I am desperate. I am caught. I am broken. I am fucked. The lies I tell to those closest to me hurt the most. Shame sets in. Shame, anger, disgust, and heartbreak.
It was just a drink!
Until I am truly ready to get help, no one can say or do anything to fix me.
I wore a mask to deal with the pressure to stay clean. Always the “good girl”, I didn’t want anyone to know that I was secretly hiding an extreme desire to drink again. I was terrified of living a sober life. Of finding my true, raw, and exposed self. The voice never goes away. The voice of darkness that tells me to choose Chardonnay over a family that loves me. That fucker will taunt me till I die! This disease doesn’t go away with a handful of pills or surgery, the only medicine I can take is found in mind and spirit.
Who am I?
I’ll tell you who I am. I am go-with-the-flow Kristen. I’m the girl who roommates loved, boyfriends wanted back, teachers appreciated, and parents smiled upon. Only because I want to please others, make THEM happy. Because I’m the perennial goodwill ambassador who never, God forbid, wants to ruffle feathers. I always make nice, always smile, always comply, always make peace. I told myself this was the greatest strength of my character. But it didn’t make me strong. It just made me lost. Good and God-damned lost! Who am I? Let me have a drink to stop self-inspection and to seduce my self-sabotaging thoughts of never measuring up.
I truly, whole-heartedly thought I could have just 1. When I swiftly graduated to #2, it became just- MY drink having another drink. And then, the melting away into oblivion…and then, the obsession of the mind- when, where, and at what time tomorrow will I be able to secretly pull off my next drink?
I felt threatened and angry that I couldn’t drink normally. Frustrated that I couldn’t have just one. The mental torture is hell. I was cornered once again. I was brought face to face with the devil, astonished and baffled that I was actually thinking of following him. Thinking of leaving my family behind. I was going to take the plunge into the darkness of deceit. The hiding and lying would drown me. But the deepest devastation hit when I saw the sadness and withdrawal in my husband’s and sister’s eyes.
Hiding, lying, and accomplishing NOTHING but a depressing hangover. What a fucking waste of time! I am defeated! I have proven myself wrong again- I just can’t have 1 drink. I can’t drink like normal people- never could, never will! It’s so utterly heart-wrenching to know I have to leave this life behind….To admit this chapter of my story has come to an end.
Alcoholism exists behind walls of denial. Growing like cancer, sucking out life, and ending in the same deadly spiral. If I am true to my recovery , I will collide with my feelings I have been running from all my life. “We are victims of a mental obsession so subtly powerful that no amount of human willpower could break it”.
“I had met my match. I had been overwhelmed and defeated. Alcohol became my master once again”. My mind wandered, convincing me to change my path. Engulfed in my own desires and self-pity.
I forgot what I was like before I started using. Being that I was 13, I was just beginning to discover who I was. Drinking put a halt to my emotional growth. From that young age , I forgot how to express myself and forgot how to feel! I started to have an inability to deal with “life on life’s terms”. I dreamed of finding a magic pill that would solve my ultimate problem- myself! Trapped in “what if”, “if only”, “just one more time”, I couldn’t get out of the prison that was my own mind. As I have just experienced again, drinking ALWAYS brings me to my knees! It ALWAYS ends in painful tears and broken hearts.
I am happy to realize my mind can now be open again. I can no longer live with tunnel vision and dysfunctional impulsivity, with my only thoughts (the need to numb and get a good buzz) firing up the dopamine in my brain. I want to be free again from planning and obsessing over when I can take that next drink that I always convinced myself I so well deserved. HA! Isn’t there always an excuse to drink or get high? “I hate my boss! My Ex Husband is driving me crazy! My kids are so needy! I need a better job! Why can’t I be more like Betty! I’m not good enough! My chocolate chip cookies burned! My nail polish chipped! My roots are showing! Traffic is unfuckingbelievable!” These excuses and complaints are not the issue. The need to escape goes much deeper than this.
When I get into panic mode and want to reach for a drink or swallow a pill, I can retreat back into the deep recesses of my mind to the image of my 4 year old self. When I look inward, I try to imagine myself talking to the child in me (I know, I know what you’re thinking- what a wackadoodle- but I promise, I’m not a complete nut job!) What advice would I give to the 5-year-old Kristen, or the 13-year-old Kristen, who might have been scared and lonely? Listen to what she has to say and how she feels. Intense emotions always follow. Heart-aching, gut-wrenching sobs. Try it! Dig deep into your childhood where possibly all of this fear, self-doubt, and anger originated.
Life can get hard sometimes, really fucking hard! The world can be so unkind! But I need to swallow my pride and just show up, be seen, be fierce, live brave! If I never even enter the playing fields, I have no chance to win! No chance to discover how a life fully-lived can be.
Many of us have been brutal on ourselves. Perfection is yet another quality of mine that can hook its claws into me and drag me face down. Oh- and also the need to please. I have always been hustling for worthiness! I still am! But we all need to learn to be gentle with ourselves. Again, I can think of myself as the 4-year-old who had been emotionally wounded. I thought of her as my own child. How would I treat her if she was in such pain or turmoil? I imagine how I would support her when she was taking very scary risks. I even imagine holding her when she was hurt or scared. What would I say to her then, and now? SHE is the way I can be gentle with myself! SHE is the beginning of my self-forgiveness! SHE can allow me to be more vulnerable!
Obviously, I am being extremely vulnerable, here, in my writing! But there’s a difference you see. I can express myself all day long behind closed doors, behind a computer screen. As a result, I don’t have to hear the backlash, take the criticism. I don’t need or want person-to-person contact or advice. I can still run away and hide, not return phone calls or respond to emails or texts! And the anxiety of being too exposed and letting my guard always simmers. I can easily allow myself to disconnect with the world. I’ve told myself the same story that I’ve grown comfortable with. “This is just my personality, there’s nothing I can do to change it”. If YOU can’t make the effort to try to break down MY walls, then it’s your fault (defiant middle finger waving in the air ). I HATE all those people that just don’t understand me, because it’s easier to hate than to look beneath.
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Thinking back to why I always want to take that drink… maybe I’m living too much in my past, hanging onto the careless uninhibited ways of my youth.
As probably most women (and men) in their 40’s do, we start to question the true meaning of love and marriage. What once was the stabbing, heart-racingness of courtship love, fades into a happy (on the good days) quiet hum. What once was the butterflies in my stomach passionate kisses, fades into robotic unemotional pecks. What once was the crazy, hysterical alcohol-induced dinners and concerts with friends- the chardonnay sipping trips to Mexico, California, and NYC fades into maturity, responsibility, addictions, and divorce.
On my journey to a beautiful life, I need to remind myself that I have the support and love and tools to handle the challenges ahead. I WILL find the path that inspires me!
As my husband has reiterated to me, “Continue to FIGHT ON and come back STRONGER…With the courage to take this step, you have changed the family path from one of LOVE mixed with uncertainty, tentativeness, anxiety, and worry to one of LOVE mixed with clarity, confidence, belief, and trust…No journey and its path is perfect…we will have many ups and downs…Just believe in your power to succeed and to lead this family as ONE”.
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When a tragedy happens in our lives: a death in the family, the burial of a loved one, the laying of his gravestone, the closing up of her deathbed….so too closes our lives. When you bury a child (I think of my brother, my sister-in-law, and their 3 month old deceased daughter) or when you just simply get up everyday and live life RAW, you murmur the question no one hears. Can there be a good God? A God who graces with good gifts when a crib lies empty through long nights. Where is God, really? How can He be good when babies die, marriages implode, addictions kill, and dreams are blown away like dust in the wind? Where is GRACE when cancer gnaws and loneliness aches? How do I fully live when life is full of hurt? Love hurts! How do I wake up to joy and grace and beauty and all that is the fullest life when I must stay numb to losses and crushed dreams and all that empties me out?
I love the word GRACE! It encompasses all that is pure, that is lovely. A lot of times in our lives I’m sure we have all said “If it were up to me, I’d write this story differently.” But maybe we don’t want to change the story, because we don’t know what the different ending holds. There’s a reason we’re not writing the story and God is. He knows how it all works, where it all leads, what it all means.
Finding this grace is our journey! Is everyone’s “journey to a beautiful life”. In the end, we will find a peace, a grace, a beauty, a happiness. Our lives do get ugly, get messy! We can live in a sense of “less then” and ingratitude, but we eventually learn that these attitudes just leave us feeling void. God has a secret purpose for us. Ultimately to return us to our full glory. To return us to our true names, our truest selves, to fill us with glory and grace.
I am trying to experience a little bit of gratitude everyday now. Those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how I experience the world.
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This is it! This is my day of reckoning! Quoting a friend of mine (Thanks Dee!), “Everyday I wake up to a choice. How do I want to live? Everyday I am going to battle! Every fucking day! But I just need to SHOW UP! If I live my life in TRUTH, nothing but the truth , it will set me FREE”.
It’s time to breathe deep and time to see real and time to laugh long! Wherever you are, BE ALL THERE! Be a hunter of beauty! Beauty is the voice endlessly calling and so we listen, and so we follow. Move slow and keep the eyes wide open. Try to embrace the NOW. Life is not an emergency. Life is brief, and it is fleeting, but it is not a race to the finish line. Life is unscripted! Live mindfully, attentively, and thankfully. Life should be lived in the hands of the unhurried and the reverential. Live life with grace!
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In my decision to save my life. I must admit complete defeat!
Addiction strangles. It is haunting, crippling, mortifying! I will not be prisoner in this dark world. Till my last heaving breath, I will continue to wrestle this BEAST to the floor. I will fight to the death for reprieve!
I will continue to surrender, persevere, and be set free once again!