I used to be afraid to tell my whole truth. I thought the truth would prevent me from being accepted, that it could hurt my career, or would make others tip-toe around me. I thought a stigma would follow me wherever I went; instead of being viewed as a strong, courageous woman, I feared people would look down on me.
Today I have enough confidence to ignore the people that do judge; today I know it’s their insecurity, not mine to hold.
I saw shame in having struggles with alcohol, depression, and anxiety, so I only told certain people what was truly happening in my life. Holding back kept me going back out- and in turn, hurting myself more every time.
I’ve been in and out of recovery since April 2011, when I first entered the doors of the “Dry Dock” in the Marina district of San Francisco. As I entered that meeting- a Native American meeting complete with sage- I was relieved to hear the stories of others and had no fear of raising my hand to share. Something about being honest in those rooms made me feel like I fit in somewhere- for once. However, my sobriety didn’t stick. I hadn’t had enough of my “yets.”
Since that Saturday afternoon, I’ve gone to multiple treatment centers, have gotten myself into trouble, damaged relationships, and have been to the hospital several times. I’ve fallen, lost jobs, moved cities, and scrambled for money. Still, I always managed to brush myself off, put the mask back on, and swept my problems under the rug.
This was always only a temporary fix.
Instead of beating myself up for these “mistakes” today, I am glad to have gone through the experiences- both good and bad- and to have the courage to share my stories with the hope that others don’t have to go through what I did.
I am grateful I no longer have to only show one side of myself or keep my story a secret.
I may have looked healthy, happy, and even “normal” on the outside, but don’t let appearances fool you. I still managed to get myself into all the trouble you could expect from someone with an alcohol problem.
Since opening up about my journey, I have received so much love from friends, acquaintances, and strangers both near and far. I had no idea how accepted and loved I would be by coming clean. Sharing my stories has been proof of the power of vulnerability.
Vulnerability is the ability to be fearless and free. We will never grow if we can’t step out of our comfort zone and be honest with both ourselves and others.