***Submitted by Monica
It’s such a tricky thing, being comfortable enough… brave enough… vulnerable enough, to own this piece of my story. I could give you the lowdown on the whole dirty truth, but to be honest, I’m not ready to do that here – even though this forum leaves my identity, essentially, unknown. And so, I will tell you about today, about thoughts that come with this ‘living’ thing that I’m trying to do - minus the anesthetic.
I’m 27-years-old. I’m an elementary school teacher and a wannabe writer. I’ve always been a book-devourer. I seem to have a thing for reality TV. And I am an alcoholic.
I wish I was writing something different right now: I wish I could tell you that I’d jumped in to recovery with both feet, surrendered to the solution, and had a significant amount of sobriety. But I can’t, and I don’t. January 9, 2011 marks day one of this day count. I’ve been trying to quit drinking and using for well over a year. As we entered 2011 I had 4 ½ months of sobriety under my belt. But addiction yells so loudly sometimes, and has this fine-tuned ability to conjure up completely believable justifications for another drink or drug.
And it’s never just one.
When I got honest with my sponsor about my relapse I was flooded with intense emotions: anger, shame, guilt, remorse, defeat, sadness. I felt that everything I had gained in the 4 ½ months was erased with the end of the day count. I believed I was a failure: that I wasn’t cut out to do this “sobriety thing”.
As I ‘begin’ this journey again, though, I am coming to believe that while my day count might be beginning again, and my sobriety date has changed (hopefully for the last time), the growth hasn’t been deleted: I can’t erase awareness or un-see patterns.
There are so many moments when I get scared of growth, because it is so unknown. I seem to have the spiraling out of control thing down pat, but this growth thing is totally foreign and scary. And so I get scared, take one – or both – feet out of this recovery thing, put them in running shoes, and bolt. This pattern is something that I can’t un-see: knowing this truth about how I behave is leagues beyond what I could have told you about myself six months ago, or even one month ago. Awareness of this pattern is growth, and it hasn’t been erased.
I feel like I’m re-learning how to do everything. All of the everyday experiences like going to the grocery store and going to work feel brand new as I struggle to take them on without any numbing agents in my system. Thoughts and emotions are felt intensely. Every event is experienced in hyper-coloured extremes. These everyday challenges drive me to run just as much as any growth or tragedy. Many times I crave that numb existence I know so well. My entire being feels like it’s been ripped from the comfort of what comes so naturally and thrown into alien surroundings. Navigating this new territory is tough stuff. And again, I find myself fighting the urge to run… but with my awareness of this – with the growth that I haven’t lost - I am able to interrupt that dangerous thought for a moment.
And so, I take a deep breath, take off the running shoes, throw them in the closet, and shut the door. I put on my comfy slippers and I pick up the phone. I call my friend & sponsor and ramble on about the kids at work today and what I had for breakfast and a new experience that I had at a meeting last night. I get brave enough to spew the thoughts spinning around in this crazy head. And I do the best I can with the rest of this day - keeping my slippers on - because sometimes I get cold feet, and, as my sponsor pointed out, slippers are that wonderful, comforting, ‘stay-put’ kind of footwear.