I have always considered myself to be an honest person. I abhor liars. But the further I travel down the sober path, I realize that I have lied constantly – daily – for decades – to the person closest to me: myself. I have no idea who I am. That is the truth. I have shape shifted for so long. I am the ultimate chameleon. Alcohol and all the stories and identities I created with it not only allowed, but demanded this rigorous dishonesty. Without it, I would have had to deal with the truth of the situation long ago. That truth was the knowledge deep within my soul that alcohol had absolutely no place in my life and never, ever, in a million, billion years should have been allowed in. My drinking habit was the ultimate dishonesty to my soul.
I knew from the very first drink – even before – that I was playing with fire. I witnessed the wreckage in my family all over the place. Helplessly I watched my handsome, intelligent, personable dad destroy his entire life because he could not put the drink down. He is now essentially skid row with wet-brain syndrome. Beyond sad. Words cannot even begin to express how deeply this hurts. My family of origin was decimated because of alcohol. There were many other up close examples of the despair alcohol could deliver in my family. I had first hand, painful, inside information that this stuff was not to be played with. Even my physical body violently rejected the stuff via vomiting every single time I ingested the stuff for the first several years of my drinking career. I ignored every warning signal whether it was physical, emotional, or spiritual and forged ahead anyway. I told myself all kinds of lies so that I could continue this soul-killing, destructive habit.
And throughout my entire life I have become whoever you needed me to be as long as I could continue to check out with abandon… Super employee? No problem. Church pastor? Done. Party girl who never wants the night to end? Got it covered. Overachieving degree accumulator? Got it. Pot smoking hippie? Pass the bong. Long distance runner? Lets do some hill repeats. Potty mouth gossiper? Fuck yeah. The problem is that I am 46 years old and I have no idea who I honestly am. Take away the alcohol and all of these personas no longer fit… Because they were all created out of dishonesty.
Without alcohol here are some observations: I really do not enjoy parties with tons of people. I tend to hide. I can do an hour, maybe two and then I am done. No authentic conversation happens at big gatherings as far as I can tell. It is all surface stuff and small talk. I am not good at that. I hate running – it stresses me out and hurts my hips and knees. My dog and I prefer a long, ambling walk. Pot makes me paranoid. Gossiping makes me sad. Swearing makes me uncreative. Killing myself for work accolades makes no sense – I want to know my family at the end of the day. I don’t want to give my very best to other people’s kids and come home to my own completely depleted.
Getting sober for me, has been like taking a truth serum. The old stories and identities no longer hold up. Who is this woman? What does she dream of doing with her life? What was she created to contribute to the world? I have spent so much time numbing out, checking out, and being who I thought you wanted me to be – it is going to take some time to get to know her and figure this all out. Seems like a daunting task and I feel foolish for denying the truth of whoever I am, hiding her in a bucket of wine. Frankly, it is embarrassing to be at this stage of life and have so little idea of who I actually am. Sad really, but worth the work to live the life I was meant to live and be the woman I actually am. I am grieving time lost. Honestly, this honesty thing is a bitch…