on shame.

I am here and not here at the same time. I read blogs every day, but I haven’t been writing much. I am in a phase of just wanting the days to pass by, to build up more sober time… in order to get somewhere? I’m not sure. Just to feel more secure or something. I can’t explain the feeling.

I have had many more sober days in 2016 than not. Truth is that I’ve only had a handful or two of drinking days since January. After my last post, I drank on a weekend when I was visiting my family. I didn’t “set myself up” to be sober, instead I took it for granted and in doing so I compromised myself. My family maybe had 2-3 drinks over the course of a mellow evening- dinner and playing a board game. I had no fewer than 7 drinks. Of course I felt horrible.

It’s just kind of boring now, I suppose that’s why I don’t write about it. I will keep repeating the same mistake until I learn the lessons I should: I can’t drink like a normal person; I can’t moderate my alcohol intake; I have an addiction to alcohol and I need to treat it.

Anyways, I think I’m done now. While on the topic on counting: today marks 52 straight days. I had about 45 before I drank last time. And 3 weeks before that, and 3 weeks before that, and on and on. I do feel that I am getting somewhere, again. Last year I had nearly 11 months sober and I felt so good! I’ve been struggling to get there again, but slowly and surely I think I am.

I turn 40 in a month’s time and this is a catalyst for me to get sober. I gave so many years to alcohol and I want to enter into this chapter in life sober and healthy. Just as I didn’t want to go into my 30’s smoking, I don’t want to go into my 40’s drinking. I want to live with vitality and lucidity, things I don’t feel when I’m drinking.

I’ve been doing lots of reading still about recovery lately. Right now I’m reading The Naked Mind (Annie Grace) and also Integral Recovery (John Dupuy). It is fascinating to me how many books and perspectives there are on the subject of addiction and recovery. I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts (Since Right Now and HOME being my favourites). I’ve joined some online groups and I will be attending a yoga and recovery retreat in June. In a way I feel like recovery and sobriety are becoming all-consuming. Not that this is a bad thing, I just didn’t expect it. I’ve tended to compartmentalize things in my life, and I’m not sure this is working for me anymore. Part of me has wanted to keep sobriety in this tidy little box that I can visit once in a while but put out of sight when needed. Kind of like how I kept my problematic drinking secret for the most part.

Shame kept my drinking hidden in a corner and I feel like it’s this same shame that keeps my sobriety out of sight as well. I’m starting to question this a lot. It’s different for everyone but I’m not sure I can stay sober if I am secret about it. It’s starting to feel inauthentic when I’m in a process of becoming more honest with myself about the cost and causes of addiction in my life. I’m tired of keeping things in tidy little boxes, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to do so.

I hate feeling separate from other people, but in reality not talking about my addiction and recovery creates even more of a chasm. Last year I told a lot of half-truths while sober. And while I don’t think I need to bare my soul to everyone I meet, I feel like I’m cheating myself by not being more honest with my loved ones. I’m cheating myself of building more support and connection. Of genuine relationships. I’ve thought that by lying about my recovery I’ve been protecting myself (from judgment? embarrassment?) and protecting others (from feeling awkward around me or worried about me), and I’m now starting to see how I’ve been doing a disservice to myself. I’m shutting people out because I don’t want to tell them. And it’s shame based.

I would never tell someone who came to me for support that they should be ashamed by an addiction or their quest to get sober. Indeed, I would tell them precisely the opposite- how brave they are for coming forward, how proud I am of them for taking steps towards wellness. But I can’t seem to offer myself the same advice.

This is my next big goal in sobriety: to come out. It feels like the next step I need to take, the one that has been holding me back. I’m ready to face and shed the shame.  I’ve already started to be more honest with some of my friends- and it’s been so positive for the most part. I’ve had offers of support, people saying they won’t drink around me if it would help, and it just feels so freeing to be honest. My family is the hardest for me to tell, they are the ones I have the most shame around. I guess because I have hidden my addiction so much around them. And created a facade of someone who has it all together.

But no one has it all together. And I am tired of pretending. Wish me luck 🙂