For a long time I remember I would wonder to myself how it was possible that people could wake up every day and feel good, naturally. It seemed to me that people walked around with a pretty solid sense of what they were doing, a plan to go about achieving that and enough contentment about their purpose to have room for laughter, creative thinking and pursuing hobbies. Of course, all of this I gathered from what was displayed on social media and how I imagined people to feel based on how they looked, to me, as they carried about their day. None of my sentiment about society was coming from any real sense of knowing how people actually generally felt inside, because that would have meant I had conversations with others that were vulnerable, honest and deep. I was not capable of much honesty until I was into my 30’s, so many of things I held to be true were only true for me because I imagined them, because they were carried on the back of what I was told as a child and because of my perception of my experiences.
What I did not know, because I was too holed up hiding all of my insecurities, is that most, some might say all, people experience doubt and question their value during points in their life. It seems to be a part of the human condition. Once I was, however, turned on to this fact, and could move away from a place where I felt alone in my feelings, the real work started of going about unlearning what I had accepted about myself to be “true” and rewiring my belief system to align with the universal truth. Problem was, I had spent so much time trying to shut my thoughts off, distracting myself, numbing myself, and filling my schedule so the quiet could never reach me, that I didn’t even know what exactly is was that I was believing about myself in the first place. That would be a painful introspection. And those answers didn’t come all once.
I realized, as I finally became willing to slow down and listen, that I had been told certain things, as a child and a teen, sometimes by parents, friends, other family, teachers and school peers that I had trained myself to run from or prove wrong for decades. From a logic standpoint, it’s impossible for everything that is said by anyone to be true, because truth can vary from person to person based on experience, preference, values, etc. As a young child, though, an innocent and blank slate, born into a traumatic environment of alcoholism and abuse – I sought refuge in anyone or anything that could steer me out of the climate that I had to consider “home”. In my mind, anyone else had a better answer or direction than I did, and since being a compliant and good little girl kept some chaos at bay in my homelife, whatever you told me I would accept as the Bible truth.
I was told I was smarter than most kids, sent to GATE programming and the word “potential” still stings in my ears – these burned in me that I had to excel and always be the best. Raped before I could give consent to my first sexual experience, and teased often for my “underdeveloped” body conveyed that I was unworthy of respect, and physical value just as I was. Punished for expressing my feelings and showing emotion trained me to feel safer when I suppressed those sensations. You might guess it, I was a fertile breeding site for eating disorders and addiction. Which is just where I found most of my life’s purpose through my 20’s, until, as the title suggested, I nearly lost my life.
I remember getting fired by my therapist and wondering if she would mention that my breath always smelled like wine. I remember the day I first went to treatment being so physically weak that I couldn’t walk. I remember telling the intake coordinator that my diet solely consisted of chardonnay and not considering that I was an alcoholic. I remember drinking, binging and purging over and over and over all day long, every single day for years and never having the thought cross my mind that I should ask for help. I also don’t remember a lot of things, malnourishment and intoxication tends to have that effect.
And most of this was because I was and will always be an alcoholic with an eating disorder in recovery. Recovery looks different every single day – but I can find solace in that since I work a program only one day at a time. I hear the thoughts that I “should be” further along in my recovery with food and alcohol, but the truth is that eating enough and refraining from emotional eating is difficult to abstain from and there are (very infrequent) times when I do wish that I could enjoy a glass of wine without knowing I would end up in custody within a day or two. Lack of acceptance is my dilemma, solidifying evidence that I have the “disease”.
Even in recovery though, I am know in awareness of these limiting beliefs about who I “should be”, my value as a human and what it means to have a normal human experience. Currently, I have my dream career, an unbelievable partnership, and plenty of money for travel and fun. My body is in the best shape it’s ever been – and I’m even trying to gain a few pounds to prevent injury and wear and tear with all the activities I do. And – my head tells me I’m not enough for all of it. That either these blessings aren’t real, aren’t going to last, or my unworthiness will let them fade away sort of like Darwin’s finches on Galapagos Island by way of natural selection. My head says I have to be harder on myself than I’ve ever been because eventually – all of this that wasn’t meant for me because I don’t deserve respect and am always living below my potential – it’s going to catch up to me. It’s a miserable prison of self inflicted terror and the fucking agonizing part is – that I KNOW, none of it, none of the bullshit I am a slave to believing, is real. None of it.
So I do what I do? Fuck. Well, yes, I do that, but I wrote that because it’s the question I wish I knew the answer to. I don’t completely know – if I had all the answers I would be “fixed” and “perfect” and there would be no searching, no journey. No point of any of this. I am trying it all, things I have done before and gave up on, things I have been doing, new things I have been unwilling to try before, whatever is in front me. The only thing I refuse to try is to give up altogether. I almost gave up. But it seems that my God had different plans for me. And this time, I’m gripping just the slightest bit less to the fears that are keeping me from the peace and freedom in store for me at the other side of this surrender.
Tools I use – get a dog, get a tattoo, buy myself gifts, budget my spending, pick up work, let go of overworking, singing, dancing, cooking, letting someone cook for me, going to meetings, not going to meetings, trying new meetings, reaching out to people I haven’t talked to in a while, actually answering the phone when someone calls, texting someone to ask about their day, being honest when someone asks about mine, napping, yoga, taking a lot of baths, drinking delicious coffee in the morning, not drinking too much caffeine late in the day, writing, reading, meditation, vitamins, doing something I am good at, trying something I’ve never done before, traveling, enjoying quiet time at home and as I mentioned earlier, sex 🙂
Happy recovering. Or living. We’re all in the same boat, I just think our boats have different looking course paths toward the same destination.
In love and light,