God, grant me the serenity…
Hi, my name is Jessie and I’m an alcoholic. I think one of the most important parts about both my faith and sobriety journey is seeing the transformation I’ve been making as a person. I’ve noticed changes in myself and I hope others have noticed as well. Today, for example, I did some volunteer work that I NEVER would have done if I was still drunk and didn’t have God in my life. Although it was exhausting, it felt good and it was so satisfying to see the great work being done. This is absolutely something I would not have appreciated having the opportunity to do six months ago. I might not love myself just yet, but little things like that, its making me start to like myself again.
As much as I’ve always had problems with people in my life, there was nobody I had a bigger issue with than myself. I guess the good news is, I can identify why I hated myself for quite some time. I was always sneaky. I think I developed that as an only child, that way I could get away with things. Its kind of hard to pass the blame onto someone else when there is nobody, but the blame never had to be passed if something bad happened and I was sneaky about it. But, that got me into a lot of trouble later in life.
When I was sixteen I began to self-harm. This may have been the most sneaky thing I have ever done. Many people who self-harm do so in places people can see, as it is often a cry for help. Me? I self-harmed and tried my best to make sure nobody saw a thing. I would do so high up on my arms, on my thighs, on my stomach – anywhere that people wouldn’t be able to easily see it on a day-to-day basis. Eventually it became too much to hide, scars appearing on my wrists and forearms, and I was burdened with dirty stares and accusatory glances. It really wasn’t anyone’s business but my own, I felt, but I guess people just needed to try to understand. Hell, I needed to understand. Self-harm was something I could never explain without being completely morbid, other than it wasn’t a form of a suicide attempt. On the contrary, actually; the pain was a physical reminder of why I needed to stay alive, because I was and am a living and feeling being.
Of course, the sneaking and self-hatred didn’t stop there. I found myself in perpetual lies. I wouldn’t make things up, but I just wouldn’t tell the truth. I wouldn’t tell my parents that my grades were slipping in school, I wouldn’t tell them that I was falling out with my best friends, and I wouldn’t tell them that I was talking to my biological family on the internet. There were just things I felt I needed to keep from people to prevent them from getting hurt. I realize now, of course, keeping things from them hurt a lot more than telling them the truth.
I ruined some of my best relationships because of my sneaking around and fear of commitment. I think the two go hand in hand, really. I was always sneaky because I was always afraid of letting people get too close to me. Constantly I would find myself making excuses for why I couldn’t do something – a family party, a doctor’s appointment, something ridiculous, just to avoid people. Why? I was trying to protect myself while having a complete disregard for the other person’s thoughts or feelings. I did and still do hate that about myself.
Relationships are tricky, be it romantic or friendly or familial. I was in an on-again, off-again relationship with my best friend for seven years. He knows more about me than any other person does, but I was always afraid of letting him get to close. I fell in love, and I got scared. I didn’t think I deserved a person who was so kind and accepting and I definitely thought he deserved better than me. I was always too scared to move forward, to love openly, and sadly but not surprisingly, there came I time when I prioritized alcohol over our relationship. Then, I decided to run as fast as I could and I slept with someone else while I was with him. I ruined the best thing I had going for me, and its something I could never even forgive myself for. Yet another way in which my life became unmanageable because of alcohol.
Friendships, well, those were always few and far between for me. I’ve always been a lone, old soul. I still have a hard time opening up and relating to people, although I feel I’m getting better. Again, I hated that about myself. I continually wished I could be more open, more outgoing, and more friendly, but it just wasn’t a part of who I was. Growing up an only child made me learn to accept being alone and adapting to not having anyone around. Getting older and watching those opportunities slip away, though, it wasn’t fun.
Then there is family. Well, I’m not sure I could have a bigger regret in my life than the lack of honesty with my family. Not just about the drinking and my faith, but everything in between. I regret the way they had to find out about my self-harming. The issue of me wanting to find out about my biological family, that could have absolutely been handled with more tact on my part. Wanting to move out of their house, well, I got lucky when they decided to move. I got out of having to figure out a way of having that conversation. Now I still have to face the drinking and faith. Sure, I recently told my parents that I stopped drinking, but that’s only a half truth. I didn’t tell them that I stopped because I realized I’m an alcoholic who is now attending AA meetings. The disappointment would be heartbreaking. Telling my parents about my faith is a whole other issue entirely. I’m not afraid of disappointing them, I’m afraid they will disappoint me. Fear is keeping me from being honest with them, but they NEED to know how important it is to me. Its selfishness like this that makes me still dislike myself more often than not.
The point is, this is all in the past, for the most part. I’ve noticed I’m able to open up to people more easily these days. I’m happier, in general. My mood has greatly improved, and my attitude towards others has done a full spin. I’m more appreciative of the little things in life, and more often than not I find myself putting a positive spin on sometimes unfortunate situations. I have so much more energy, and I’m finding myself doing things that the drunk, faithless Jessie never would have even considered doing. Good things are happening by the grace of God. As I said, I don’t love myself by any means, but I’m starting to like the person looking back at me in the mirror.
Our father, who art in heaven…
I’m very blessed to be here with all of you on this 18th day of sobriety, and I look forward to many more.