Over Thinking

Yabbering

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Toph: And then when I was nine, I ran away again. I know I shouldn’t complain, my parents gave me everything that I ever asked for. But they never gave me the one thing that I really wanted. Their love. You know what I mean?

I have a tendency to overshare. It was the most pronounced when I drank. Through the haze of alcohol drinking buddies and even acquaintances became “soul mates”. We were “destined to meet” and obviously had “a real connection” because after a few drinks we were pouring our hearts (and our personal business) out.

I am an empathetic listener and love psychoanalyzing people, so I have a way of getting people to open up to me. Of course, I always opened up about myself too. To an alarming degree at times. Then, the next time Sober Me (with a less than perfect memory of what we talked about) met the recipient of my confessions, I would be embarrassed and worried about how much I’d revealed. My new “friend” would be baffled by what appeared to be an about face on my part. I, on the other hand, would pretty much be ready to bolt.

I know why I did it. I told my personal stories to anyone who would listen, just because I needed approval and love so badly. I needed self-acceptance so much that I wanted someone who heard my stories to tell me that I was still a good person, not broken, or if I was indeed broken, say that I was made the more beautiful for it.

I keep the telling of my personal stories in check now, revealing them to only trusted friends. The reason why I share anything now has also changed. It’s no longer because I desperately seek approval or proof of worth, and is instead to offer understanding and compassion.

“Our stories are not meant for everyone. Hearing them is a privilege, and we should always ask ourselves this before we share: “Who has earned the right to hear my story?” If we have one or two people in our lives who can sit with us and hold space for our shame stories, and love us for our strengths and struggles, we are incredibly lucky. If we have a friend, or small group of friends, or family who embraces our imperfections, vulnerabilities, and power, and fills us with a sense of belonging, we are incredibly lucky.” ~ Brene Brown

~*~

This is Post X, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Giving Into It

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Katara: I know sometimes it hurts more to hope and it hurts more to care. But you have to promise me you’ll never stop caring.

I can’t cry. Yes, it is surprising to me too. I talk so much about honouring your emotions and allowing them to spill out of you when they need to. Yet, I can honestly say, I can’t cry. Sure, I get worked up emotionally and I get choked up to the point of squeezing out a few tears. But I am so very in the habit of swallowing tears and taking those deep suck-up-the-whole-world-of-worry breaths that I just don’t cry.

I used to bawl. Under the influence, during pretty bad episodes. I’d bawl to the heavens and sob with anguish. But of course, I’d never get the release promised because I’d usually pass out drunk before such relief came. Then I’d wake up hollow and empty.

I’ve been reading up on the subject (because it worries me) and apparently this is a common problem with people who have addictive tendencies because it is used as a means of escape – of disconnecting. It’s root is the same: Fear. Disconnecting from our emotions manifests in specific ways: overeating, working excessively, drinking daily, engaging in compulsive sex, working long hours, and many other types of compulsive behavior. We push our feelings down through excessive behavior, to make sure we do not feel them at that moment. In my case, now that the alcohol is out of the picture for me, it seems like analysis (writing), and overeating may have taken its place.

What really struck a chord with me was reading this:

“People spend much time talking about how they feel.  They attend workshops, they visit therapists, and they tell others who did what to them and describe how they feel about it.  They talk and talk about their feelings but they don’t feel their feelings.  They intellectualize and analyze their feelings without feeling them. People are afraid to really feel their feelings, afraid of losing control, afraid of the pain involved in feeling their emotions, of feeling the sense of loss or failure or whatever the emotion brings with it.   People are afraid to cry.  So much of life is about what you feel rather than what you think. Don’t be afraid to feel your feelings.  Feeling them means owning them. Being strongly connected to your emotional life is essential to living a life with high energy and a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction.”

So… I want all of that. I want to be connected to my emotional side on an analytical level and on an expressive level. I want to feel my way through life. I don’t mind talking or writing my way through feelings, but I’d rather not talk or write to the point of numbing them. I miss the surrender.

Phoenix

~*~

This is Post G, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the kick-ass story lines, beautifully developed characters and exceptional storyboards) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here.

Accountability

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Uncle Iroh has just watched a group of boys accidentally kick a ball through a window.
Uncle Iroh: [to the boys] It is usually best to admit mistakes when they occur, and to seek to restore honour.
Angry Man: [coming to the window and shouting] When I’m through with you kids, the window won’t be the only thing broken!
Uncle Iroh: [to the boys] But not this time. Run!

Accountability seems to be the word of the day today. From production errors made by staff members at work, to discussions with my editor about anonymity for an upcoming article. Last year I wrote six articles under a pseudonym for an online magazine about early sobriety. The articles did very well in terms of number of hits and shares, and readers were interested and hopefully helped. Now I’ve written a new article about my first year of sobriety and the ways in which I got through it. The magazine will be publishing the new article soon and  I am considering using my real name as author this time – sort of finally owning my story and giving my journey the respect it deserves. But will I really be owning my story by simply giving it my name? And if I choose not to use my name, would this mean that I deem my story a shameful one which should be denied a name?

To tell you the truth I am wary of opening up myself for criticism I might not be all that ready to handle. I still consider myself new to this having only been sober for one year, and while I think I have a better handle on minimizing self-judgment, I am not sure I am ready to handle negative judgment from strangers who are not on a similar journey.

I know that accountability is important to me and I know I have nothing to be ashamed of. I have made mistakes and poor decisions while under the influence of alcohol, and sometimes I do still feel remorse and regret that certain things happened. But those mistakes don’t make me a mistake. I don’t feel ashamed of myself any more. I have accepted that those mistakes and poor decisions are a part of my past and I  endeavour daily to be a better person. And in fact, most days I am even proud of where I am now. But, in this case, I wonder what hiding behind a pseudonym would mean. In doing so am I saying that the person I am today is unwilling to be held accountable for mistakes I’ve made in the past? Or more simply, would staying anonymous mean that am I unwilling to be accountable to myself?

I have much to think about.

~*~

This is my first post, A, in the A to Z Blogging Challenge 2015. My 26 posts are inspired by the quotes from Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, two Emmy award-winning animated television series created and produced by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The setting for both series is in an Asian-influenced world of martial arts and elemental manipulation. The shows drew on elements from East Asian, South Asian, and Western culture, and (aside from the beautifully developed characters and kick-ass story lines) are where I found a wealth of inspiration and perspective on my own life.

The rest of my A to Z 2015 posts can be found here. 

Booze-free Breakups, Blueberries and the Brightside

A few days into Sober Singledom and I’m doing alright. The episodes of being Miss Bitch while driving (swearing in sign language at incompetent and inconsiderate motorists, or grinding my teeth when faced with ineptitude at the office) are becoming less and less. Today is a rough one. I know my temper is short these days so I am reminding myself to breathe. Nevertheless, I have learned a few tricks while finding my way about this unfamiliar territory.

THE BOOZE-FREE BREAKUP

It’s remarkable how much this week has reminded me of the first few days after quitting, with the odd sleeping hours and the over-thinking. It’s ridiculous! Without the usual alcohol numbing escape I am analyzing everything. In between the “WTF” and the “How dare he?” questions, [Okay Phoenix, give Mr. Potato Head back his angry eyes] there are the “What if it’s really me?”, “What if I’m f***ed up?” and “What if I’m unlovable and will never be a compatible with anyone?” feelings. I know it’s okay to be sad, feel vulnerable and have my mind’s cogs turning and questioning everything.  I’m going with it but being careful not to get carried away by it. I accept that my sadness and regret stem from the fact that I’ve lost something that was a part of me, into which I put time, effort and emotion. It is natural for me to feel regret and loss but I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I am NOT back to square one. I am not the same person I was before the relationship began and today’s Me has so many new opportunities that the old me didn’t.

BUSY, NOT BOOZY

Ok, maybe I’m overdoing it a bit with the alliterations but work with me. I have a plan. I’ve been keeping myself busy without running from the rough stuff. I know I need to process everything to get through it, but I’m also taking care of ME in little ways, with mani-pedis, full body scrubs and moisturizing. You know how after a break-up, life feels surreal? Well being in contact with my own skin helps me to feel present and grounded. I’ve gotten a haircut and covered the 3mm of gray hair that would’ve frustrated me a week from now. I went to the dentist to clean and polish my pearly whites. I keep a new canvas with paints and brushes at the ready and try not to binge watch TV series, unless I really need to. I have my girls on call for silly pep talk or a heart to heart, and reach out on my blog when I need to. (Thanks so much to all of you for reaching back). I cleaned my apartment and de-cluttered my kitchen. Oh! Speaking of kitchens…

BLUEBERRIES

I can’t run to booze, cigs, or weed to alter my mood, so I’m keeping my fridge stocked with feel-happy foods. Did you know that there are many foods that actually have a positive effect on our mood? Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries contain nutrients that help reduce stress and depression. Dark chocolate (yum) is high in magnesium, a mineral that calms muscles and reduces stress and anxiety. It also contains phenylethylamine (the same chemical generated by the brain when falling in love), causing the release of endorphins. Salmon and walnuts are packed with omega-3 which helps fight depression and mood swings. Avocados, coconut milk, almond milk and mushrooms all contain vitamin D which can improve mood by enhancing the production of the happy hormone, serotonin. Synthesized by the body in response to sunlight, serotonin becomes a feel-good neurotransmitter. Greek yogurt is a mood and immune system booster. Green tea, which is my go-to hot beverage, is full of theanine, an antioxidant which acts as a calming agent. I always knew bananas were a happy food and add them to my smoothies a few times per week. They are full of energy, vitamin B6, tryptophan, iron, magnesium and potassium. In fact, one banana has enough stress-reducing magnesium for the entire day!

THE BRIGHTSIDE

My impatience won’t last and I have admitted that the Universe is not really out to get me. I am so thankful that I am not dissolving into tears which I may very well have been doing if I’d been drinking. Being weepy and sorry for myself always came hand in hand with being too drunk.

I tell myself that the over-thinking and super analyzing is going to get me where I need to go much quicker. Instead of swallowing the rough feelings with whichever drink of choice as I would’ve done before, I am woman-ing up (with my pillow in hand) and allowing those pesky feelings to be sorted out.

My ex and I are on good terms and that’s a relief. We might even become better friends down the road because there was no damning, reckless,hurtful or resentful behaviour by either party in the end.

Because I have a sober head and able to stop an emotional meltdown, I am happy to report that I don’t see any risk of me turning to hook-ups to feel less needy. I know it is natural to feel that way after a break up as I am out of my comfort zone and just want to feel safe again, but that won’t happen by jumping into waiting arms or onto a waiting body. The age old advice: “The best way to get over someone is to get under someone else” is utter BS. Those rebound relationships are never good. For me anyway. All my life, all they have ever done was delay the process of healing.

All these blueberries and dark chocolate and body treatments are actually good for my skin. Taking care of myself is comforting and protective in a way. I feel safe and fairly stable.

Remaining sober and taking care of myself physically has allowed me to be more present and recognize the positive things that are happening. I found the gumption to request and receive a raise at work which allowed me to buy my sister’s car. She is migrating so the sale of the car will help cover her start up costs. New articles are being published and proposals for future commissions have been accepted. I have seven articles due, my mom is visiting next week and I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a break up, or booze jeopardize the positive adventures coming my way – career-wise, creatively or otherwise.

Love and light, Phoenix.

Click here for Blueberry Coconut Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate Bits

How Did I Get This Far?

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Two days ago my sister sent me an early Happy One Year message to say congratulations. I’ve been silent on this blog for a couple of months because my mind and heart were filled with unanswerable questions every time I tried to write a new post. As my anniversary approached I really had no idea how I would feel on the day itself.

Would I feel a sense of accomplishment? Or would I feel strange and a bit directionless as I usually do after a very rewarding experience? A tiny part of me even speculated that I’d feel sorrow or a sense of loss as I would no longer be a ‘newbie’ with all the gentleness, kindness and kid-glove handling that usually comes with being at the beginning of any journey that is deemed difficult. And then of course, there was the part of me that was a little freaked out by the big “So What Now” question. I even felt a bit guilty because, while my first year has been an intense emotional journey, for me it has not been particularly challenging physically or mentally (aside from the over-thinking). I know of so many others who are really struggling and I wish I could help. I’m not certain of what is different about my journey so far that has allowed me to reach this milestone, but I can tell you what has helped me:

CRAWL AROUND IN YOUR WOUNDS, SO YOU CAN HOPE AGAIN

In the first few months learning to recognize and understand what my triggers were helped me a lot.  Learning to accept and gently face my own personal issues has become invaluable to my growth. It’s not easy and sometimes I want to damn it all to hell. Believe me, I miss the abandon that can come from giving in to the madness. Sometimes I miss not caring so much. But, the trade-off is worth so much more to me than giving in. I have embraced walking around in my wounds, hand in hand with my dark side, and facing the shadows together, and I have to say, some days I actually enjoy exploring this new territory because I know that I’m wiser, tougher, and more whole because of it.

“As frightening as it can be, that pain will make you stronger. If you allow yourself to feel it, embrace it, it will make you more powerful than you ever imagined. It’s the greatest gift we have, and it comes from the most human part of us: Hope.”  Professor X, X-men: Tales of Future Past

UNDERSTAND THAT YOU ARE NOT BROKEN

In the beginning I worried a lot about what people would say. I was ashamed and felt dirty, broken, unattractive. I thought that having a problem meant that I was a problem. Of course, I was wrong and even now, I still have to remind myself often. It’s takes a lot of work to change self-defeating habits into self-appreciating ones but it IS possible. You are not broken. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Making the decision to give up drinking is a big step in itself, one you should be proud of. Trying every day is also another.

“I stand firm in my belief that anyone who has repeatedly demonstrated that they do not posses an off switch would be far happier if they stopped trying to locate one. Stopping drinking for such people equates to the beginning of self-love, contentment and living a full life. Freeing the mind by calling it a day on the fight with alcohol is a true gift.” Soberistas

FIND A COMMUNITY

In the beginning I went to a few AA meetings because that was what was expected. I found a greater sense of community and healing here however, on the Sober Blogging Network. I could relate better to fellow writers and bloggers. No matter what “our drug of choice” is, or the level of our addiction, the struggles we face are the same. We all endeavour to value ourselves enough to take care of ourselves. We all face demons and dark sides of our past in the first few months of sobriety, and we all have to find the tools to deal with them and heal. We all have to come to an understanding about our triggers. We all want to feel better and be proud of our accomplishments. We all want compassion. We all want to be understood and to believe that we are not alone. Whether that sense of community comes from the Sober Blogging Network or from AA Meetings, it is invaluable to have. Find a community that feels comfortable for you and say Hi. You’ll find that there is always someone willing to smile back at you.

IT’S OKAY TO ASK FOR HELP

Trust me when I say that it is okay to ask for help. Whether you ask members of your AA group, the Sober Blogging Network, your friends, the higher power you believe in, or even me, you will find peace in asking. This is not a journey you have to undertake alone.

BE OF SERVICE

On the days when I feel at my lowest and the most disconnected from myself are the days when I feel purposeless. Those are the days when I stay under the blanket and binge watch TV series like Vikings or Games of Thrones, or Harry Potter movies, just to disappear into a another world. But, once I get tired of hiding, (and feeling sorry for myself), I get to work. I look for ways to be of service. Trust me, helping others, helps you in so many ways too. I have found so much of myself by being compassionate and caring when I can. The big and the little things do make a difference.

STRUCTURE

I figured out what worked for me and what brought me dangerously close to the edge. I changed my socializing habits and my diet. I made lists of what was important to me, pinned them to the fridge and stashed them in my wallet. I made a commitment to this blog. I focused on making the creative pursuits I enjoy a greater part of my life. I made a commitment to healing myself, physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. What worked, I kept. What didn’t, I tossed (without looking at myself as a failure). Different methods suit different people. Figure out what suits you and makes YOU happy.

“Part of recovery is structure: Recognizing what is working and sticking with it.” Sherlock, Elementary

NOW, TODAY IS THE DAY

I have officially been sober for 365 days. Yay me! I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth of emotion I felt when I received my sister’s message that day. For the rest of that day, I was one of those people you see walking around with little smiles tugging at the corners of their lips. I was happy with ME. I was proud of myself, finally. And I still am.

Love and light to you all,

Phoenix

Self-Destruction or Self-Preservation?

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“You don’t have a drinking problem you know. You just have to stop letting the bad stuff get to you. It’s only when you drink that you bring up all that old stuff and then you end up drinking more and crying.”

Worst advice I’ve ever been given. But in his defense, the person who said that had been a drinking buddy for a long time. In his defense I was still determinedly running from my darkside, hand in hand with Johnnie, Jack, and Jager.

But in my buddy’s “advice” lay two main truths. I was letting the ‘bad stuff’ (old demons, any perceived slights, rejections and unfair treatment) get to me. When new bad stuff happened and I dealt with it by drinking, all I would talk about would be the old bad stuff. And then the inevitable alcohol soaked outpouring would drench my world and any ready ear, friend or stranger.

It is astonishing (and a bit disturbing), the number of people I told about the bad stuff: about the stuff that bothered me to my core.  Okay, yes, they still bother me but I am learning how to deal with them in a healthier way, with self preservation in mind instead of self destruction. Self destruction only ever told me that my fears of being unworthy, unlovable or undeserving were warranted. I thought myself ‘bad’ and treated myself as such.

Anyway, to get back on topic. Alcohol never made anything better. Sure, the first couple of drinks felt good because all the pleasure centers in my brain were tickled, tricking me into believing that this high meant I was happy. But the warning bells would already be going off by the end of glass two. I would choose to ignore them and the switch would be flipped.

Now that the alcohol induced fog has lifted and I’m allowing myself time to see, recognize and sit with the ‘bad stuff’, slowly but surely I am creating new ways of dealing with them. Bit by bit I am forming new habits. Instead of paying attention to the “I am feeling (insert difficult emotion here), so I want / need / deserve a drink” thoughts, I’m shifting my focus because I know drinking never really made anything better.

Yes, sometimes I don’t want to sit with my feelings or understand my triggers. Yes, sometimes I get tired of the over-thinking, and the mantras, and the pep talks to myself. But you know what? I’ll take being ‘frustrated with myself for brooding too much’ over ‘frustrated with myself for drinking’ any day. I know the brooding won’t last. I know that it’s all part of the process. I know it’s part of developing new habits, which instead of harming me, are actually helping me this time.

Love and light!

Phoenix

Photo Credit: Beyond The Mirror

Coming Up On One

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I’ve been thinking about if it would mean something to me when February 3rd rolls around and marks my one year soberversary. I’ve written about my response to friends who advised me to be careful around my eight month mark because they knew people who had fallen off the wagon around this time. I said that it’s not about counting the days or months for me. It has about understanding the nature of my relationship with alcohol, recognizing my triggers, and learning how to truly care about myself.

But, lately I’ve been thinking that there is something important and beautiful about reaching that One Year milestone. My guy says that the first anniversary is significant from a cyclical perspective. On February 3rd, I would’ve gone through Carnival, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, my birthday, loved ones’ birthdays, Christmas and New Year’s as a sober person. I would’ve celebrated and participated in yearly events differently than I had grown accustomed to. He has a point.

Then, as the Universe usually arranges, just as I was deep in thought about all of this one year anniversary stuff, I saw an episode of Elementary where Sherlock’s sponsor explained to him why he should care about his first soberversary:

Alfredo: Milestones like this one, they’re yours, but they’re not about you. They’re about all the people who haven’t got there yet.

Which of course I totally get. I have been so encouraged and energized by fellow bloggers who have made it past their first year:

Primrose just celebrated her first year, so did Vodka Goggles, and Sober Learning is days away from her anniversary.

Allie is at 9 months too like me.

Then there’s Cynthia Ann who talks about The Recovery Timeline on her blog Second Sobriety.

We are all so genuinely happy for one another when we succeed that the meaning of making these milestones, especially during our first year, has got to be greater than each of us.

A New Story

I had coffee with a new friend a few evenings ago. We had a great time comparing our stories and getting to know one another. Later that night, while I was falling asleep, I thought about all that we had talked about. I realized that while I was happy to have shared what I consider to be new stories, I had spoken of the old stories in the same way that I had been for a long time, despite the fact that a lot of time had passed and my understanding and interpretation of those old stories had changed.

I woke up feeling heavy and unsettled and it took me a few days to truly understand why. Even though I had long come to terms with the old stories and have accepted that they are a part of my past, I was still choosing to drag along with me the old heavy, hurtful, angry feelings they once produced.

I made a decision right then and there to choose more. To choose a new story for my old stories. I choose to love that they will forever be a part of my life and accept that they are important to me because they have made me who I am today. And I’m not half bad, when I really think about it.

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“The Moon stays bright when it doesn’t avoid the night….”

It’s ok to feel. It’s ok to let the darkness affect you. It’s ok to feel vulnerable and scared and alone and lost. It’s ok to hurt. It’s ok to grieve.

It’s not ok to push the dark away without owning it. It’s not ok to bury it so deep inside of you that it poisons you. It’s not ok to run from the dark to dark devices. It’s not ok to let the dark in you rush out in a rage lashing out and hurting you and those around you.

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For a long long time I equated vulnerability with weakness. I thought that showing that I was hurt or frustrated or desperate meant that I was weak. I thought it meant that I was incapable of being a mature adult capable of handling my stories. I would bury those emotions and feelings by cracking jokes, or reading a book or watching a movie. I would focus all of my energy on someone else’s problems telling myself I was just being a good listener and shoulder to cry on. I would meet my friends for drinks or have glasses of wine. I would get angry with myself for not feeling better. Can you imagine that? I would ask:

“What the hell is wrong with me? Why can’t I get past this? I should feel better by now. I can’t stand myself!”

But you know what? It is PERFECTLY OK to feel angry, upset, frustrated, worried, stressed, hurt, unhappy, desperate, scared, afraid and unsure. It’s ok to cry and stare up at the ceiling. It’s ok to want to crawl under the covers and stay there. It’s ok to want to watch tv all day with junk food on the couch next to you. It is ok to allow yourself to feel all of this. It’s necessary to allow it to swallow you sometimes. It is ok to sit with it for a while. That is the only way you can move past the darkness and into the light. And I promise you, the light will come. You WILL feel better.

“The moon stays bright when it doesn’t avoid the night.” ― Rumi

Now, I’m learning to allow myself to feel unsure and afraid that I wouldn’t let myself achieve what I was meant to. I allow myself some time to mourn for what I’ve lost, to feel remorse for mistakes I’ve made and to yearn for things that are yet to come.

You see these emotions are all part of the healing process and if I try to run away from them or bottle them up, I will never move on to the next step: Healing. I am learning to allow myself to reach that place of vulnerability, and see it as being brave not weak, so that I can comfort myself, pick myself up and take the next step.

I am allowing myself to relax and let go a little. I am letting myself breathe. I am beginning to understand my fears and doubts. Spending time with them and allowing them to be heard gives me insight into where my insecurities come from and this is important for me as my insecurities have become triggers in the past. Now I am learning to put them into perspective and face them.

When the darkness becomes too much, I write and write and write. With no real intention other than to let everything pour out of me. It brings me clarity and closure. When writing doesn’t work, and on occasion it hasn’t, then I ask for help. Yes folks, I am learning to reach out without apologizing for feeling! That dreaded sentence: “Gosh, I am so sorry for burdening you. I don’t now what’s wrong with me.” is officially gone.

But, I have to say, there is something merciful about sitting alone with my darkness. And there is such peace and beauty when the darkness lifts. 🙂

Phoenix

When Silence is Broken

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I see blogging people.

Last night I found out that my anonymous blog was not as anonymous as I thought. A friend of mine, who recently became a wordpress blogger, used the Find Friends tool and there was my blog’s name all bright and bold next to my public email address. Yes, my friend was shown my blog because we exchanged email addresses years ago. My friend, upon reading my About page and realizing I was not ready to go fully public, wanted to let me know about what seemed to be anonymity loophole.

I guess I should’ve known better when I started and used a new email account to register this blog. But what is done is done. I’m not going to make use of the privacy setting because I do want my blog to be a source of help for anyone who needs it. I can take the trouble to export the blog to a new username if I really want to.

But technical options are not what I want to talk about.

What do you do when social networking outs you before you’re ready?

My first reaction to my friend’s news was to feign nonchalance. “Oh yeah, no big deal really but thanks for telling me.”  I’ve known my friend for sometime and last night’s revelation would’ve only come from a place of kindness. I understood that at the time but less than an hour later I was sitting in my car outside of my favourite Chinese restaurant crying on the phone to my best friend.

Why was I crying? Because fear and judgment were skipping along hand in hand through my mind kicking up trails of self doubt and shame behind them. Even though I already knew better I could not stop thinking all those self defeating thoughts:

What will people say?

How many other friends on my emailing list, or facebook or twitter have found my blog this way?

Now everyone knows I’m broken. Damaged. Unworthy. An unattractive problem. 

I don’t want to be “That Girl!”

Yes, the pity party had started and even as I talked to my best friend I told her I knew better. I knew that I’ve been growing in leaps and bounds and I knew that I should be proud of myself for where I am at, but all I was feeling  was shame, doubt, fear and loneliness. It had taken a lot out of me to even call my best friend because I did not want to admit what I was feeling and that I needed to talk it out and have someone tell me what I already knew deep down inside:

You are not broken. You have nothing to be ashamed of.

What you are feeling right now is understandable. It’s okay to admit that you’re scared and upset. 

I am still proud of you.

(God I love my friend for saying that. If I hadn’t called, it would’ve taken me the better part of the weekend to get to the point of accepting my emotions, letting them go and treating myself gently again.)

Alcoholism has such a stigma attached to it as most people see it as only about self control when it isn’t.  I know I have to face the fact that one day more people will know about my recovery and it’s very likely that some people will not understand and I may be judged. I have to accept that sometimes I will feel embarrassed, fearful, misunderstood and alone. I have to understand that that’s okay and learn how to handle things with grace. I have to remind myself that it is not about what others think, it’s about what I think:

I know that I am doing the best thing I could have ever done for myself.

I know that I am doing a good job. Being in recovery is a good thing.

I know that I have every right to feel proud of where I am.

Phoenix.