep underwater with me.
The low tides are still there as well, and although now days, I venture further into the water to find out more about my emotions, I still enjoy the peaceful lapping small waves on the shore of my life, keeping me more grounded than I ever thought I would be. Now, I can wade into my emotions, when I want to and walk out for quite a while with my emotions only stay about knee deep. The further I wade and walk out gives me confidence that I can just be with my emotions, all of them versus just the previous few, knowing I can return to shore whenever I need to and never drag anyone else under with me.
I will forever love and fear the sea, just like I do my myself and my family.