If you’ve been a reader of mine for some time you probably know that I write a lot about drinking and my drinking story.
I’ve worked really hard on processing growing-up in an alcoholic household and the experiences I’ve had with alcohol as an adult. I started this blog, Living Inside the Grey, a couple months back. It was received with tons of praise. I felt really good writing it, for the most part.
As I wrote more and lengthier posts about my drinking and about the different avenues I was exploring for recovery, I tried a new program. My experience was good until it wasn’t. I left because my sobriety felt threatened. I lost my footing in a lot of ways when I decided to leave because of how I chose to leave–an honest note in the Facebook group instead of going directly to the head of the program who was a friend. I was told that I had mishandled my exit. I was told, by a mutual friend of the head of the program and myself, that I had hurt the director in innumerable ways, taken advantage of them, and owed them an apology at the least. I was almost 60 days sober and two days shy from my 25th birthday.
To say the least, I’ve been struggling since then. I’ve been struggling to figure out how to be a kinder, better human. I’ve been trying to parse the meat of it and piece it together with what happened and what I was being told about myself by others, with who I know myself to be. I didn’t speak out about this experience because I lived in fear of hurting feelings, but now I’m scared I’m going to only hurt myself by being quiet. This experience rocked my world because I was told I had mishandled a situation when I did what I had to to protect myself. I was told I owed someone something because they had given me their program for free multiple times. I was scared, confused, and unsure of how to handle things. I apologized to the owner of this program pretty quickly after I left, but the bridge was burned.
I didn’t set out to try to reinvent the wheel (a saying my old sponsor’s father used to repeat to her with abundance), but I did set out to be honest about my recovery journey. This situation was truly not the thing that made me drink again, but it was a factor in feeling unsafe in recovery spaces because when I voiced a similar concern in a group setting, I had done it the wrong way.
I do agree that if I could do things again, I would keep my concerns personal and one-on-one, instead of voicing them to the rest of the group, but I’m tired of holding onto the pain and the embarrassment that came with this experience.
I felt like I had been kicked-out of the sober club because I had made a mistake when I was in early recovery. I felt like I couldn’t talk about what had happened without hurting feelings and I still feel like that as I write these words. I don’t know whether it is right or wrong to feel that way, I just know it’s how I feel.
I am being vague on purpose. It is not my place to share specifics here, but I do own the experience and my feelings attached to what happened.
I do owe myself coming as clean as I can in this space, a space I had caved out with the soul purpose of building a community accepting of any and all ways of recovery. I feel hypocritical, apologetic, and like I learned a lot from an experience that could have really hurt me if I was a different person/a different type of drinker.
Basically, I am writing these words for me and as a way to say I am here again. I am occupying this sober space once more, with more knowledge, more experience, and more kindness. I do hope you stop by and appreciate those of you who have stayed on since September, re-reading old posts, and reminding me I can always come home.
I don’t want these words to make you feel angry at either them or me, these words are not about sides, they’re about the right I have to share my story, the acceptance that I made a mistake that hurt someone I respected and still feels costly to me in terms of how much I lost (a friend, an entire program, my way). I don’t want this post to read as a woe as me diatribe or anything close. I do want to continue to show up one day at a time with the knowledge (learnt from what happened) that one day is what counts.
Caroline Knapp, the author of Drinking: A Love Story writes: “Hope came not from circumstances or the acquisition of things but from the simple accumulation of active experience, from gritting the teeth and checking the items off the list, one by one, even though it’s painful and you’re afraid.”
I am afraid to write and publish these words. If I judged, I know others will judge me. I know this post is honest and I know I also could just save it in my drafts folder. What I know most is that none of that would save me. This in its self won’t either, but in the end, my accumulated lived out loud experiences, are better than any half-truths I keep hidden away.