But you can’t get to any of these truths by sitting in a field smiling beatifically, avoiding your anger and damage and grief. Your anger and damage and grief are the way to the truth. We don’t have much truth to express unless we have gone into those rooms and closets and woods and abysses that we were told not go in to. When we have gone in and looked around for a long while, just breathing and finally taking it in – then we will be able to speak in our own voice and to stay in the present moment.
And that moment is home.
We all have things we don’t want to look at. Not looking at something might seem like a passive thing, and I suppose sometimes it is. Sometimes we have something in our lives that we’ve not examined because it simply has not occurred to us to do so. In those instances, it is usually because whatever the ‘thing’ is, it isn’t a big enough concern to be on our radar.
That isn’t me. I am a fairly reflective person by nature. I think about myself and others and human nature a LOT. Because I am wired that way, if I am not examining something in my life it is likely intentional. I tell you, friends, I can make not looking at something an active pursuit. Practically an aerobic activity. You could burn calories with the way I avoid looking at things I do not want to see.
There is a great episode of Doctor Who, the first episode in the eleventh series. Amy Pond, the Doctor’s new Companion, is living in her deceased aunt’s house. She’s alone, as her parents and aunt have all passed away. It’s too complicated to explain here, but in her house there is a huge crack in the wall.
This is not an “old house settling” sort of a crack. This is a monstrous crack. A portal to something evil. Amy does not see it. I’m deliberately not using the word can’t there. She is actively not looking. She instinctively knows it is something dark and dangerous, and the only way to go about her life with any sense of normalcy is to NOT SEE IT.
I am so exactly like Amy Pond. I mean, except for the being supermodel gorgeous, legs up to her chin, covet-worthy red hair, traveling through space and time with a Time Lord thingy.
I did it in my marriage. I was shocked when I found out the width and breadth of the deception that was going on, but somewhere- deep down- I knew something was off. I knew there was something dark lurking. I could not will myself to look at it, though. To look at it, to know, would be a tipping point. It would require upheaval and loss. It would require change on a major level.
I like change when I decide on it. I can be fairly brave and enthusiastic about that sort of change. When it is change against my will, though, I am as stubborn as a mule. Frankly, mules everywhere should be pissed off at that comparison. I’m willing to bet they are more reasonable than I, when it comes right down to it.
When I found out about my husband’s infidelity my biggest wish was to NOT KNOW. That is humiliating to think about, much less admit publicly. I kind of wasn’t surprised that he didn’t love me and hadn’t been faithful- I just desperately wanted to go back to not knowing, to hang onto my comfortable life.
In my attempt to stave off the pain of knowing the ugly truth, I began drinking quite a bit. I gave myself permission to drink quite a bit. I had been careful for a long time. I stopped being careful. After all, this terrible thing had happened. Being in the same house with him was excruciating, and when one is in pain one seeks anesthesia.
It became normal for me to go through a bottle of wine a night, by myself. And as the nights he came home became fewer and fewer, and I was awake, sick with worry, sometimes more.The thing about anesthesia, though, is it numbs you to EVERYTHING. Not just pain. Joy, too.
I’ve always had a tricky relationship with alcohol. I drank a lot in college. I mean, a lot of people drank a lot in college, but I think I always knew I was flirting with disaster. When I had my son, and got married, it settled down. I would still have the occasional social occasion that went sideways, when I would drink far too much, and not remember what happened- but I wrote it off as me not going out much, not being able to “handle” my alcohol the way other people seemingly could.
That’s true, actually. I can’t. I cannot handle my alcohol the way other people can.
That is the huge, menacing, dangerous crack in the wall I had been avoiding looking at for a few years now. Somewhere along the line, I stopped drinking in response to the terrible things that were happening and just started drinking a lot. Not every day. But my binges became closer together, and not just on social occasions.
People who love me had been concerned for a while. They tried to talk to me about it, but I was not ready. I wasn’t ready to look and to reach the point where I couldn’t un-know. I wasn’t ready for that change. I wasn’t ready to never have another glass of wine. Or champagne. I admit, it makes me really sad to think about that. I loved champagne.
I just love my life more and drinking had begun to really impact my ability to live that life the way I want, and to love my people the way I want. That crack that I, like Amy Pond, could only see out of the corner of my eye, was threatening to swallow me whole.
I talked to my cousin about it. I talked to my Favorite about it. I texted a friend who is in recovery. She told me not to be afraid.
I was. I was super afraid.
So I’ve stopped. I’m done. I am going to meetings. I walked into my first one almost five months ago, shaking. Terrified. I was immediately approached and enveloped by some really loving women. They hugged me and held my hands, literally. They told me how things work. That I just need to show up. That I didn’t need to share until I was ready. I was not ready.
They went around the room and introduced themselves.
When it came my turn, I looked at the woman next to me. She smiled and nodded encouragingly. I started crying. I could barely get the words out.
“Hi, my name is Laura. I’m an alcoholic.”
I cried for the rest of the meeting.
Then I went to another the next night. I’ve been going to meetings nearly every day for just about five months now. I almost never cry anymore. In fact, I laugh at pretty much every one. HARD. And I nod my head, a lot. And I hear wisdom, and I see grace. Those rooms are drenched in faith, and I am soaking it up. Those rooms are CHURCH.
I wrote the bulk of this post on the night I went to my first meeting, but a wise woman told me to put it in my pocket and get my legs under me before I published it. I’m glad I listened. I am doing great, I am happier than I have ever been in my life and stronger every day. It felt like time to say it. Not talking about it in this forum where I lay myself bare with alarming regularity has begun to feel like I’m lying- and I do not like that feeling.
So I am going to keep going, keep learning. I am going to continue to get on my knees, every single night and thank God for my sobriety. I’ll keep doing the next right thing. I’ll keep asking for help, which I still suck at- but I am getting so much better. Every day, a little better. A little more joyful. A little more healed.
And I am treating my issues like the TSA wants you to treat unattended bags. When I see something, I say something. I share my burdens, and then they are, of course, lighter.
And I’ll keep my eye squarely on that damned crack.
Love you all.
Didn’t think I could like you any more than I already do, but this post did it. So inspired by your strength, courage and honesty. Thank you.
Jessica Malionek @ thecounterstool.me says
Love you too, Laura. . XO
Gold Standard Test says
I love your honesty and grit, Laura.
And I needed that quote today; I was all set to call and cancel the intake appointment at a trauma center I’ve been putting off and putting off for months, hoping that coffee and kickboxing and constant business would wash away the dreams and flashbacks and the constant, inexplicable anxiety. Of course, I know better. I’m a doctor for Christ’s sake. But talking about those things scares the hell out of me, lays me low, fills me with shame and dread, makes me physically ill…
But I need to get to that moment of home, too. Thank you.
Karen Traa says
Thank you for having the courage to write this. When we bare our soul, it gives others permission to bare their soul, too. 🙂
Thank you for being willing to see the crack but remember in your recovery to talk to your children about seeing the cracks in their life as well.
Thank you for sharing this, Laura. I’m glad that you’re getting help and getting better, and again, glad that you’re sharing. You’re right – burdens are lighter when we share.
Absolutely awesome post, Laura! Thank you for sharing your story, and your experience in program. I am a recovering sugar addict, so I can relate to much of what you have said here. It might seem our conditions are different, but I see a lot of similarities in our stories. Good for you, for reaching out. It works, if you work it!
Meredith W. says
I see your blog but not a way to contact you. I would be interested in hearing more about you being a “recovering sugar addict.”
I look forward to all of your posts! Loved the honesty, and EXTRA loved the Doctor Who Reference. : )
I am so proud of you. Love you, so.
When I had my own classroom, I used to crown someone every day for acts of tenacity and effort and overall good learning behavior. Today, the crown goes to you. Thanks for being so brave. You have much to feel proud of in your life.
Heya, Monster. says
‘I just love my life more.’ YES.* p.s. We’re close to the same Days, I think. So happy to read your beautiful, difficult, honest story. So glad you’re here.
Meredith W. says
Brave, brave, brave. Yet another difficult conversation – a closet à la Ash Beckham.
Kelli Moore says
Your words slay me every single time. You are brave and you are strong. You will overcome. God’s got you. Thank you for sharing your soul. It makes a difference to so many.
I’ve seen that episode.
And I love Amy Pond, by the way — although you undersell yourself when you say you are not as beautiful with gorgeous hair. I’ve seen the pictures!
But okay, no timelord, got it.
But you do have courage, pluck, bravery, heart, strength.
Don’t ever doubt that.
Thank you for sharing this difficult part of your journey. I’m sure it was not easy. And congratulations for every second, minute, hour, day, month of continued sobriety. Addiction is a hard demon to fight.
Cis White says
You express your self so beautifully. Thank you for taking me into your journey and for the way you own it all. I kind of jealous that the people at your meeting get to hear you live, regularly. They are as lucky as you for that level of sharing, support and humanity. Go you!!!!!!!!!!!!