Good Girl Addict vs. The Phenomenon of ‘Used To’

I’m beginning to think that I’m recovering. Not just from a recent foray into alcoholism, but from the last 18 or so years of my life. My mindset is the strongest it has ever been. My awareness is flat out flawless (if I do say so myself). My forward progression is pointed in a healthy and positive direction. I feel my capability, my vulnerability, my power and my fucking worth growing and growing and growing.

I mention vulnerability specifically because I’ve always seen it as a negative, as something to hide or be ashamed of. I’ve held it in my head as a weakness. That’s just not true. It’s within our vulnerability that we can see what truly makes us authentic humans. It heightens and strengthens our experiences in love, life, lust and loss. Of course, I can only speak for myself….but I like to think I’m speaking some truth for other people.

My life has suddenly found a groove in which I am thriving. I feel inspired more than I used to. I feel more awake, less checked out, more involved, more giving, less miserly with my emotion and time. I feel like the most real and true version of myself that I have ever been. And the best part right now is that I don’t need to drink to numb. I do not feel that gnawing, grating, grumble that tells me to walk in the door and pour. There’s no cacophonic deluge of emotion that must be quieted. And for a long, long time there was. It ruled my life and my behavior…But lately, it’s more like an ever-flowing river that’s just one single solitary piece of the scenery that paints my life; some days it’s smooth and calm. Other days it’s surging and wild….but not insurmountable.

And yes, there’s stuff that I am continually dealing with – e.g., all the adoption stuff, my mother’s cancer, mourning my brother and father (I don’t know if that will ever stop) and all my annoying and sometimes consuming body image bullshit. I used to feel like the sum total of all the things that happened to me and when they were all added up I was fucking worthless. I used to think that I wouldn’t heal from the years that beat me up and broke me down. I used to feel completely isolated and alone. Used. To.

Now, I see my life as wide open. I feel possibility. I feel a future I didn’t think would ever be mine. All the times I couldn’t handle my reality and decided to get fall down drunk or eat myself silly or get fucked blind by a stranger felt like tiny failures in themselves, baby steps leading me farther and farther away from knowing my worth. Now, I am beginning to feel like I matter. And not just to my family and friends…I matter to myself. I am important to me.

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In and out goes the tide…

Yesterday was my birth mother’s birthday. I met her for the first time shortly before she turned 50. She just turned 52. For years, I would have given anything required of me to know that piece of information. Any knowledge about my birth mother held an elusive and seductive power over me for most of my life and I would have willingly paid the price. In many ways, I have.

Two years ago, my birth father and I organized a surprise lunch for her. He told her that he was taking her out to lunch, just the two of them. But, unbeknownst to her, he and I planned for me to be waiting at the restaurant. When she saw me, the look on her face was priceless and she started to cry. I was elated to be able to share a moment like that with the woman I never thought I would know. I keep the memory of that day in my heart.

Last year, when she turned 51, I texted her and said something like: ‘Happy Birthday ___. I hope all is well with you.’ And her response, hours later was: ‘Thanks, kid.’ That text was the first contact I had with her after our major falling out, 7 months prior. From surprise lunches with tears to a vague text….the tide comes in…then it goes out.

My dad used to call me ‘kid’. My heart. It aches.

This year, I didn’t reach out at all. I thought of her the day before her birthday and wondered if I would be able to gather the courage/desire to send another awkward text. Apparently not.

I think about her a lot. I wonder what she’s doing. I wonder if she thinks about me. I fantasize that one day she will reach out and apologize for disappearing and choosing my birth father over me.

I try to hang onto the good memories I have of her – the first time I met her, when she first hugged me and touched my cheek, the day she introduced me to 2 of my brothers and that elated smile when I surprised her. I move forward with the security and peace that comes with knowing (finally) that I have her eyes, her hair, her lips and that for a short time, I had her love.

As much as thinking about her these days makes me sad, I am honestly really grateful for the beautiful pain that comes with having known her. It’s spectacularly complicated but it’s light year better than wondering who she was all those years…34 to be exact. That particular ‘not knowing’ pain was fuel to the fire of my addictions. Never ending fuel.

I miss her. I miss her raspy voice and her no nonsense way of viewing people and their ways. I miss her perspective. I miss the possibility she held. I miss the connection I had with her.

Maybe next year I’ll be able to write about how she and I mended fences and were able to celebrate her 53rd birthday together. Maybe.

 

Good Girl Addict vs. Her Worth

“He thought he was just having a fun, relaxing conversation with his long lost daughter. I didn’t speak up in the moment and I let my emotions fester. In order to move forward I was going to have to knuckle down and let this go. So, that’s what I tried to do. I assured him that I was fine and wanted to move forward with a relationship with him. I told him that, but God, I didn’t mean it. I was just putting on my game face for the sake of someone else’s comfort. I was still pushing my very valid and loud feelings aside for the explicit purpose of making someone else feel better.”

So. The above paragraph is from my journal-like-stream-of-consciousness memoir outlining a tiny bit of my interaction with my birth father. This happened about a month after I made contact with him, but before I met him in person. What I tried to let go was him making ugly, sexist comments about ‘fat chicks’ before he knew that I am in fact, a fat chick. Unfortunately, that shit runs deep for me, so my ability to let go when it comes to things of that nature isn’t strong and it ended up being part of the reason he and I have not spoken in almost 2 years. I’m still working towards opening up more about all that stuff here. Today is not that day.

The reason I wanted to reflect on this is because of the last 2 sentences. I used to do this kind of thing constantly. I would placate. I would please. I would submit. I would reject my reactions as ‘over the top’ or ‘irrational’ all because I didn’t want to upset someone male.

Thinking back on how I used to behave with the men in my life deeply unsettles me now. For years, I quite literally didn’t have a voice in my relationships. I was never heard, never actually acknowledged or recognized. It just didn’t happen. It became my normal course of action to behave exactly as I did with my birth father. I felt triggered and fearful but didn’t speak up because I didn’t want him to ‘react’. I didn’t want to upset the apple cart because of my huge emotions.

Well, I don’t think I’m going to do that shit anymore. Sure, my emotions are loud, they’re consuming, they’re fickle. But you know what? They’re also mine. They’re also valid. They also have worth. It’s taken me a long time to figure out how very ok it is for me to feel the way I feel. It’s taken  me even longer to stop (well, to try to stop) feeling guilt for how I feel. I taught myself to reevaluate constantly so that I could please or take care of others. Well, I don’t think I’m going to do that shit anymore either.

I’m feeling a large sense of coming home lately. A sense of gratitude and a sense of actually feeling whole. The broken parts are still wounded, but they are healing. God, they are reknitting themselves in ways I didn’t think would ever happen. It’s fantastically beautiful.

I used to feel terrified when I would feel similar shifts in the past. I didn’t think I deserved to be healed, so I would run from the light because the dark was safe. Familiar. Comfortable. I also didn’t think I was worthy for the deeply good, healthy and fulfilling relationships that I see a lot of my friends invest in. I just….didn’t think it was possible for me.

I was wrong.

It’s very possible for me.

I have someone new in my life. Right now.

I was talking to my mom the other day about him and she asked, ‘He’s kind to you, isn’t he?’

Immediately, with warmth spreading through me I said, ‘Yes, mom. He is very kind to me.’ Later that day, I was struck – deeply struck with how foreign that sentiment actually is to me. The last man who was truly kind to me was my father and he’s been gone for 5 years now.

I’m so fucking blessed to see my worth now. I hope very much that other women are waking up to their worth too. We are so incredibly powerful, ladies. Own that shit.

Good Girl Addict vs. Vulnerability

I had a session with my therapist this week. I had much to say about my addictive patterns. Not shocking. It seems to be all I think about. I observe my behavior constantly, always watching and waiting for my Addictive Voice to engage with me. She speaks a lot and encourages me to act on my addictive thoughts. She likes to be in control. She likes to win. She’s still loud. She still has a hold on me, but she’s not as potent as she once was. That in and of itself is a huge comfort.

My therapist and I got to talking about my response to vulnerability. This is a common theme within the work I try to do on myself. I have spent a lot of time over the years feeling vulnerable and needing something to take the edge off (especially when I don’t understand why or how I’m feeling about something). This is where the roots of my addictions were born. e.g., eating and eating to compensate for the neglect and fear I felt when my parents couldn’t give their attention as completely to me as they did to my troubled big brother. This is something I know, something I turn over in my head a lot and in doing so I really understand why this tendency of mine started. I get it. I have examined it to death and yet I still feel the need to write about it here…we all know I like to adore my pain. I like to stroke it and remember. In a sideways, fucked up way I feel alive in the remembering.

But I don’t need memories to make me feel alive lately. I haven’t wanted to wistfully look over my shoulder to find another nugget of truth so I can better understand why the wording my boss’s latest e-mail may have triggered me a little. Clearly, I’ve been hyper-sensitive over the last 2 or 3 years and very involved in my pain. Having an affair with my memories and feelings felt like the right thing to do, back then. That’s what being a sensitive Empath will do to you I guess, especially when said Empath had some serious shit thrown her way.

I needed to stay where I was for as long as I did in order to gain the clarity and sense of self that I have today. So now, I am able to recognize the depth of the strength I have. I can appreciate that even though I have my moments of feeling overwhelmed and FAT and shitty and tired and lost, they are fleeting.

I am so much better at recognizing when a hopeless pattern of sifting through the ashes of my failures is rushing to knock on the door of my consciousness. I used to be waiting at the door to welcome that shit onto the couch in my mind so that I could have a good, long conversation with my sadness. Now if I hear the knock, I may look out the peephole just to assess what is actually there, but I don’t let it in. If I walk away from the door, the emotion or pattern goes away and I feel relieved and empowered when I feel it retreating. That kind of thing responds well to internal walls (in my experience).

I want to put my energy into things that are worthwhile and don’t hold me back. I deserve to feel good about where my life is going and I am finally, finally beginning to accept that.

I still have a tough time sitting with my vulnerability. But I don’t feel an overarching, tremendous need to check out and be numb. I truly do not need to escape. I’m still drinking, yes…but it’s not holding me prisoner as persistently as it once was. That shift has been game changing. Grateful doesn’t even cover it.

But, I still don’t want to give it up. I still want to have the freedom to drink, when and how I choose…typing that hurts a little…and I’m not sure why. Maybe because one day I will have to give it up? Maybe I’m scared of that? Maybe I’m just too stubborn for my own good and I’m fighting a battle I can’t win? I don’t have all the answers tonight and I’m not going to wrack my brain trying to figure it out and beat myself up when I can’t. I’m just going to try and sit with this feeling, let it in a little and then let it go as best as I can.

I’m still here: this Good Girl Addict, defining my own recovery one post at a time.