“It was a blessing. Even when it hurt at the end.”
Over the past two years, I am learning to be human again. I don’t fully understand addiction – the whys, the hows, the for what reasons? Is it a disease? Is it a choice? Does it stem from trauma? Is it genetic? Why are some people addicted and others not?
There are masters studying this very thought. I don’t consider myself to be a master. I am just a student.
The only truth I know about addiction is that it is painful. The best truth I know about sobriety is that it is miraculous. Even in the ins and the outs – the hard parts and the sad days, even in the downright disastrous experiences of life – sobriety is miraculous.
It is miraculous because I am not using a drug or a drink to change how I feel. I am not trying to reconstruct the wave. I am riding it.
I have moved from pain my whole life. Most of us have. We have been told to not cry, to be quiet, to sit still, to grin and bear it, to not be so sensitive, to smile for the camera - to fake it ‘til you make it.
My God, I hate that phrase right now – fake it ‘til you make it?
Is that really who we are?
No. We are vulnerable creatures – given a life of magic and love and hard experiences to help us grow into even better people.
We don’t need to fake anything.
I am tired of smiling pretty for the camera. I am tired of being pretty. I am tried of trying to be pretty. And I am tired of how much emphasis our society puts on falsehoods.
I am not here to be false anymore.
I am here to tell the truth.
This is why sobriety is miraculous. It is miraculous because I no longer base my happiness on social status, or the title of my career, or how much money I make, or who my friends are, or by the car I drive. I base my happiness on the type of person I am being right now.
Am I being kind, generous, helpful? Am I smiling at strangers? Am I supporting and encouraging others? Am I being the type of human that spreads LOVE instead of hate?
For years - No, scratch that - For my whole life, I was a creature of judgment. I remember being in fifth grade and craving popularity. I wanted to be popular so badly that I put myself through hell trying to get there. I had girls run away from me on the playground and into their sacred tiny corner on the field, where the cool people hung.
I wasn’t good enough.
I tried to straighten my hair and layer my socks. I tried to wear orange and purple to pretend I was a Phoenix Suns fan even though I could give two shits about basketball. I tried hard. I tried really, really hard.
And then when popularity came, I hated it. I hated pretending I was always happy and bubbly. I hated talking about Blossom and I hated playing Mall Madness with people I really didn’t like.
It felt mean to three-way call someone and pretend the other person wasn’t on the phone so they could hear just how much they were disliked by their said friend. It felt wrong.
So I tried to go against the crowd – I became a misfit. I wore flannel shirts and I worshipped Kurt Cobain and Nirvana. I smoked cigarettes and I dyed my hair green because Billy Joel Armstrong – hello?!
So this crazy thing happened, the minute I stopped trying to be popular – I became even more popular. The other kids started dying their hair green and I was sent to the principals’ office and all I could say was: “my mother told me I could do it.” And she did, she really did.
I guess I could have learned my lesson then. People like you when you step away from the crowd, when you stop trying to fit in, and when you work on finding out who you really are.
But, I didn’t learn my lesson. And I wasn’t that nice.
Or that cool.
I remember I wrote a letter badgering a few girls in school. Like, a really mean letter – I wrote awful things about one of my favorite teachers – all in the name of harm. The letter somehow made its way to the principals’ office. And guess what? I blamed it on another girl. And she took the rap. And the consequences.
That was the name of the game. Blame.
In my addiction, I became quite the expert at blame. I took no responsibility for anything. I manipulated every situation so I could look like the less guilty party.
And I had learned how to do that my whole life.
Moving from pain is a learned behavior. Moving from our experiences and being less than who we are really meant to be is part of growing up. Fear is inevitable. It is how we deal with that fear that moves us forward.
For example, when I wrote my “about” page for this website. I shared one of my biggest secrets – something that I openly share in my recovery circle, but I often don’t share in the real world. The secret is that without medication, I can hear voices and get paranoid. This is a consequence of my addiction. This is a consequence of snorting Adderall and other amphetamines, and not listening to the people who loved me most when they said it was changing me.
Yes. There are consequences for our behavior.
I spent many years in debilitating fear. In paranoia. In situations where my own mind failed me, over and over and over again.
Do you know how embarrassing it used to be to admit this? It is still slightly embarrassing. But, one of the greatest lessons I learned in my sobriety is that my own experience can help another person. I can share my hard yucky ucks and how I overcame them, and another person might just say: “hey, maybe I can overcome my own hard yucky ucks.”
That is the hope sobriety gives us. This is the miracle of recovery.
My point about sharing this “secret” was that I started second guessing myself. I started to think of all the what if scenarios? What if someone reads this about me and wants nothing to do with me? What if it harms my career? And the biggest one, what if someone tries to use this against me when I truth-tell?
I spent several hours in fear last night. Wondering if I should take this “secret” down. Because once it’s published, it won’t go away. It will be out there. For people to misuse, or judge, or characterize, or question. My truth will be out there.
And then today, I thought, who fucking cares?! Who cares?!
That is my truth. And if I am going to preach about honesty and truth-telling then I might as well have a little integrity, and be honest and truth-tell.
Listen, I am always going to be judged. We are all going to be judged. But, the purpose of this website is far greater than my own fears about being judged.
The purpose of this site is to free you and heal you. It is to give you hope.
The purpose of this site is for me to stand up, be a warrior, and a truth-teller, and say this is me. I have nothing to hide. Here I am. I know my truth. I can be vulnerable. I can be real. I can be honest. I don’t have to smile for the camera if I don’t feel like smiling. And I certainly don’t have to fake anything.
I can be authentic.
I can be the me I was always meant to become.
And this me, is kind, and selfish, and lovely, and beautiful, and moving. This me can be wrong. This me can take responsibility. This me can say I am sorry and mean it. This me “can sit with pain – mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade, or fix it.”
This me is imperfectly perfect.
This me is me.
What we do in love is never lost in light.
1. except from the poem The Invitation by Oriah Mountain Dreamer.
NOTE: I don't know the format for giving proper credit to those who inspire these words, but I wanted to mention a few additional resources that have helped me grow and evolve and become the woman I am today.
My favorite truth-tellers and Co-Hosts of my favorite Podcast: HOME
Holly Glenn Whitaker, Founder of Hip Sobriety
Laura McKowen, Writer and Teacher
* The subject of truth-telling was brought up in Ep38 with Augusten Burroughs.
You can listen here:
The ability to even make this blog was gifted by Holly: How to Start a Recovery Blog
Below are a few more female warriors. They inspired me to do the hard work, follow your heart, and write:
1. Holistic Recovery Coach & Writer: Sasha Tozzi
2. Artist, Creator & Writer: Tammi Salas of Small Town Goods
3. Angel and Founder of The Suburban Monk: Ellen Atkins
Syd is my man.