"I look at it this way, now: I didn't know how to love that fiercely. It made me so afraid ... afraid I would screw it up, afraid something would happen to them, afraid I could never measure up enough for these two beautiful souls. And for so long, what did I do when I was afraid? I drank. So I was hiding from the fear. I heard, over and over, when I was first getting sober: How could you do that? Don't you love your kids enough to NOT do that? The answer was that I loved them so much I didn't know what to do.
I thought, perversely, I was doing them a favor by erasing myself from the picture a little at a time.
Only in sobriety can I accept myself and all my flaws, and know that the only perfect Mom for them is me. Some days I remember that easily, some days not so much." But at least I know it, now.
~Ellie - One Crafty Mother
That same day, I tried reading Ellie's comment to a friend over the phone, as we talked about our own sobriety. I couldn't stop the crying. That's what happens when something you're trying to say is the truth.
When you are doing something so damaging to yourself and your family, when you are trying to erase yourself from the picture, you are so alone and so scared. I was, anyway.
Recently, someone in recovery said I don't know how this is my life. I don't know why I'm at this meeting. I don't know what I'm doing here. I'm just so confused.
Yeah, I get that. But I guess confused is better than numb...or erased.
For me, the beauty of sobriety lies in the fact that I'm seeing through the fog and toward myself now. I'm not numbing the confusion anymore, and although that can be terribly overwhelming and there is so much work to be done, I'm not wandering aimlessly. I'm no longer blinded and hurting in the way that I was because of drinking, so focused on the drink and missing what mattered.
When you quit, the fog doesn't lift up and away easily, but it does settle. So the murky things are still there, around your feet, all the isms of alcoholism. But they are settled. In the quitting it is done. That is not to say there is no work, that would just be a ridiculous thing to say. But the fog, it is below, waiting to be trampled by your very own feet because of the clearing, the ability to see where you're headed.
This settling of my spirit is almost too much for me. Foreign. It's as if the letting go of alcohol flipped a mercy switch, chains and chains and layers and layers poof! gone, just in the quitting itself. Truth! Freedom! Even if I have no idea what I'm doing. Even if right now, I feel like a dry drunk so much of the time.
I can surrender now. I could never truly surrender before.
I have uncomfortable realizations around every corner, every hour. These are the thoughts I used to push away, erasing them frantically glass by glass...
I don't know who I am. Really. I've been 16 different people, depending on who I'm around. Are they all me? Which one is most of me? I don't know....I even do it in the blog world, I'm a part of so many circles. I like to think this is because I truly love all kinds of people and I know that's true, but it's also because I'm a chameleon. Who am I?A people-pleaser at the core so I don't even know what my favorite color is. It's probably my best friend's favorite color. I want to find my own favorite color...
I had an alcoholic personality before I ever even took a drink-fear of intimacy, trust issues... keep it all easy, give it to me now now now, angry, oh so angry, keep everyone happy, go numb...
I was erasing myself a little at a time because of all of those things, the way they were stored at the back of my heart and mind, pressed back, put away. That's why I could only really begin to see them after I quit erasing myself. And you know what? Those things are not that horrible, that impossible, or that painful after all. I was fighting them back with alcohol. And now I see that facing my deeply rooted issues is definitely not as painful as erasing myself from my own family.
Ellie is right. What my boys need and want is me. Even with all of my disheartening realizations, I am their perfect mother, just as I am, sober.
Oh, the grace.