Hello, all.* Can you tell I have a few more hours of free-time lately? Ha. I am starting to worry I will bore you with all of these Life updates….
Well, I am here today, because I did a big thing. I posted my tattoo and the reason for my tattoo on FB Sunday evening. Here is some of what I wrote:
Friends, I am Sober. And have been sober for this past year. I found sobriety because I had lost Myself. Truly. Lost her. Did not know where or who or what I was anymore. I could see my Beautiful Life and I would marvel at the fact I was not happy inside of it. How could I not be happy?! But I wasn’t. After turning over so many aspects of myself, trying to figure out what was wrong with me, I kept hitting my head against the truth – I had slowly, without realizing it, begun to center my world around drinking. And so? After a long, painful, pissed-off bit of soul-searching, one day, I just let go of trying to control it all. I let go and stopped drinking on June 9, 2015. 390 days later? I am more Myself, more present, more confident, and more happy to be alive than I ever have been as an adult.
And the response was overwhelmingly positive. People commenting, liking, all the kind things people do to recognize others on the ol’ FB. I even had one old acquaintance reach out to me privately and tell me she was also sober, and had been sober for 15 years. Yow! And another friend wrote me and said he had begun sobriety about the same time as I did. Again, wowwowwow. So overwhelmed with Kindness (my word o’ the year) and living honestly and openly.
I had a number of people make the comments of either, ‘I had no idea!’ or ‘You are so brave!’ And while the first relates to living as a high-functioning alcoholic so that no one sees what’s really going on (Of which, I am not surprised, but also a little sad about.), the second… I feel it relates to the social stigma still associated with sobriety and being in recovery. It’s an interesting line to walk being sober and being in this world that loves booze and fun and letting loose so much. It’s interesting because of the challenges of feeling like I am the odd one out. There’s the whole fear-of-missing-out syndrome based on the many, many advertisements and product placements, and general depictions of people having-fun-by-drinking-together in most of our entertainment options, as well as that same ol’ FB engine that perpetuates the images of friends drinking and laughing and going to breweries and pub-hopping, etc. And with all that, we few, we happy few (Henry V), are walking through this alcohol-soaked world thinking we have something to hide. How absurd is that? …. Yes, of course, the shame of past transgressions and foibles and times when we-did-that-when-we-were-drunk (x 1,000,001 for me personally)…. But stepping into sobriety, we can be proud we stepped away from our past. We can be proud we took a positive step in order to help ourselves. There is no shame in sobriety, nor should there be.
Of course, here I sit, struggling with whether or not to show you all a picture of my real self, and like an anxious hypocrite, I can’t quite rip that bandage off yet. I am so close, but just not yet. Much of my hesitation has to do with the stories I’ve told here about what I did while drinking. Some of it has to do with my identification as a woman with bipolar as well.
Again, Stigma… noun: 1. a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person.
Why is it we stigmatize our hurt? Why are our hurt and our pain thought to be negative? Things to be ashamed of? Even what I have found in the past 36 hours is that living my truth is not so bad. It’s actually very liberating and relaxing, because I am not working to keep a secret. I came clean (again). I know there’s a history, as well as a present-day condition within our world that demands we be unkind to those who are different and other, but when we embrace our truths and tell our stories, isn’t it true we grow stronger and more compassionate and less judgmental because knowledge is power. Truth is power. Cliches, sure, but soso true.
Has my own introspection given me the courage to self-identify? …. Hrm. Not yet. A little anti-climactic, isn’t it? Sorry. But we’ll see in the future. I have done so much to embrace and to own my whole self (this past weekend especially), I feel I am close. But not today.
Day 392, yes, and not yet.
p.s. Made it to the Summer Solstice and forgot all about it! That’s 3 rounds of moving with the universe. Onto the next!