We are all recovering from something. Recovery is…..
It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. I was inching my way towards the reality of what I had become. The reality of my mortality, and the choices that lead me there.
Today. Today is May 3, 2021. It’s 7:54PM. In less than two weeks, I will be FOURTY THREE. I can look back on the years. Despite all promises and advice to keep moving forward. I always look back.
I have let myself become a slave of my past. In hopes of understanding, accountability, acceptance, and culpability, I only created more issues in how to deal with things and overcome them. I resented it. The self loathing and difficulties arising directly from my unhealthy coping mechanisms make a path straight to addiction impossible to ignore.
Now, better late than never, I push off from here. It has been one year, eight months, fourteen hours, 18….19 seconds and the rest of my life since my recovery from myself began.
I am a 43 year old child. I am a 43 year old that is terminal.
We are all terminal, they say. Before you run, you must learn to walk, they say. You don’t have to do it all at once, they say. We are not our mistakes, they say.
I am a middle aged, over weight, financially dependent woman who still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up.
I know what I don’t want.
I don’t want to walk the fine line.
I don’t want to approach the slippery slope.
I want to live.
The biggest lie we are ever told is there is time. Both feet on the ground, head up, tits up, proudly and cautiously MOVE FORWARD.
“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”
Hyper suspish: Extremely concerned and distrustful of everyone and everything. That’s my new word that says I am exceedingly defensive about small things.
The small things feel like big things. My self improvement is what got me here, but I have reached a place where things within my head are in flux, and my heart is still being mended. Intense waves of pain in my stomach and my head spins, my heart beats like the wings of a hummingbird. I try to meditate, as I am just trying this method to reassociate my senses by appealing to them with feelings of safety and intensions of direction. I’m trying new things that I have not tried before, thinking ways I have not thought before.
I have always scoffed at yoga and meditations because it was truly my least favorite thing to do. As a young athlete I would have been a completely different athlete had I taken advantage of the time on the mat. As an adult in recovery, this is a point I want to target for releasing of anger, trauma, and overall health. This is being proactive. The method of “from the bottom up,” I spoke of in my last blog, has to do with this extremely hard skill that I am in desperate need of learning. Redirecting emotions still have to be directed to something. Feelings are going to manifest and flow, where I go from there is the difficult part. Besides which dealing with people at all is a skill in itself, it’s a necessity, and not everyone is in recovery.
My limits have and will be tested. I am no one any better than anyone else. I am on a similar path of many before me. The path to freedom. The path to letting go. The path to something greater. Things that shouldn’t cause the reactions are being poured into the open. I stumbled. I put off and received nothing but anger towards myself and those around me. I am ashamed. I hate having to set boundaries, but even when you set them, they may not be received as intended. I’m not one that is able to “put my BEST foot forward.” I put everything forward. BOOM. “Hi, I’m Julie. I am an alcoholic, oh was that too soon?, oh and I am in the midst of a giant turning point in my life…..oh I’m sorry….” I have been fighting it my entire life. I didn’t realize that every teenager on the planet thinks the world is looking at them and everything they say is awkward and makes no sense. I’m still that teenager.
There are things about me that I would hope could be appreciated or admired, but there are days I just want to scream into the echo chamber……….
and what I hear back…
from the distant
but not so far away future me….
“It’s all going to be ok. You are not alone.”
“Keep going, you’re on the right track.”
“Your current safe boundaries were once unknown frontiers.”
Being complacent in life is inevitably going to lead to a stagnant slow death. Without reason to do more than just survive in life, you are accepting your life as it is. Why wouldn’t anyone want to move past a point in life that has left them feeling powerless and stuck?
If only it were that easy.
Hi, I’m Julie. I was assaulted.
Hi, I’m Julie. I’m an alcoholic.
Hi, I’m Julie. I was a victim of narcissistic abuse.
Hi, I’m Julie. I used to swim, but then I was a disappointment.
Hi, I’m Julie. I have liver disease.
I had years of feeling like I should warn people, or explain to them why I am the way I am. Then they would understand if I freaked out and started crying for no reason, or maybe I might have a panic attack and choke or get dry mouth, or what if they think I’m just a little strange. The anxiety was crippling and irrational.
My love affair with alcohol began.
When I drank I was able to simultaneously let my guard down and momentarily feel free from the load baring weight of my uncontrollable fear. Whether I chose to deal with something head on, or linger in the experience far too long, my brain lives there. My brain keeps me there, just in case. Retraining your brain to associate a feeling with something from the present that appeals to at least 3 of the five senses. This practice that can ultimately change the way your body reacts to stress. It makes sense that you have to retrain your chemical reactions to experiences in order to process new experiences and grow.
So today is Mother’s Day, 2021. It is May 9, and I have been on this path of recovery for 1 year 9 months, and 4 days. I showered, I drank coffee, I made my bed, and I was appreciated. Without change we cannot progress. We need to think beyond our fears and strive to continue becoming.
“Dissociation is the essence of trauma as it makes the experience split off and fragmented so that emotions, sounds, images, thoughts, and physical sensations related to the trauma take a life of their own. These fragments intrude into the present and are relived.”
Van Der Kolk,M.D., Bessel. The Body Keeps The Score, workbook, pg.14-15.. PookeTBooks, 2020.
I have often felt like I would do ANYTHING to be accepted and loved. Without others to remind me of my worth, I lack confidence. This is something I can remember even as a small child. If I set a boundary, I felt bad about it, and often questioned myself for not sacrificing my needs to meet the needs of others. It seems it is all about perspective. We all want our time to be valued, we all want to be respected and not taken advantage of. It is not a limit of love, it is a limit of what you can and will tolerate.
This is where being sober changes things. I have to evaluate my life and those in it in a much different way. I have been toxic, I have been needy, I have been chaotic, especially in my drinking life. My emotional weaknesses were exacerbated and incredibly difficult to control. I have never trusted my own judgement and so I need a plethora of opinions on things before I can commit. I consider this to be flaw in the myself, and I have set a goal to clearly, soberly, and steadfast protect myself. I am non apologetic for admitting I need help. I will never apologize for that. It’s sad to me that we need boundaries. They feel like a thick layered warning label about who you are and what you expect from people.
This is the drinkers first plight, at least it was for me. I went from a tongue tied awkward wall flower to the life of the party. Or so I thought, it was also a good way to put your best foot forward and then land right on your face. And believe me when I say, I have LITERALLY done this very thing, and I was long past knowing better.
As with anything, when you begin to feel comforted by your peers and you all share a common habit, it’s easy to live in the luxury of denial. The space where anything is still possible. A space in your head where you can live with things the way they are, in fact, you really can’t picture life any different. It’s not until you see the fear and love in the eyes of those around you, or even more shocking, when you see the fear in your own eyes.
Maybe it hasn’t done unrepairable damage yet.
Maybe I will be the exception.
Maybe I will forgive myself.
Maybe I won’t be any fun sober, (This irony that lies within this sentence is beyond measurement).
There are two chasms in time now, there is the “Pickled Julie,” followed by the magical and preferred time of “Non pickled Julie..?”
I am not a fan of cliche’ advice. I do not adhere to the 12 steps, AA is not for me. Regardless of how you decide to approach your recovery, I believe that we can only grow and better ourselves if we are aware of our motives, our words, our thoughts, and our actions. I would like to see those attributes streamline into an integral part of my being. I have hopes that as time goes on and I continue to be conscious of my self talk and my boundaries with people, I will continually better myself and be more confident in how I handle situations.
I went into this with the understanding that some people may not play a role in my recovery. Today recovery is letting that be ok. My world will not collapse, the sun will come up, and the anxiety will fade. Friendship is not a one way street, and it’s not a dead end. Sometimes it’s not equal in giving, and sometimes it’s not equal in taking. It is ok when someone must exit and take a left on their own path of life. Perhaps one day, our paths will meet again. Right now, I must be selfish. I am growing roots, it’s a delicate place in my life cycle. I can only be grateful for those that have crossed my current path and those that have remained by my side. No one needs to hold me up, but I might just want someone to walk next to me sometimes.
I am not perfect, in fact, I absolutely abhor the word. Perfection is not only impossible (so how would we even know what it would look like?) but it is also subjective. I just want to appreciate myself, know myself, like myself, and DO BETTER!
“The secret of change to focus all your energy, not in fighting the old, but on building the new.”