In a good way.
In a good way.
I have been thinking a lot about my experience of alcoholism and my journey and ‘my story,’ as so many websites and recovery groups focus on and pinpoint the concept. And I don’t think I am quite ready to put words to my story just yet… Still embarrassing. Still regretful. Still a bit of me wishes I could jump into my time machine and have a do-over (or, more accurately, many, many do-overs).
But, I have also been thinking and listening to so many others’ stories – brave, courageous, vulnerable, open stories… About their lives, all out there in the open for me and the world to look at, and I realize I am not alone or original or more fucked up than anyone else. Our stories are like art – they can’t be compared. They’re not about competition or being the Most… or Least… Anything. There is no winning with our stories. There might be some humor or self-deprecation (well, lots of that), but they stand alone. They are complete within themselves.
In the past 10-15 years, as I quickly and sometimes slowly spun into alcoholism, I thought I was the only one. I’m the oldest in my family as well, so my ego-centrism already had strong beginnings, but in my relationship with alcohol, I thought I was alone and that no one understood or saw or knew what I was going through. The shame I mentioned yesterday (here) only compounded my isolation, propelling me to seek it, to want it, to plan it, and to protect it. (What an idiot.) It was all about Me, and how sad I was, how lonely (irony) I was, and how overworked/overstressed/overeverything I was. I had walls of trophies in my head recognizing my awesomeness in Self-Sacrificing, Martyrdom, and Jack-of-All-Trades. I talk about this a lot, but I thought I had to be a WonderWoman so that no one would notice … so that I wouldn’t notice how desperate my situation had become. How lonely I was. How alone.
I never reached out for help. I thought, because there was no one like me, that I better keep on keeping on and doing it all Better Than Anyone Else. I was first. And best. And unbeatable. Uncatchable. I was so far in front of the pack, I could take a nap, eat an ice cream cone, and read a novel, while I waited for the rest of the world to catch up with me… Except I didn’t. I never stopped because I didn’t think I could. If I did, someone would catch-up and really See me. The me I needed and wanted to hide. The me I thought no one would ‘get’ or understand.
But here and now, and thanks to many stories and blogs before mine, I realize I am not unique. I am not special. I am completely unoriginal. And that suits me fine.
For the first time, I am not hiding from the words: ‘I am an alcoholic.’
For the first time, I do not think I can do it all alone, nor am I trying to. I am asking and seeking and looking for help and connection to Others, who are wiser than me, who know this journey, and who care.
For the first time, I do not think I am a bad person for having lost myself in Drink. Still embarrassed, yes, by some of my actions in the past, but I can now separate the drinking Me from the actual Me. Drink doesn’t define me. It is not who I am. The drink had disguised itself (as monsters do), and I mistook it for my Life. I thought it was me – even in the mirror, I thought the drink was me. I couldn’t distinguish between us. But now, having stepped back and gotten a different perspective, I see the cracks in my monster’s disguise. I am slowly separating us one from the other.
For the first time, I am happy not to be a WonderWoman. I don’t have to prove a damned thing because I am here, chugging along, happy in my little day-to-day world as it is. No jumping through flaming hoops, or doing a tap dance on the high wire.
For the first time, I see that I am not alone. That I am not special. That this has happened before a thousand times to millions of people. And although that fact is sad, it is also comforting.
Day 21, plain and beautifully unoriginal.