Life Lessons

This week has been hard. I’ve been holding onto my sobriety with a tight grip, knowing that drinking won’t do anything good, but desiring the fade out and numbing of my feelings that drinking would provide. Epiphanies, small and large, have been coming one after another, along with a lot of self doubt and uncertainty that I am on the right path.

Epiphanies are cool yet sometimes painful. I have been seeing more clearly the ways in which I have, and still am, living in fear a lot of the time. It is a hard thing to look at honestly because it hurts to see those flaws in myself- to allow myself to be truly vulnerable, even to myself.

I know that isolation is the bain of many alcoholics, but I never saw myself as isolating per se. Instead I told myself that I was a loner. I enjoyed my own company more than that of others. Instead of looking for my people I decided that there were no people like me in the world. I longed to write and needed the space and isolation to do so. Artists have to suffer! They have to weep and self destruct! There are some truths to these words, in these thoughts, but they are not the whole truth. They are not MY truth. I have been living my life shielded by my loner status to avoid the possibility of being rejected by others. To avoid having to show my true self to others. To avoid being vulnerable. And the truth hurts.

That’s the thing about quitting drinking. You no longer have a shield of alcohol to rely on when you are around people or things that scare you. You have to look people in the eye and see them and let them see you. This is a wonderful thing because it allows relationships to develop and form and grow. But it is also hard, especially when you have spent your entire life hiding from others. When you grew up hiding because your family hides and that is simply what people do.

I’ve begun to think that this blog is another way of hiding, which is not to say that it hasn’t been absolutely crucial in getting me sober. I don’t have to talk to people face to face about my drinking, or lack thereof, if I stay home and write about it on the Internet.** When faced with the shortness of life, I have realized that I don’t want to live this way anymore. Instead, I want to ravage life. I want to live it to the absolute fullest. I don’t want to hide away to stay sober. I want to mingle with all the people and experience all of the things, though I think I have experienced about all the alcohol I can handle in one lifetime, so that’s still out.

I was reading an article the other day. I don’t remember where it was from, or who wrote it, and I apologize if it was someone reading this blog because I didn’t like what it had to say. The individual spoke of treating her alcohol addiction as a disability and learning how to work around it for the rest of her life. I have been living my life like my addiction is a disability, so I see where this idea comes from, but I hate the idea of disability in the first place. Why can’t we just be people, with differences. Why do we have to “work around” anything? Why can’t we accept each other as we are? I want to heal the reasons that I drank so much in the first place so that I can go anywhere and do anything without requiring the fake fix that alcohol provides. I want to find my own elation in the world. A way of being that simply does not require or want alcohol to be a part of it. I don’t want to sequester myself into a tiny corner of the world and hide there forever.

Whew. Felt good to get that out.

**Edit: I am not judging anyone for writing about sobriety online. It has been a totally cool, amazing thing for me. Any way you get or stay sober totally freaking rocks. Not that you need to hear this from me, but I wanted to clarify my statement a little.

Leaving Things Behind

better-things

I have started over a lot in my life, and I am finding that I have less energy for doing that now. I know that there are many things that I need to leave in my past and things that I need to work to heal, but thinking about my past makes me anxious. In the past few days thinking about the past has been overwhelming me so much that I have been staying firmly planted in the present as much as possible. I do know one thing- I am not the same person that I was a short time ago.

My old life is slipping away, and I am letting it go. That is scary for me, but it feels good, too. I still have so much to figure out and it takes time. Time and patience. My past is not going to magically be resolved, but I am hoping that answers will become clear to me after more time passes.

I have always been kind of a loner. I have always felt weird about being a loner, like it is somehow the ‘wrong’ way to be, but I am starting to accept that that is who I am. I needed to be drunk to be around a lot of people every weekend. Right now I prefer small groups, being with my husband and baby, or being alone. Going to a party sounds fun, but as a special occasion thing, not a regular thing. I am not lonely when I am alone… I like it. But the guilt and anxiety about liking it is still there. I feel that I should try harder to be with others. I fear that I am missing out.

I also sometimes wonder if I am not blindly traveling down a well-worn path from my childhood. My family always isolated themselves, mainly due to my Dad’s alcoholism, but also due to my Mom’s tendency to enable and spend time drinking, too. We started over a lot as a family when I was a kid… moving to new locations in new cities for a fresh start. We never actually said that we were moving for a fresh start… it was always about money or jobs or something else, but in actuality it was because things had gotten hairy in the place we were living and we needed to leave. I suspect that alcoholism played a huge part in that, but I was too young to understand or pay attention to what was really going on. I just went along with it and learned that you start over when the going gets rough, but maybe you call it something else. You also spend most of your time alone. That is normal.

I have been an alcoholic my entire adult life, too. It is much easier to admit now, but it still floors me. How did that happen? How did nobody notice? Do I really like being alone so much, or am I scared to show people who I really am? I don’t know.

There is a lot of conflicting information about letting go of the past. It is good to live ‘in the now’ but you have to find a way to integrate your past into the now. I don’t want to leave my old life completely in the past, but I am not sure how exactly to bring it into the future either.

I am figuring things out slowly. I am letting go of control little by little. I am realizing that life has plans for me, but sometimes I have to get out of my own way. I don’t have the answers to all of my questions.

I am 180 days sober today, and it feels good.