Recently, I took a major risk and wrote about how my issues with addiction are directly linked to a traumatic event in my past. Everyone has been amazingly supportive, and for that I want to say thank you.
Living through an emotionally and physically traumatic event affected me in ways I still don’t quite understand. It wasn’t just that four people I knew physically attacked me in my own bedroom — the emotional pain is my problem. The multiple levels of betrayal, the shame of being involved with something so appalling, and the grief that comes from a terrible breakup all rolled into one big ball of horrible feelings that I didn’t know how to deal with.
Because I was living in a Conservative Christian bubble, I first tried praying it away. I tried ignoring it. I tried throwing myself into religion, and when that didn’t work, I threw myself into the world.
Even though what happened to me wasn’t my fault, there is a big part of me that still wonders if I somehow deserved it — mostly because I chose to ignore major red flags during the course of my relationship with the boy. I wanted to fit in with his family. I wanted them to like me, and they did, at first. I was a sweet, friendly, smart girl — unassuming, eager to please, nonjudgmental, and mostly, I loved the boy.
They liked me, but they underestimated me.
Sometimes, really stupid people mistake kindness for weakness. They think that because I smile a lot, I’m easily manipulated, but actually I am just too polite to speak up and say, “Hey asshole, I know what you’re doing.”
Rather than be rude, I nod and smile. Or, I used to.
The boy’s family eventually realized that I have limits to how far I’ll allow other people to push me. Even at 18 and 19 years old, no one was going to dictate my life, and I encouraged the boy to do the same. My encouragement of his independence is what sealed my fate, and the rest is what I’m dealing with in therapy.
The point of sharing my story is this: my past trauma infects every relationship in my life. I have walls up in my marriage that I didn’t even realize were there. I freak out over stupid things my kids say or do because it reminds me of people who hurt me in the past. I don’t trust ANYONE. I am terrified of people turning on me. And while I have a ton of friends and acquaintances in my life that I could call for anything, I almost never do; vulnerability scares the shit out of me.
I have a guilt complex. My self worth is nonexistent. People call me courageous, but I’m not. I’m terrified. Being sober scares me, the truth scares me, and thinking about the future and the unknown paralyzes me with fear. Things I cannot control are what scare me the most, and guess what? LIFE IS BEYOND MY CONTROL.
So I stay afraid, unless I practice the things that have kept me sober for the past 6 months. I go to exercise classes, even when I don’t feel like it. I cut out junk and eat more protein. I sleep a lot. I meditate. Today, I went to yoga and breathed a lot of deep breaths and then I cried, because that’s what happens when people sober up. They yoga and they cry.
I’m putting one foot in front of the other, and re-learning how to take care of myself. I’ve accepted that I’ll be in therapy for probably a very long time, and I continue to mourn the loss of alcohol because dealing with feelings is a real drag.
People keep telling me I’m worth it. Maybe one day, I’ll actually believe them. Until then, I’ll just keep writing.
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Being sober sucks! I’m 8 months and 7 days in and it’s hard to face feelings…just remember, one day at a time.
Sorry, I meant some days being sober sucks because it’s so hard. 🤔
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Oh sweetie! Haven’t you heard what they say about courage and bravery? It isn’t a lack of fear, it’s the willingness to do what needs to be done while being afraid. You ARE courageous, brave, and strong because, even though you are afraid, you are staying sober. You are dealing with your feelings instead of hiding from them. Keep your chin up and you can do anything.
Yeah, I don’t have any addictions (unless you count sloth and junk food), but I definitely agree that feeling your feelings sucks sometimes. You are being very brave by moving forward in spite of your fear. Very definition of courage, right there. 😉
I find reading Brene Brown very helpful.
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LOVE ME SOME BRENE BROWN.
I really extra-specially love this post. Keep on yogaing and keep on writing. Because we’ll keep on reading. ❤️
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Anger is a wonderful emotion that is useful for not feeling other negative emotions. For me it always seemed to block ANXIETY (fear), sadness, embarrassment, boredom, lonliness, fear, exasperation and fear. Also works for fear, by the way. Anger + opiates/benzoyl work even better, synergistically even. Until you run out of the drugs which produces fear that is hard even for anger to handle. Feeling strong emotions, good or bad, sucks until you get the balance they talk about. It gets better the farther away from your sobriety date you are, but the shit can always hit the fan. I pray we are ready when it does.
Benzos, stupid spell checker
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