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.

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25 thoughts on “Life Lessons

  1. Being raw and vulnerable is one of the hardest lessons to learn in sobriety. At least it was for me. To take a woman who worked so hard her whole life to build a fortress around her heart and lay her open and exposed took a herculean effort – one with which I’m still not finished. I keep working at it though – because it’s that important.

    I also don’t agree with my alcoholism being a disability. I don’t need any special help or treatment. I just need to not drink. It’s that simple.

    Sherry

  2. I think you should look into recovery 2.0 by tommy Rosen. He has a lot to say about overcoming addiction and living and amazing life through recovery. I believe I am doing that now. Recovery has opened a door to making the choices in my life that I want to make, not that I feel I should make.
    Don’t settle for a life without elation!

  3. Thanks for this post. I am a recovering addict and I have to disagree with the whole addiction being a disability thing too. Its been nothing short of a catapult for me. I am living life far beyond my wildest dreams and I do not let the fact that I am an addict stop me. Getting to know myself and to let others know me has been a challenge but I am learning to accept it because it is helping me grow and its given me so much freedom.

  4. I think writing your feelings on your blog is a way to get them out of your head and into the ether so to speak so they don’t build up or manifest themselves negatively in other areas of your life. For me, I need to attend AA meetings where I have to look others in the face and share those ruminations that run deep, so I expose myself to others. Loner tendencies are my norm so it takes a tremendous amount of effort on my part to do this. Surprisingly, I always feel better after I do.

    • That is a nice way to think about blogging…a good reframe for me right now. Thanks for sharing your experiences with AA. I guess I haven’t given it a chance, but it didn’t feel like a good fit to me when I tried it. Maybe I need to try again with a new perspective or find another recovery group that is a good fit. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. I think that drinking itself is the disability and one that, while I was drinking, would require me (and others) to make allowances for, adapt to. No drinking = no disability= freedom. Bea x

  6. Very powerful! I’ve been thinking a lot about that too- while I’ve gained so much from blogging, it is also keeping me a bit to myself. It’s good to get out there and make connections and not feel shame about being sober. Thanks for posting this today ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. great post with lots to think about for me, thank you! and yes completely understand about painful epiphanies – as you may have seen on my blog, reading Tommy Rosen’s book was one such for me! and once you ‘get’ something, like realising you need to stop drinking, you can’t un-get it….

    and I love your phrase ‘finding my own elation in the world’. thank you for that inspiration! xx

  8. “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.”

    thank you for this post and for putting into words an aspect of my experience. love your blog, helps me so much.

  9. Hi Jen.
    Super interesting post here! I like what you say about stepping into the world more. I have been trying to do that, too, though it can be hard. As for the blog being a hideout, I think it can be–and in my early days of not drinking I guess I needed that–but it can also be a safe haven from the world when I need it. I called it the ‘sober hearth’ the other day, and it was only after I wrote it that realized how much the blog world can work that way for me. I also love what you say about disability here. I know that way of taking seems to help some people, maybe in keeping them vigilant, but like you, I reject it. But I am trying to figure out out how to be in the world, and it’s lovely to have some company in that. Good to hear how you’re doing these days. Take care. xo

    • Hi TS, thanks for your thoughtful comment. I love the term ‘sober hearth’ and I agree…it is a place I can come to and always feel accepted and warm and good. I personally think I hide a bit behind it when I know deep inside that I need more face to face time with like-minded people. I think it is different for everyone, though! I wish we all lived within ‘coffee’ distance of each other. I also agree that it is lovely to have company in figuring all of this out, and I believe that I have found that in my blogging friends! xo

  10. ‘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 ….. 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.’ Jen I could have written that sentence myself on Wednesday which is when I experienced that epiphany!! Thank you for vocalising what I can’t even say myself yet xx

  11. Great post. Great replies. The thing about recovery is that it’s an art, not a science. We each have our own wounds to heal. The great thing about blogging is that (hopefully) people will be supportive. But it all comes down to the individual and what works for them. Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right. What you are doing: Writing, vulnerability, speaking up, honesty … all these things will allow you to grow into a newer stronger you. Don’t feel you need to be silent. It’s your blog. It’s your recovery. It’s your life. Do whatever it takes to grow.

    I, for one, do not see my past drinking as a disability to manage. I see it as a gift that opened my eyes to my true nature. I am a better person for having overcome active alcoholism. I’m a kinder person for having embarked on spiritual principles as a way of living.

    Keep up the good work. xox lisa

  12. great post.
    one of my sweetest friends decided, after about a year of sobriety, that she was so lonely that she needed to get to some sort of recovery group. She chose AA, but there are others.
    I isolated all during my drinking, and part of my recovery HAD to be coming out of that shell, that hole I was in. I went to AA and disliked it but kept going back. And one day went to lukch after a meeting with some women. And another day was invited to a movie…..litle by little I ventured out. I also started accepting invitations from my friends again, a I was not afraid to drive anymore!
    I guess what I am saying is that to have a life you must build it, and it’s not easy when yu are used to being the lone wolf. But oh, i’s so much better to be out there. I protected myself right into a hole, beth before and during my early sobriety. No more. I want the life that is promised me after alcohol, and am getting it.
    It started with a realization like this Jen….keep exploring!

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