"...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.