Update: TRIGGER WARNING.
For intro into this blog post, please see this IG post.
So, yesterday was a special day for me, and as I’ve discussed before –at least I’ve personally experienced this, and have a hunch I’m not alone – when we recovery folx hit milestones, they’re celebrated and embraced by other members of our own circles (whether they are home groups, friends we’ve made IRL because our paths led us to them, or the vastly expansive framily that is this IG sobriety + recovery commUNITY), and let’s be honest – the confirmed validation and praise we receive from those kind souls is uplifting and can help us feel more at peace with the choices we’ve chosen to make (sobriety and recovery), they make us feel comfortable, welcome and most importantly: seen, heard and understood. Which is huge. I don’t know about you guys, but one of the things I’m most thankful for, is that my recovery began and is unfolding during a time where social media is heavily prevalent, and we can connect with similar souls all across the goddamned world.
It terrifies me a wee bit thinking about how lonely it must’ve been recovering before the use of social media, and especially for people like me, who don’t attend AA (I’m not here to spark a debate, you can keep your big book thumping thoughts to yourself, all that should matter to [which is the same thing that matters to me] is that if you get and stay sober and so long as you’re not imposing harm on yourself or others, who the fuck cares what your modality or subscription of choice is, as to how you keep sober – stay in your own fucking lane, and I’ll do the same – I celebrate and welcome all approaches and walks of life, so long as you don’t suggest I’m not doing something the “right” way according to your opinions and beliefs), identify as a pantheist, and is… incredibly socially awkward and gets anxious easily. IG has been a blessing, clutch +lifeline for me, and you guys are all fucking fabulously flawed deities in my eyes.
However, as great as social media is, it doesn’t fulfill or meet that need that even us socially awkward + easily anxious folx crave: the physical presence and legit face-to-face conversations. Something tangible – a person we can talk to and hug, and cry on their shoulders if need be. Not just any person will do though, it’s gotta be somebody who can wholly empathize or sympathize with how/what you feel, and understand it to the max. And when you don’t have that IRL, to be honest, it can diminish the amount of love you feel from strangers you’ve never met, and I understand I sound like I’m totally contradicting myself. That’s not my intention, nor is it to make me sound ungrateful for your time + attention.
To cut to the chase – my S.O. (or Hubbins McBabyDaddy as I often refer to him as), never said a word to me about what yesterday was. Didn’t say a word to me when I was trying on my gala dress for the She Recovers conference next weekend, and to be a total “woe is me, bitch eating crackers princess” I had to fish for a compliment about my new hair cut/color.
A couple of weeks ago I cried at the fact I couldn’t remember the last time I was told I look pretty, or that I’m appreciated, or anything of the sort. I can’t tell you how much that hurts. Yes, I’ve talked to him – several times – but it’s evident this is who/how he is (becoming), and it’s a lonely place to be. I can’t talk about my journey and expect to be understood, because he’s a “normie” and we don’t see eye to eye on addiction, recovery, mental health, or anything along those lines – despite the fact he’s in recovery himself, he used to be a heroin junkie 15 years ago and has come SOOOO far since the early 2000’s, and having these types of conversations met with – sometimes, I might as well be talking to a brick wall – it’s another lonely place to be.
So while I meant what I said about rebirthday photos, and how they’re not always these big fancy ordeals, I failed to mention how big of a deal the day itself is (a rebirthday is), and I cried (you guys, I cry a lot, but 9.99 times out of 10, I do it somewhere I can’t be seen or heard) because I felt like maybe these milestones aren’t special to him and/or other “normies”, because in his/their eyes, since they don’t understand or know what it’s like to fight addiction, depression, self-harm, eating disorders, whatever flavor of mental illness you’d like to use in this instance – but for this particular day, a huge day for me and all I’ve been through and overcome, I couldn’t help but wonder in his mind, since it was obviously just another day to him altogether, maybe it’s a day not worth remembering because it’s something I “shouldn’t have found myself in” anyways – the substance abuse in the form of heavy alcohol consumption.
I share all this not to shame him or throw a pity party, and it all comes full circle in the form that I’m discussing my physical relationships, because I had one… two? IRL friends send me well wishes yesterday, which is one or two more than most people have… but it’s the overall anticlimatic-ness that was yesterday, and how if it weren’t for the comfort and encouragement from a sea of strangers + online framily, it would’ve felt that much more lonely and seemingly uneventful.
It’s another negative impact, cyclical thing though — this feeling of being underappreciated, unacknowledged, straight up ignored, or taking the time to really feel the weight of all your world on your shoulders. A couple of weeks ago, I was so angry (and kept it in, because I knew I’d be explosive if I let it all out) and I straight up wished I could drink. I wished I could drink SO bad. I fantasized about the hidden bottle of whiskey that is stowed away until liquor-swigging, “normie” friends of my S.O. come over to shoot the shit with him, and imagined the slow, warm tingle that would take place as the liquid made its way down to my stomach, only to be followed by the electric dancing that ever-so-lightly takes place underneath your skin as the alcohol hits your bloodstream. I imagined a warm, fuzzy blanket of happiness coming over me as the whiskey kicked in, and then I became so violently disgusted with myself for even thinking such things.
I felt that alone though. I profess all this to you, not because I wished I could drink, I tell you this because even though I know I can drink whenever I want to (as can you and everyone else), I know that absolutely nothing good will come of it. I know that as intense and heavy as the feelings can get, there’s not a fucking thing alcohol could improve upon any situation, shitty or euphoric. I take my feelings like I used to take my shitty vodka when I used to (rarely) buy it — straight up. (Towards the end of my drinking career, I was more of a high ABV craft IPA kinda gal.)
I tell you all these things, because even when I/you/we feel weak, it’s vitally important to remember that alcohol will not make me/you/us stronger.
Alcohol has no place and serves no purpose in my life anymore. I tell you these things because that is what we truth-tellers do: tell the gut-wrenching, brutally honest truth, because this is what recovery is, before/during/after the pink cloud bullshit passes — accepting things for what they are, and not caving to an immediate/temporary release and relief.
If you’re struggling, I see you. I hear you. I literally feel you. Keep fighting and remembering that you’re never alone, and I promise to do the same.
I love you.
(The pic above was taken a few weeks ago in the parking lot of the grocery establishment where I had a hit-and-run on the day of my “wake-the-fuck-up call.” Luckily, NO ONE was injured or in the car I hit, and Betty (my old Ford Explorer) had a permanently mangled front-end following the incident. I recall none of it and was in shock and disbelief when I was informed it had happened. It is still nausea inducing, to this very day, to visit this grocery store but I go from time to time to try and prove to myself that I can overcome fears or some bullshit like that, I don’t know. The first year following my “supremely spiritual awakening” I couldn’t drive past the store without feeling like I was going to involuntarily puke everywhere – that’s what immense shame, guilt and disgust over mistakes made in previous lives will do to you.)