When I have a glass or a bottle of wine, I become the unfiltered version of myself: the rawness no one ever sees, the free spirit within me!  When drinking, I can also become every wicked thought and every forbidden desire turned real.  I would love to be sober…  To be that “dream that came true”!!!  To be that confident warrior with complete self-esteem!

Do I have the willingness to go to any lengths to stay sober? Do I have the honesty to accept myself as I am and let this be the “me” that I let others see?  Yes- of course, I would love to!  But I am someone who struggles with intense social anxiety and Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)! (More on this subject, in a future blog post).

Being truly honest with mysel isn’t easy.  It’s difficult to search out why I had this or that impulse and, more importantly, why I acted upon it.  Nothing makes me feel so vulnerable as to give up the crutch of my alibi (drinking to escape and feel good).  But I have a willingness to be honest, and real, and to remove my urge to make excuses for my drinking.

So many years were wasted on obeying compulsions I knew could destroy me.  But I don’t REGRET these decisions.  They have definitely made me stronger and made me more aware of my shortcomings and fears. Like the well-known quote by Ernest Hemingway, “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are stronger at the broken places.”   REGRET is living in the past and only leads to depression, shame, and then active uncontrollable addiction.

BUT….what if that addiction actually SAVES you?  Sometimes I believe (and I truly can prove) without the escapism of alcohol….my life would be Hell!

So here is the current predicament that I live in on a continual, daily basis…Do I live a sober life (with anxiety, fear, and isolation)?  Or, do I live a more comfortable life with alcohol (feeling more comfortable in my own skin but risking abuse and the disappointment of others)?  I know so many reading this would choose the former,  but this is the dichotomy I struggle with!  

Years of dependency on alcohol as a chemical mood-changer deprived me of the capability to interact emotionally with others.  In my late teens and twenties, I had a hard time interacting socially with others without the help of alcohol.  Experts say that the age you START drinking, is the age you STOP thinking- the age you STOP maturing and progressing emotionally.  This is so true.  I have moments when I revert back to my 10/12 year old self.  So immature and confused!  I agree, at some level, that I eventually lost my self respect and my self worth with the influence of alcohol.  It IS a depressant obviously!  With dependency on alcohol, I lacked any ability to trust and believe in myself.  BUT….I believed I was a better person when intoxicated- more approachable, more sociable, and more opinionated.  I have a HUGE filter when I’m sober. I’m extremely self-conscience, I never want to say the wrong thing, I want people to like me, and I am extremely timid and fearful of disapproval.  Alcohol disintegrated this heavy filter and allowed me to be more uninhibited! And it still does to this day!

Everyday I wake up with the hope of  becoming less afraid of living!  I tell myself I do not have to be so frightened at being Who I Am!  I do not have to drown in feelings of inferiority!

But, MY journey and MY story will be MY own- it will be different and unique from everyone else’s.  My journey will always try to lead me to that “Beautiful Life”! But I have to find that beauty on my own (with God’s help).

Each journey begins with a first step.  The feelings that arise with first steps (leaving home, starting a new job, making the commitment to get married, breaking a habit, discovering new solutions to old habits, etc) create doubt, fear, confusion, sadness- but sometimes complete relief and joy!  These are all intimidating and scary.  But first steps are also freeing and powerful! As is my confrontation with my own addiction.

“Who do I Dare To Be?  Only those who Dare truly live!”  I love and hate this statement equally! I love to take risks and be daring- it’s so courageous and thrilling, but (being someone who is socially anxious and overwhelmingly self-conscious) it can also be so debilitating!   So many of us need to escape life, but do it in a healthy way!   We escape through hiding and avoiding, but sometimes this leads to  numbing and abusing.  So I am asking this question…. What if that numbing gives us freedom to be ourselves?  Gives us a voice and confidence that otherwise would smother us?  I do not want to miss out on what life offers but in order for me to risk feeling and seeing it all- to be totally open and vulnerable, I need a buffer from this harsh and sometimes cruel world.

Fighting an obstacle, pushing against a closed door, only heightens my frustration.  Fighting against my disease was keeping me in the problem- it was allowing me to obsess on what I couldn’t have.  When we want something so badly, something we shouldn’t have- we obsess, dwell on it, and then it starts to control our life.

When you encounter addiction and then try to recover from it- you have been given the chance to live two lives.  The cruel addictive one is dark, selfish, and suffocating.  The second one is rich with possibilities and new beginnings.  I know many recovering addicts and alcoholics might disagree with this, but I believe I am currently between these two choices, between these two states of being.  I am trying to discover a life where I might be able to live between both.

Authenticity is the daily practice of letting go of who we think we’re supposed to be and embracing who we are.  It’s having the courage to be imperfect, to accepting that we are made of both strength and struggle, and  believing that we are enough!  The source of my happiness is within me, and I need to find that on my own, with the help of God.

I must discover my own truths, on my own time.  Although it can be frustrating for those who are closest to me- for those who think that I’m moving backwards, I still must discover THAT truth and THAT contentment for myself. I need to struggle, fail, and get frustrated.  That’s how I break through the tough times.  I will not give up until I find my TRUTH.  I will keep seeking enlightenment, keep experimenting (and hopefully in a non-dangerous way).

As an active alcoholic and addict, I know I abused every liberty given to me.  I abused the trust of my family, I deceived them and lied to them!  And that is what hurts me most!

In the past, my self doubt fostered possessiveness- thinking the more alcohol I consumed, the happier I would be.   When we lack confidence in our own capabilities, when we fear we don’t measure up (as mothers, friends, sisters, daughters, wives, employees), we cling to an old behavior or an unhealthy habit.

When I was sober, I isolated myself because of my social anxiety.  And when I would relapse, I would feel such tremendous guilt and shame!  I constantly felt that I was letting down my family and AA.  It’s a gut-wrenching and painful feeling.  But deep down, I knew I wasn’t ready to give up alcohol!  I would ignore these thoughts and keep them hidden from everyone.  And then every time I thought of drinking (or actually took that drink),  I would live in this constant state of fear!  The fear of disappointing those closest to me… the fear of not being PERFECT in the eyes of my family, of my friends, and of God!

When I finally admitted to my husband and teenage boys that I was really truly struggling with my sobriety,  A PEACE SETTLED OVER ME.  A Calm,  a Freedom,  and a Gratitude.  I could finally be honest with myself and others.

Maybe my addiction and awareness of its affects became truly a blessing.  Because early on, alcohol gave me comfort and the ability to survive.

I know I was trying most of my life to recreate pleasure or avoid pain. I believe we all do in one form or another, whether healthy or unhealthy.  In my teens, 20s, and 30s I was always trying to override the chaos in my head. I wanted to relax my mind and quiet its noise.  The quickest ways that I could find peace, mindfulness, enlightenment, and nirvana were usually unhealthy….food ( or lack there of), exercising to the extreme, pain killers, or alcohol.

As  a full-blown addict I was very narcissistic! Always driven by perfectionism, selfishness, and that heart-breaking need for recognition.  Every single “pleasure-giving” thing had to be guzzled, hoarded, swallowed, and possessed.  And for what?  One hour of pleasure and 23 hours of pain?

Experimenting with alcohol again… the questions in the back of my mind are always:  What will happen if I don’t follow this compulsion to drink? I would feel way too vulnerable! Especially those times when I most want to drink- when I feel depressed, unworthy, angry, jealous, or any other intense emotion. (Could I do it? Could I do it alone without alcohol?  How would I feel?  And would I be able to stop this compulsion?)  Once I set my mind to something it’s extremely hard to step back, take a breath, and truly consider the consequences.  In the past, I knew that when I took that first drink, that first pill… or when I starved myself, or purged-  the results would always end in disappointment and despair.  But, it did give me a distraction from the unsettling thoughts swirling around in my mind.  The scratching, unnerving sound of my constant negative thinking.

But NOW I ask myself, “Why am I having this craving? What is this pain?  What does it want?”.   These are always the questions I HAVE to ask myself when I have the desire to drink or before I take that first drink.

I do believe addiction to be a calling, a blessing of sorts.  It forces you to confront your demons, change your habits, and reach out to a power greater than yourself.  I have learned so much about myself through this continuous journey.  It is a journey that many don’t approve of, but it is one that I must experience in order to find myself.

When I was deep in my addiction and drinking the heaviest, I felt trapped in a prison, unable to breathe.  Ironically, when I was completely sober for long periods of time- I started to feel exactly the same way!  I discovered that I was just as unhappy (or even more) when I wasn’t drinking because I was unable to express myself confidently.  I still just wasn’t comfortable in my own damn skin.  Behind my damaged perceptions, there is fear. For me it’s a fear of not being good enough (not being a good enough wife, daughter, mother, sister, or friend) So it made me wonder (sober or not), who is the ME I’m trying to protect from the outside world?  Why am I so scared to be myself?

I guess I never felt good enough. I felt different and awkward.  I was embarrassed and full of self-hatred.  I felt no one understood me, and every one thought I was weird.  As a teen, I couldn’t explain that hurt or that frustration or that pain to anyone.  Now that I look back, it was so obvious that I was struggling.  It was evident in the way I ate, in the way I exercised, in the way I related to people, and in the way I thought about myself.  So I learned to hide and to lie and to wear a “mask” wherever possible.  I accepted my thoughts as truth and I adapted.  I also learned that I could push the pain further down and completely extinguish it with alcohol.  But as we all find out, repressing emotions over a long period of time is unhealthy and will eventually tear you down!

When drinking and drugging, I was creating such chaos around me….but unbeknownst to me.  At first it was fun…then it became truly exciting… but eventually, it became depressing and humiliating.  I was always negotiating with my shadow side, the beast within, the devil as I see it!

My addiction became my dominant power.  It chose for me everyday and governed my choices for most of my life.  I bowed down to it.

In life, there are obstacles that prevent us from becoming the best versions of ourselves…of who we are meant to be.  We can let these obstacles de-rail us but we cannot let them kill us!  And I will NOT let my addiction kill ME!  I’m learning how to live with being an alcoholic but also with finding alternative options and moderations when need be.  I’m obviously not perfect and this journey of mine is unique and unpredictable.  It’s filled with plenty of pushing and breaking boundaries.  But also then, learning from these mistakes and becoming more humble, self-aware, and self-confident.

I have chosen this path- the path of an alcoholic choosing to drink again…. ONLY because my husband and children have given me this second chance!!!  My family (and extended…Mom, Dad, Lisa, Hughie, Uncle Bill, Aunt Karen, Mike and Tracey,  Nikki, G, Jude, and Keith…Dee) has Faith in me.  I know I am loved by them and I know how tremendously I love them back…I don’t want to lose that- I can’t!  They have boundaries, and I do not want to lose their respect!  I also have tremendous Faith and Hope that this journey will lead me to serenity and self-acceptance!  I know my sister, brother, and parents don’t totally agree with my current decisions, but I have to discover this unpredictable world on my own- I need to find myself and only I can do that!  But the ONE true presence in my life, the one that has always been there for me, the one that has forgiven me and loves me unconditionally….is God!  God will show me the way- I just have to keep reaching, seeking, and listening to him!

I just turned 50 years old, and I believe with age comes wisdom. I have come to realize that all of my secret fears, hatreds, and insecurities dominated my life for so long and I became defined by them at an early age.  My perception of reality was altered and biased.  I have discovered that I am not my thoughts.  And, it’s okay to have flaws, to be imperfect.

I am now trying to expose my truest and previously concealed self.  I HAVE NEVER FOUND LIFE AMONG HUMANS EASY,  BUT I AM JUST ANOTHER HUMAN  DEALING WITH LIFE.  Our feelings are only temporary.

Humility is key.  It’s about accepting who we are.  Stop justifying our story.  Stop clinging to the past, accept change, and be willing to forgive.  Forgiveness.  Letting Go.  Willing to accept that we are all flawed and suffering.  Surrender to a new way of doing things and living life.

I now know that I am not an unworthy, unlikeable person.  I am just a girl who lost her way and that no longer needs to harm herself or others; who can live comfortably in this world without too many heightened expectations and jealous comparisons, and who needs to stop obsessing over the opinions of others.

I might be ricocheting between worlds.  Some people in sobriety call it living in PURGATORY…but I honestly don’t feel that way.  I’m only trying to find my space and role in this world.

I know that serious, hard,  and true recovery from addiction means “No More Bullshit, No More Justifications, No More Quick Fixes”.  I know my choice isn’t the ideal answer, and I hope to find one real soon!  I’m just trying to find My Way and My Purpose in Life…as long as I don’t hurt those closest to me!  I must stay in truth, stay in the moment, and stay real!

I am learning that other people’s approval or disapproval can’t dictate my self-worth and confidence.

I hope to live lovingly and kindly, to pray for sobriety and peace, and to not fight AGAINST my disease!  I only wish to admire the beauty all around me!

I know that I am in constant negotiation with my disease.  I also know the devastating effect that alcoholism, addiction, and mental disorders have on my family and friends!  It’s way too close to home!

I can only hope to alleviate all of my fears through prayer and trust that my decisions are helpful to my PROGRESS as a confident and faithful individual.

I do not deny that I am an alcoholic, but I believe that I am on a “spectrum”.  I would not recommend this “experiment” with most alcoholics, but I truly believe that this will give me answers I need and am searching for.

There is no cure to this disease but a daily reprieve.  The disease is always there.  I feel it move through me, I feel it following me, I feel it lurking behind me.  When I’m in fear, self-doubt, or insecurity- it beckons me!

But I am Strong!  I found this quote…

“I understood myself only after I destroyed myself.  And only in the process of fixing myself, did I know who I really was.”

I know it’s a Privilege to drink and I do not take it for granted.  I have been given a second chance and I want to use it wisely.  With my husband and children allowing me to explore the unknown and unpredictable without judgement, there has become so much more space in my world now!  This world is so expansive and so full of wonder!  There’s so much to discover!

When I start to feel agitated or triggered, of course that glass of wine feels so mind-numbingly beautiful!  But now I also try to balance that action with healthy things that I love to do! (Exercise, being outdoors, walking my dog, completing jigsaw puzzles, reading books).  Things that remind me of who I am when I forget!  Things that keep me in my skin when I’m full of self-loathing!  Things that take me home to that 10 year old girl I so loved!


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