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When I am presented with an emotionally taxing situation, my first instinct is to run away.
I try to process what I am feeling, but I tend to want to shut down. Sometimes, I just tune people out. I guess this is my fight, flight, or freeze response.
“The truth shall set you free,” my therapist tells me. She has said this to me before. I try to understand what she means, and most of the time I think I am listening to her. Some days her advice goes in one ear and out the other, though. I think I am internalizing her words, but more times than not, I forget what she says right after she says them.
I believe I do a pretty good job of telling the truth. I am nothing but honest when I am writing about my experiences and what I feel. When it is just me and my computer, I am the most vulnerable and truthful I can be. I am constantly telling stories about my past in order to make others feel less alone in their lives.
That is my goal when I write—to comfort others. I know it was such a huge help to me in the beginning of my sobriety—to read what other people went through before me. The road is often rough; nobody has it easy. There are bumps along the way for all of us, no matter what path we are on.
I realized something recently, though. I need to remember to comfort myself sometimes too. I am still hurting some days. I forget that my path still has rough terrain at times.
Not every day is filled with joy, and some days I feel a little clouded. I need to offer myself some grace. I need to lead with compassion, as my therapist says.
I know there are pieces of my past that I tend to hold onto—things that I can’t help but continue to be hurt by because I am still healing. The part of me that felt wounded and hurt for so long, the part that turned to alcohol for so many years, she is still healing.
The pain cannot be fixed in the flip of a switch.
There is a little girl inside of me who cries for help still. She has been there all along and she still requires quite a bit of love. This is the truth that I don’t always acknowledge to myself.
I used alcohol since I was a teenager. I turned to this drug day in and day out to help me cope. And I came from a family of secrets. During my childhood, I didn’t always feel the safety I believed was there.
In high school and college, when I was stressed or scared, I drank. At 18, when I found out my father was gay, I did what I did best and I ripped shots with my friends. When my parents got divorced and my mother found comfort in her things, I got lost inside the noise of an off campus keg party. When I became a mother and the pressure of having three babies under the age of four became too much, I did what every mom I knew seemed to do: I turned to my nightly glass of wine to escape.
Every single time I needed to avoid feeling, alcohol provided a break from reality. I could numb my mind. Pretend I wasn’t in pain.
For most of my life, I escaped this way. Now, I am learning to move through the hard stuff. This takes time. It takes compassion. It takes being kind to the girl inside me who is still struggling. It requires gentle, regular reminders.
I am safe now. It is not my fault.
I am no longer going to have to hide from the challenges ahead. I am no longer running anymore. I will not be derailed because of a few potholes. Instead, it is the bumpy trail that brought me here.
I am living my truth. And because of my sobriety, I shall be free.