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 🙂

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21 thoughts on “on shame.

  1. It’s so nice to hear from you again. It sounds like you’ve got a lot of excellent plans in place to foster and edify your health.

    With respect to the ennui that you describe here, I wonder if you’ve read much about the condition of anhedonia in recovery. I found it helpful to be aware of its effects in early/mid sobriety stages. The feeling of being somewhat down is considerably more bearable when there is awareness of its underlying cause, and a knowledge that it is temporary.

    Thanks for your update.

    • Hey John, thanks for stopping by. I think I’ve actually had anhedonia on and off for most of my adulthood :-/
      But yes, probably have it now and hopefully it’s just temporary.
      I think I’m trying to “catch up” to where I was last year in sobriety so I just want the days to go faster. But that’s a bit silly isn’t it?
      I should enjoy where I am right now and still learn and grow. I’m going to write more, I like it better when I do.

  2. It is freeing to be yourself. You are brave and strong and human. You deserve support.
    Are you going to salt spring? I went last summer. It was wonderful…

    I understand that feeling of loneliness, of being apart. As you become more comfortable in your own skin, and more ok with how things are and were, that will go away.

    Hugs. You are on the right path.

    • Thanks for your support, Anne. I know I’m on the right path, but it can be hard sometimes.
      Yes, I am going to Saltspring! On that note, I met someone you know the other day. Dawn set us up to meet.
      Hope you’re doing okay being away from home. sending love your way.

  3. So lovely to see you back writing again.
    This post is rich with understanding and help for others….sharing your experience this openly is wonderful.

    and that shame thing…UGH! I’m sure everyone can relate…but the shame is not who we are and neither is the alcohol. Not compartmentalizing means, for me, to just accept the fact, fully, that I can’t drink, that it does me no good and that life is better without it. The longer I stayed sober the more open I became…it happened naturally. But it was helpful to have others who knew, because accountability in my life is important. Sounds like you’re starting to open up and that’s great.

    anyway..keep writing. I’m so glad you are feeling good about this.

    • Hey Mish, thanks for that reminder- shame is not who we are. I will remember that. I don’t need to feel shame and I think the only way not to is to be open and accepting and loving.
      I need to let more people in. I am going to write more too- it feels good!
      Hope you’re well xo

  4. Good luck as u continue forward. I am 40 next month too and I think this transition to a new decade is unsettling, exciting and full of potential. Best of luck. X

  5. So glad to hear from you. Sounds like you’re stepping into the light. I don’t shout about my sobriety but it’s no secret either. Talking about it was like shedding layers of winter clothes and turning my face to the sun. You are definitely on the right path. Be kind to yourself.
    Sharon

    • I love this Sharon: turning my face to the sun, stepping into the light… yes. That is helping me frame it positively! Love it. Thank you for your support. Hope you are well!

  6. I experience(d) the same with the not opening up and the hiding while part of getting sober is for me to become clear in my being and communication. I decided to tell the people closest to me that I got into trouble with drinking. I did so slowly, one by one over a period of a year I think, when it felt appropriate. I have taken the time to do it because I felt my sobriety also depended on how secure I felt and people reacting strange or overcaring would/could have thrown me of my path. So I made sure to only speak with people when I was grounded and secure.
    I found these vids, they are on the subject of shame. I found them very informative. Reading his book now. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL7D_KDsy196GyRhgq7hdxHA1vkXGvlOWw
    Wishing you security in your decissions, there is no rush, sobriety first. 🙂
    xx, Feeling

  7. Luck! Yes, I would say you are getting to the point where you are ready to say good-bye to drinking. You’ve taken your last nostalgic trips back and they have reminded you of why you left in the first place.
    A better way is waiting for you, the door is open and you know what is on the other side, all you have to do is step through and close the door behind you. For me, once I finally made that decision, it was that easy-I ran out that door.

  8. I think the key is treating yourself the way you would if a friend reached out, it sounds like that is a realisation for you and it is so true. Hard to do all the time but being compassionate with ourselves is something we need to learn. I feel your pain of the on again off again and I am so impressed with how far you are right now. From day 3 your achievement is massive. Give yourself some credit and keep listening to what is bubbling up inside you. I linked to you through KaryMay’s blog and I always value her truth and comments and I agree with what she has said above, it sounds like you are closing down some old chapters ready for a new story. I wish you well.

    • Thank you so much! Yes to self-compassion. SOOO important. Have been learning about it through some buddhist work as well. It heals us. That is the counter to shame- compassion.
      Thanks for coming by!

  9. Hello x. I DO wish you luck. I’ve also been thinking a lot about honesty recently. In fact, I posted earlier this evening about it. I don’t have any advice to give because I feel like I’m only just setting out, walking away from pretence myself. So, just to say you’re not alone – far from it – and we can do it. Love to you x.

  10. Dear CL,
    I found it very freeing to tell people that I drank too much and are quitting.
    I found such great support.
    I did be sure I told safe people, people I trusted.
    You have nothing to be ashamed about.
    We addicts are humans and all humans make mistakes, are anything but perfect.
    xo
    Wendy

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