"...In the end, people either have excuses or experiences; reasons or results; buts or
brilliance. They either have what they wanted or they have a detailed list of all the rational reasons why not."

~ Anonymous
(taken from Matt Erbele's, It Takes Time to Get Good)

Thursday, May 3, 2012

It is ok, you can stop digging now.

There is a saying, "It is not rock bottom until you stop digging."


I have not kept it a secret that the events of the last couple of years have taken their toll on my emotional well being. I have, however, had a somewhat secret hell that I have created and lived in as a response.

I have been avoiding looking at some aspects of me for a very long time. When I got clean, I did some work on how to become a productive member of society, but when it came to looking at the core of me I was too scared of what I might find to continue. I believe that I continued to stay clean by changing addictions. I addictively worked, pursued college degrees, accumulated pets, and more recently completed running events. All of these things are good in and of themselves and can be very positive activities, but I used them to avoid feeling anything I did not want to and to never have to look at myself and who I was. As long as my life was running smoothly, I found that was a fine technique, but as soon as my life started to have some bumps (and in fairness to me, I had A LOT of fucking bumps all in a row) I found that I was ill equipped to deal with them.

Sometimes people are surprised by how almost embarrassingly honest I can be at times about things. It is because I have to be. You see, at my core, I am a fucking liar. It is almost as if it is encoded in my DNA.

My first response and first thought is almost always a lie. Twenty one years ago, when I got clean, I learned that I cannot trust my own mind. It will lead me to a place where I cannot stand to be in my own skin and then I will turn on myself.

For the majority of my time clean I have been almost brutally honest about my actions and motives, not out of virtue, rather out of self preservation, but I have never been truly honest about my feelings, because I did not know what they were. I avoided them. So my lying changed, but did not go away. I did not even realize it because it was as subtle as, "No, I am fine.", "It is ok. I will take care of it.", or "I don't mind."

As my life got more difficult, it became more apparent that these were not true. I was not fine. It was not ok for me to do it all. I did mind.

When some of the really scary, hard emotional stuff passed, I was suddenly struck with the thought of "What about me? Don't I deserve...." I did not tell anyone what I was feeling. And later I did not tell anyone what I was doing.

Lies of omission are the most insidious. I feel almost sanctimonious about them, often telling myself, 'If I am directly asked, I will not lie." What a crock of shit.

Without going into too much detail, I took myself to that place where I cannot stand to be in my own skin again. The lies of omission quietly ate at me, while in my denial, I had justified all sorts of behavior. So after years of keeping some of my demons at bay, I went down in a self destructive spiral that included a few scary behaviors I have not engaged in for over 14 years, some NEW scary self destructive behaviors, and a series of shockingly poor decisions.

This March 31 was the anniversary of me getting clean. I had been clean for 21 years, yet I was in full blown emotional and behavioral relapse. I was at my lowest emotional point of my life, but somehow I did not drink alcohol or use drugs. People were congratulating me on my 21 years of recovery and I felt like a fraud. I was clean, but I was NOT in recovery.

Fortunately or unfortunately, lies tend to be like a parasitic fungus in me and, once started, they grow uncontrollably until they ultimately burst from inside.

 The white spikes are the parasitic fungus that killed this moth.

For all to see.

Super. I might as well have had fucking t-shirts made celebrating my shame.

So now the clean up begins.

I have had to look at the cost of my behavior to others and have brutally honest conversations about my lack of understanding of my own motivations and needs. It is time to be really honest about who and what I am. I know one thing I am, scared.

At least I stopped digging. 




25 comments:

Jenny Davidson said...

Good luck getting things back into the right train - it's hard, I know...

pensive pumpkin said...

hang in there, you are stronger than you think.

Christi said...

This will be difficult but I know you can do this. I have been in a similar position most of my life and have been trying to understand who I am as well and I hide because of fear.

Let's not let this fear drive us anymore!

I am here for ya if you need anything!

Stephanie Bachman said...

Don't shortchange your accomplishment of 21 years clean.

The other stuff, well I don't pretend to know what you are going through, but in addition to whatever therapy you deem necessary, maybe consider a good yoga class? A friend turned me on to it (and I HATE yoga), but the meditative, kum-ba-ya aspect of the "hot flow" was really really really good for me.

Best wishes.

Philip Tucker said...

This sounds like a pivotal moment. Kudos on the brutal honesty, on the desire to continue improving in invisible and profound ways, and the ability to hold onto 21 one years of being clean despite what sounds like extreme provocation. Hang in there. We're all capable of surprising ourselves.

bobbi said...

here's hoping that this all means things are swinging in the "up" direction...take care of you...

MJ said...

I salute your brutal honesty, your courage, and your choice to pick yourself up and try again. Every moment, every breath lets you (and forces you) to choose anew, over and over. I wish you strength, self-compassion, and people who will hold you tight when you need it and call BS when you need it. My best wishes to you....

Deb said...

Hang in there.

billthemarmet said...

I have found that a good 4th/5th step...not a novel! works wonders with the self-honesty. I never realized how much a of a victim roll I played in life, until I really looked at what I truly believed about myself and the world. And got clear on how delusional and destructive those beliefs were. Found a lot of arrogance, entitlement, shame and perfectionism too. It was time for me to lose the good guy mask, the reputation I conditioned myself to use as a coping mechanism. It still sneaks up on me. For me it was find the belief(delusion) and the fear will show itself. Delusions are difficult because they are lies I believe, or am not consciously aware that I am telling them to myself. My behavior was fueled by these subconscious beliefs, and these beliefs need to validate their existence. This would cause more unhealthy behavior which caused more fear. Fucked up vicious circle. I had to be willing to search out those lies, and admit I really thought that hateful shit. I had to be willing to find out what roll I was playing in the world --> victim and God.

Carolina John said...

I have full confidence that you can get the ship pointed in the right direction. Please don't hesitate to email or call me if you want some advice or language. I'm always here to help.

Ewa said...

What a brave and honest person you are. I wish I had some of those qualities... for now, I think I am still digging.
Hope your cleanup goes well.

SteveQ said...

When we stopped hearing from you, I suspected things were not going well. It's common, when cleaning up one's life, to think one's doing well because one's getting by; addicts almost always hold on to some self-destructive habits, for reasons that are hard to explain even to themselves. You've recognized the problems ARE problems - now go get someone to help, as you haven't been able to do it on your own thus far. Best of luck... and feel free to tell us as much or as little as you need to.

Lisa said...

Way to put it out there.

I have my own demons to battle, and when times are tough, new demons seem to join in. From that perspective I have some understanding.

You can do this.

Kate said...

I don't have any good words of wisdom, but I'm thinking of you. And caring, weird as that whole caring-about-some-internet-person-you've-never-met thing is.

Wishing you all the best and the strength you need to get there.

Lindy said...

Your courage and willingness to face the deep down scary stuff are amazing. Maybe you don't feel amazing right now, but you are.

IronSnoopy said...

It's OK to be scared. It's OK to have your own emotions and thoughts and even your own reactions to the shitstorm of life-altering blows that have hit you the past couple of years. And I urge you to not be so terrified of you (the real you) and cut you some slack. None of us are prepared for the shitstorm, and I'd wager none of us are prepared for our reactions. (Our real reactions, not the ones we show the world.)

You're a wonderful person, RBR. Love yourself, secrets and all, as much as others do. You're so worth it.

And, yes, I'll take a t-shirt. Medium. :-) (((hugs)))

Diana said...

You wouldn't be human if you weren't scared. I wish you all the strength you need to deal with you need to deal with.
Your blog posts over the years have made me both laugh and cry. I wish only the best for you and hope that your road becomes easier to travel. Know that at any time I'm here if you need anything.....

Willie said...

If it matters at all I miss you. Also in the "if it matters" category is my never ending admiration for you and your strength.
So go get right with those demons. We fucking need you! Oh sorry, does laying on guilt help at all? Probably not, huh? Um, so, yeah, um, there there. Helping yet?

K said...

Holy Shit. I have been battling witn my own crap behaviors these days too. Running, college-degree-ing, quilting, blah blahing all used to cover what's going on inside for me. Thanks for sharing your hardship. Good to know that there are a lot of us out htere.

Calyx Meredith said...

Clean is a process not an endpoint - and YOU ARE AWESOME (!!), brave, resilient, real and - did I mention brave? Thanks for your post. As Wynona says "When you hit rock bottom there are two ways to go - straight up and sideways." Hope you're finding what you need to go straight up. You and your nice hubby are in our thoughts. Peace.

under my own steam said...

Your strength is evident! Keep breathing. Thank you for sharing your journey.

Unknown said...

Just a quick note to let you know I'm thinking of you often. You're in my prayers...

Jill said...

I've been thinking about you a lot over the summer and fully "get" what you're saying. Hope the summer has brought you some strength to figure a few things out. And hope you got in a few great runs :).

Lindy said...

Miss you, hope you're doing ok.

Summer Young said...

I, too, am a liar when it comes to how I feel or what I want to do. Always the people pleaser I struggle with actually saying how I feel. This has went on for my entire life and now at 36 years I find myself at a crossroads, or breakdown, depending on how you look at it. I realize that I can no longer allow myself to be used and abused by those who only think about themselves. It may sound selfish to some but "what about me?" is now my driving force.

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