Here, in this Moment
This reflection was written a couple days ago (January 25th) on my sobriety birthday. I share it here with you all... with the invitation to pass it forward to anyone who may benefit.
:: Here, In This Moment ::
What follows is a glimpse into addiction recovery. I want to briefly preface by asking you to imagine this story as one (powerful) thread, in an astoundingly complex and beautiful tapestry. All of our lives are woven in this way...with some threads of gold and splendor, and some of pain and struggle, running parallel in the loom, weaving in and out of one another effortlessly...some yet to be imagined, some already frayed and fading away. In no way does this thread I am holding and illuminating here, depreciate all that my life has blessed me with. In no way does bringing attention here, to this uncomfortable place, degrade the magnificence of the weaving, or the profound beauty I have encountered. In fact, I am finding quite the opposite. Understanding the darkness, exploring the shadow, diving into the depths... allows us to recognize the immense spectrum of experience we are all capable of. Allows us to break cycles of harm, and imagine a world free of suffering. We can’t do this by looking away. When you step back and look in with curiosity and awe... it really is a masterpiece, this life we are embodying.
Today marks three continuous years, free from the hold of alcohol. Today, my spirit is abuzz with gratitude. Today, I get high on freedom, and it is worth every struggle. But while today is an anniversary of my sobriety, it is, by the nature of it, the almost-anniversary of my last, very painful, relapse. It is a Birth Day and a Death Day. It is a celebration, and also a mourning of sorts. When the memories come rippling through the veil. When grief surfaces to greet the gratitude. When Love shows all its many, dynamic, forms. When the shadows come, to remind the light how radiant it really is. Through my teens and the entirety of my twenties, I was an expert in secrecy, and many of you may not have known me awash in the haze of alcoholism. At the same time, I was also caught in the undertow of Denial, so you may have all very well caught glimpses (or whole damn episodes and seasons) of my struggle. I’ll never really know. I have to let it go. To encounter freedom from alcohol, for me, was to encounter humility, forgiveness, and grace. There are likely many letters left for me to write...apologizing for the hurt inflicted, acknowledging the damage caused by my behavior. Because I know very well that even small wounds...can still ache years later.
But I have also learned that most important, is to first forgive my own Self. To release the shame. To gently, firmly, acknowledge, that I was hurting, and desperately seeking something to ease the pain. That perhaps, I was not prepared to face my suffering, not ready to address my deep-seated insecurities...and in a strange way, alcohol bought me some time. And with time, came true healing. To be sure, more suffering was created in those years...but Addiction is not always what we think it is. There is an intelligence there, that, hard as it may be to see, is incredibly important to acknowledge, in order to shift the cycle of abuse. It’s a paradox (and if you know me, you know I love a good paradox). That realization didn’t come instantaneously. Although I got sober from alcohol early in 2019 (after several years of research and development), the work had just begun. The road to self-forgiveness was laid out before me, but I had to get radically, uncomfortably, honest with myself first.
I had to get honest, that my dance with addiction did not begin nor end with the alcohol. That I still was not free. That it was about to get incredibly hard before I found Ease. Upon setting the conscious intention to get free from alcohol, back in 2016, a deeply entrenched eating disorder, stemming from my early teens, stepped up and took the driver’s seat in a big way. I began to experience waves of anger and rage that scared me numb. I felt like the ultimate fraud. Though I got a taste of liberation when I stayed sober (enough to keep me wanting for more), parts of my true self remained locked away, buried deep beneath obsessive behaviors and more secrecy. Bulimia and alcoholism (and for a time in my teens/early twenties, anorexia and prescription stimulants) always went hand in hand, taking shifts in the effort to numb my body, to turn off my mind, to help me escape the moment. Even in years where I was free, on the surface level, from one or the other...they lingered deep within, offering misguided advice when I was hurting and needing help.
But real help, it turns out, has always been on the way. Both from within and out. I encountered the gift of desperation. Many times over. I began to Pray. My community and my husband and our families held me in powerful ways they may never fully know. Moments where I thought total destruction was imminent...turned out to be profound catalysts for transformation. My guides, seen and unseen, plant spirit and other, illuminated the way with starlight and fire. Divine intervention brought me into counsel with Katie Gray, and into the realm of the Empowered Heart work...and with this work, my capacity to comprehend and forgive, both myself and my addictions, grew in ways I could have never imagined. There’s more Story to tell here, for another time...but with Katie’s guidance (badass recovery midwife that she is) I finally released myself from the bulimia, and freedom was no longer just a dream. I see now, that I can’t fully understand how alcohol held me captive for so long, without including the eating disorder as well. The two stories weave in and out of one another, counterparts of a whole. And I hope that by continuing to break down the taboo with fearless honesty, more people will begin believing in their own recovery.
It also feels important to acknowledge how my innate privilege assisted my recovery. My deepest sorrows have almost always been matched in their intensity by great joys and experiences of beauty. I was born into (and married into) a large, fun-loving family. This has gifted me a large pool of support...so many people who have loved and supported me, no matter our struggles, no matter the distance, no matter the wounding. I’ve never had trouble finding work, or community, and the world around me has, mostly, informed me that I am worthy of healing (despite the inner abuser who convinced me otherwise). My incredible partner, my husband, has always stood by my side, and reminded me of my goodness...even, and especially, in the middle of serious shitshows (my own). I’ve had the honor of encountering a deeply intimate relationship with the Green world, that held me and nurtured me in both moments of joy, and moments when I felt I had nowhere else to turn.
I know, without a doubt, that my path to recovery would be immensely more difficult had I been born into a different body, into a different home, without access to such an incredible support network. AND, I have to believe that this privilege might also grant me the ability to be of service to others on the path. I have to believe that I am worthy of my healing, no matter what. It doesn’t do anyone any good if I shame myself for what I have been given, if I shut myself out, if I ridicule my own healing. I have to believe that we are all capable of healing, that we are all Radiant, and do my part to increase the accessibility of true and lasting recovery.
I know this dance will continue. Sometimes confronting addiction feels like a game of whack-a-mole (Hi, Mindless Scrolling! Hey, Caffeine!). I still get lost sometimes. I know that my work here will never be done... and I embrace that truth with hope...committing myself to growth and exploration through the entirety of this life tapestry. I am beginning to understand why I came here. But I just want to say...here, in this moment... That loving Presence is the antidote to Escape. That Forgiveness can set you free. That *all* addiction can be confronted and released. That you are worthy of your healing. That your angels are listening. That you *can* reach out if you need support. That you *can* hold somebody who is falling to pieces, and still believe fiercely in their power. That we *can* trust fully in one another’s unique capacity to heal. Much love to you, and if you made it this far...thanks for listening.