Monday, January 31, 2011

Dirty Truths

Recently I was having a conversation with a very close friend about her brother, who is addicted to opiates. We were discussing how he can't seem to get his head in the right place to find a solution - he thinks he's on the right track sometimes, he talks of getting away (hello, geographical cure), and of straightening up - but it's just... all wrong. Poor guy. Anyway, she was telling me how I am not the same as him because I was strong and knew what I had to do to stop drinking. I recognized that I had a problem and I did something about it.

And while I know she was saying that kindly and lovingly and she meant it, I also knew she was wrong. I am no different than he is. No different than any addict. Not then, not now. Put a drink back in my hands and I will turn right back into what I was: a sick, active alcoholic.

When I see other people out in the world struggling with alcohol, drugs, food, cigarettes, on and on and on, I remember to never look at the differences between them and me, but to look for the similarities, to practice infinite compassion. Because I must. Because I know we are all fighting the same fight. Yes, some addictions are a bit more grave than others, no doubt. And some of them wreck our lives harder and faster than others.

But the deep down uncomfortable truths of our lives are, in all likelihood, the same.

The truth is there was a lot of lying. A lot of daily white lies about why I was so tired, why I was so cranky, about how much I drank or didn't drink.

The truth is I carried around a massive amount of shame. Crippling shame. I could never look anyone in the eye when I spoke to them because when I did, I thought they could see right through me to what I was... nothing more than a sick, worthless, disgusting, stinky alcoholic. I felt ugly all the time, inside and out. Certainly not like a valuable human being. And most certainly not like a woman.

The truth is I was abusing my body to a horrific degree. I had sleep problems. Obviously. And skin problems due to constant dehydration. And respiratory problems from all the smoking I did along with my drinking. Stomach and digestive problems so painful they kept me out of work for two-day stretches. Kidney infections and bladder problems. And of course there was the panic and worry over all of those issues, compounding them, making them even worse.

The truth is that sometimes I would get so drunk so fast on any given night that I would throw up and pass out and wake up wondering how I got in bed, if I ate, if I got on the phone with some unfortunate friend and talked their ear off. I probably had dozens and dozens of blackouts in the course of a few years. I blanked them out. I made myself not think about them because when I did, I was immobilized by anxiety.

The truth is I used to bring home alcohol in the evenings and be itching to get into it, and I would drink and drink until I was head-spinning drunk, stuff my face, go to bed in a daze, wake up in pain, promise myself I would stop, berate myself and beat myself up mentally all.fucking.day.long., go home from work... and do it all over again. To paraphrase Tara, it was like living in a nasty version of Groundhog Day. Living the same day, the same awful day, for years on end.

I am constantly spouting joy in this space - and yay! there's nothing wrong with that! - but just because I have had, in my estimation, a very lucky, happy time of it being sober, that doesn't mean I have forgotten these truths. Like I said in my previous post, The Reality Of It, I have to remember the reality so that I have armor against the "I can just have one" mentality, if and when it surfaces in my consciousness.

And if I have to tell the truth now, I am putting them down here in this space not so much for me as for anyone who knew me before, reading this now, who didn't know how bad it was. Which is everyone, really. I was actually angry about that at first, that no one seemed to get it. But then, how could anyone get it? No one was here to see it.

But those are the dirty truths of what my life was. So yeah, I wake up happy as hell every single day now because you can't imagine how damn thankful I am that those are no longer my truths. I feel worthwhile now. I feel feminine. I feel healthy. I feel full of hope and love and laughter. And I am free of shame.

And I will keep fighting the good fight for myself, every single day, to make sure it stays that way.

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

WOW, you really wrote a wonderful description of how it was and how it can be. I'm very proud of you, for many reasons, not the least being
for your recognizing your truth and living it, ODAT.

LOVE YOU

Melissa said...

Thank you Mom. That means so much to me. I love you too!

Lisa@The Cutting Edge of Ordinary said...

You are one of the bravest people I know. You are so open and out there with you life and your struggles and I am just amazed by that.

I have a friend who is struggling with alcohol right now. I'm reading your story and shaking my head in agreement with everything you wrote, cause that is his life right now. He's got a lot going on, including a Dad who is near death. I want to help him, but I don't know what to do. After reading this I think I will print it out, with your permission, and tuck it in his pocket one night before he leaves my house. I think it might stir something within him.

I am so happy you realized just how strong you can be. I hope my friend sees the same in himself before it's too late. Love ya Melissa.

claudia young said...

i just wanted you to know i was here. that's all. big love to you.

Bev said...

What a fantastic post! I'm so glad you came clean here, and most importantly, that you GOT clean. You are one of the most joyful people I know and I think that joy comes from living your best life.

Congrats to you, my friend! I'm proud of you.

XOXO
Bev

SaintTigerlily said...

No words. That is just beautifully put.

Cate Subrosa said...

Ach, I have so many comments for you lately. :)

Just wanted to say: beautifully written. I know that isn't the point of this for you, but thought I'd say so anyway. ;)

krysta said...

i never know what to say when you post because you write so nakedly honest about the struggles you were/are going through it's hard for me to comment because i have never had to struggle through that personally. i am just so proud of you for knowing what was wrong, how to take care of it and having the honesty and trust of just laying it all the line. facing ourselves honestly and knowing the good and bad facets of our being is the bravest thing we can do, especially if we can try to repair the bad and keep the good... and succeed.

Melissa said...

To everyone who commented, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Lisa - You can absolutely print this out, and any of the rest of my posts as you see fit. I wish your friend all the best, and all the strength he will need to see his own reality. I'm very sorry you have to watch him struggle like that. And I love you too!

claudia - Big, big love right back. I'm glad you were here.

Bev - I really appreciate that, especially coming from such a strong woman. :)

Blythe - ♥♥

Catherine - Come on now... you know me: that point is highly valued. ;)

Krysta - You just coming by and saying anything makes me deeply happy. We talk quite enough for me to know how you feel and vice versa. Love you like crazy.

Nicole said...

This post is amazing in its honesty and insight. You are a phenomenal writer and I continue to check in and read your posts. Love the new look, too! I usually comment as anonymous, but my name is Nicole. Thanks for writing - you are a huge help.

Melissa said...

Nicole, your comment means so, so much to me. Thank you. And thanks for reading.

Laura S. said...

You.Are.Amazing. <3

Melissa said...

Aw Laura. Hi. ♥ Thanks.

The Home Cook said...

I know I knew you during this time, alebit from thousands of mile away and not yet in person, but it pains me to know that you were feeling all of this and I never knew. Although like you said, how could I? But still...you're such a wonderful person and I hate that you felt the way you did.

I am so happy for you, happy that you're in a better place and happy that you can share this story with others. Much love!

Melissa said...

Sarah, I love that your avatar is still that carbonara. Hee. Anyway, thank you very very much. I'm so glad you're still in my life!

Cary said...

Sometimes I read a thing that is so honest and profound and spot-on that I find myself wishing I knew the writer in real life. In this case, I already know you, and that makes me happy. Like the Home Cook, I hate to hear how much you were hurting at a time that we were already friends and I had no clue (for a while, anyway), but I know that addiction is a lonely business. Now you are healing and happy, and I am so happy for you and proud to call you my friend, proud of your progress. You so get it. Six months and you have the wisdom of someone with a gold chip. I see you helping a lot of people in the future, Melissa.

Congrats on six months. I never doubted for a second that you could do it.

Melissa said...

Cary, your comments always leave me speechless. Thank you, with a big hug.

Sober Julie said...

I found your post through Crying Out Now and can totally relate to it. You've written alot of what I lived.
Thank you for sharing, I'll continue to read and share in your experience on this journey.
www.juliedoinglife.blogspot.com
xo

Melissa said...

Thanks Julie. I'd like to think (well, not "LIKE" but you know what I mean...) that a lot of us lived this and just didn't talk about it. And I think it's good to put it out there.

Thanks for reading!

The Act of Returning to Normal said...

I'm so glad you wrote this Melissa! Me too, for sure. Thank you for the
reminder of just how crappy it all was, and also for sharing the
blessings and changes. It was so hard to believe it when I was
drinking, but it is true!

Also - thanks for the plug!