Self-Portrait, Day 829
“To Live Is to Be Haunted”
One of my favorite (sober) humans, Sarah, tagged me to participate in a (MUCH NEEDED) creative challenge, #SoberSantaX12, where each day between now and Christmas, you share a form of gift that’s been bestowed upon you as a direct result of sobriety + recovery. Other than my apparent gift of writing run-on sentences and hoarding the fuck out of inspirational quotes, I’d like to dedicate today’s prompted post to my personal favorite sobriety gift: the ability to recover the fuck out loud with brutal honesty + conviction. That being said, this particular gift is like a Matryoshka (Russian nesting doll), because there’s multiple presents housed within the central gift.
After heavily debating on whether or not I felt like sharing this, I’m just going to vulnerably yet unapologetically put it out there: I am still in the throes of an unshakeable major depressive episode. Authentically felt, long-lasting joy and happiness have been extremely fleeting for months now. I’m continuously struggling with self-esteem, and though they are not mutually exclusive, I want to address them just the same. Whether it is classified as “healthy” or not, to perpetually gratify myself by running to an area of social media where I can quickly (or thoughtfully) put together a synopsis of my impassioned truth for whatever topics or stories I feel like putting out into the world, remains to be seen. I cling to these platforms though, because I have no one else to share them with, and sometimes (a lot of times…?) I want to feel understood or connected to like-minded souls, and this blog and my Instagram has blessed me with an abundance of others who “get it.”
“I write because I am alone and move through the world alone. No one will know what has passed through me… I write because there are stories that people have forgotten to tell, because I am a woman trying to stand up in my life… I write out of hurt and how to make hurt okay; how to make myself strong and come home, and it may be the only real home I’ll ever have.”
― Natalie Goldberg
I’ve said it a billion times, but I’ll say it again once more: this account is my digital diary / creative catharsis / a dumping ground for when I need to “verbally vomit”. This post is a mixture of all three. (Edit: Even as I type this, somebody just shared a quote about how revolutionary it is for a woman to not explain herself. You can’t fucking win for losing, and especially not in the realm of clamoring, “spiritually fit” women who’ve got their own arsenal of inspirational/motivational quotes, where everyone has an empowered (albeit some come across as more entitled) message and/or is doing their best to either rack up followers, have their own watermarked quotes shared with the masses, or be some kind of micro-influencer. It is a beautiful vast sea of voices, and I’d like to hope it’s one where intentions aren’t rooted in ego, but it’s a giant sea nonetheless, that I feel like I’m allowing myself to get swept up, drug down, or drowned out in altogether. I also realize the irony of my message and platform[s] for which I’m choosing to express myself on. Fucking technology, I swear.)
To substantiate my thoughts and feelings about aforementioned sea of voices, quotes, stories, mantras, empowered self-assuredness — it is incredibly easy to feel like you’re screaming into a vacuum; I personally keep finding myself becoming more and more discouraged. I understand there are no “new ideas” when it comes to people having similar stories, ideas, and topics to discuss about the various topics or lifestyles within the sobriety + recovery commUNITY — but when you’re striving for… fuck, I don’t know where I’m going with this or what I’m trying to say… maybe I’m just jealous for whatever reason about stupid fucking popularity online, the identifiable silos that function within the recovery community, and in turns get mad at myself for not being able to write cohesive pieces, catchy article titles, or establish more concrete ideas. I don’t have a glamorous life or job, I don’t have a traditionally pretty face, or a unique name, or an infectious sense of confidence; I’m just me, a cis, hetero, working-class, white female and mother of two, who drank herself to the point of getting arrested for a DWI with children under 15 years of age in her car, in the middle of a Tuesday afternoon, then decided to get her shit together and share said shit on the internet. See, the addict in me seems to want something more (good, great, better, best, more) out of life or this recovery. It’s selfish, and I can’t tell you what it is I’m trying to achieve. I guess I’m frustrated I’m not able to do more with my (self-righteous) potential, and the patience I often preach we should have, is nonexistent. (**NONE OF THESE THINGS ARE AT THE FAULT OF ANYONE OTHER THAN MYSELF, by the way. I take full ownership of how I perceive things, and if you can’t tell — I HAVE SO MUCH WORK TO DO.)
At the risk of being “anti feminist” (or whatever, I’m sure there’s a more correct label for it), as I mentioned, the “spiritually fit”, “change your outlook, change your life”, “happiness is a choice” upper-middle class women I keep finding myself angry with — the ones who’ve either got husbands who are the breadwinners or they were born into money and are very far removed from reality, yet have droves of people who worship every mindless morsel of false “posi vibes” bullshit fed to them — I get mad because even though I’m financially sound, have health insurance, etc. I still can’t afford the therapy I need to talk my shit through with a psychologist, which perpetuates a feeling of shame and guilt and my inability to mind over matter shit that cannot be mind over mattered.
“I enjoy almost everything. Yet I have some restless searcher in me. Why is there not a discovery in life? Something one can lay hands on and say ‘This is it’? My depression is a harassed feeling. I’m looking: but that’s not it — that’s not it. What is it? And shall I die before I find it?”
― Virginia Woolf
Even though I understand what’s going on in my head is due to chemicals and neurotransmitters and genetics and all this stuff I cannot personally control. Additionally, second guessing myself is an involuntary reaction to most things I either say aloud in conversation or as a direct response to another person, and I do this on a daily basis. SHOCKING SURPRISE! It’s created various forms of anxiety, to the point where sometimes I can’t or won’t respond to a text or direct message for days, because I’ll overthink the fuck out of it. I always feel like I’m being too verbose or too simplistic; I’m constantly told I over explain things, yet when I don’t do this, I’m asked to expand upon what I’ve said, and sometimes I’m ignored altogether. It’s frustrating and I let it get to me more than I should. I’m overtly sensitive and have a very limited spectrum of passiveness and assertiveness, and if I lean towards the assertive end, it typically comes out as defensive thus creating more frustration.
At the risk of being further redundant, I do NOT share these things as a means for cookies or head pats; *do not mistake my truths for woe*. Even if the relief felt is transient, expressing myself through digital media has become my coping mechanism of choice. Hell of a lot better than guzzling booze, chasing a boy for the thrill of it, or sneaking a benzo in a knowing attempt to block my pain from memory. Pain may not even be the right word. Though I don’t feel hopeless or suicidal, I feel dissociated for reasons I cannot explain, and despite my glittering pink fairy guise, I harbor an expanding void inside of me. Since my lack of self-esteem, confidence, assertiveness, etc. predates my various mental illness diagnoses, with both of these originating before my love affair with alcohol, however, after spending a decade stunting my mental and emotional growth by drinking the way I did… it makes it more difficult to unlearn and really dissect the various, negative ways I’ve conditioned myself to think, and frequently disrupts my intrapersonal relationship and dialogue.
“The sense of unhappiness is so much easier to convey than that of happiness. In misery we seem aware of our own existence, even though it may be in the form of a monstrous egotism: this pain of mine is individual, this nerve that winces belongs to me and to no other. But happiness annihilates us: we lose our identity.”
― Graham Greene
Lastly, I cannot and will not ever promote the “fake it ’til you make it” mentality, either. I firmly believe in working through your shit, and working towards what you want to get. (See, that’s still a functional imperfect rhyme. I GOT PUNS TOO, Y’ALL.)
As per usual — if you read this far, thank you. If anything above resonates with you or you’ve got additional thoughts you’d like to contribute, please comment below.