A topic was brought up in my meeting today around Surrendering. It really made me think about what this means in my own life. When I looked up what surrender means, it stated “to stop fighting and admit defeat”. I did that with Alcohol almost 3 years ago. Alcohol had a tight grip on my life. It was as if I was wearing a mask, and I was trapped behind it. The mask, was the alcohol and as long as I wore my mask, and buried my identity, drinking away whoever was behind it, things would just get better eventually. I fought for years, a very tiresome battle. While I was wrestling with the bottle, I was losing my life as I knew it, but I still wonder….what was the girl with the mask fighting for in the first place? To prove that I could be a social drinker, after the progression proved that I couldn’t? To prove that if I switched from red wine to white wine that I wouldn’t get as drunk or maybe wouldn’t black out? No matter how many ways I tried, I proved over and over, alcohol was always going to win. It won by tearing me apart from my friends and family, tearing apart every inch of my self esteem, and making me believe that without it, I was nothing. It would win when I would wake up from a blackout, not remembering what I did or who I talked to the night before. Feeling scared, anxious and ashamed, only to make me drink more to numb those feelings, night after night, thinking that the outcome would be different. It was the truest form of insanity. I thought that as long as I was behind the mask, nothing would hurt as much. But it hurt worse. I finally took off the mask and admitted defeat with alcohol, I could not control my drinking and I could no longer live in this mask of denial.
Without the alcohol, when the mask was off, everything looked fuzzy and unfamiliar. Alcohol took the place of having to do the real work in life. It let me drown out the pain, the fear, the rejection, the self loathing. I wondered what would happen now? How would I have fun? Am I funny sober or was it the alcohol controlling me all these years? I would later learn that I am a lot more funny sober, and I was quite the opposite drunk…who knew! I wasn’t sure how it would feel to not wake up hungover, challenging myself to make it through the days with my pounding headache, but still acting as if I was on top of everything. All I saw now was a blank slate before me that for once, was not a result of a blackout. It wasn’t something that happened in the past that I needed to try to remember. Rather, it was a forward reflection of a new beginning, a script unwritten, a second chance. It would mean remembering everything, not hiding behind the mask of “I must have said that when I was drunk” or pretending that I remembered things when in fact, I didn’t. It was a world where I would take accountability for myself, my actions. I would have to be a Mom who was present all the time, even when I was terrified of failing. Alcohol was my mask and the mask was gone. And what was left behind it was a woman who had been there, wanting to be set free, wanting to surrender but afraid of what she may find.
So far, I have found so many things under that mask; some good, some scary and a lot that I need to work on. But all of it me and all of it raw. Scars from my past that I could finally face head on, emotions I needed to work through that in the end, weren’t as scary as I imagined. I learned that I didn’t have to please everyone all the time. That I could set healthy boundaries and learn not to feel bad about them. I lost people that I never thought I would, and I got through the pain sober and clear minded. I learned that I love to help others, and it is so much more gratifying to do it present, with all my heart and soul. I learned that my husband never stopped loving me, ever, not even in my darkest days and that I needed to forgive myself for the errors of my past if I were ever to move forward. I learned that some days just suck, they are horrible, stressful and people can be cruel. And it hurts sometimes, life can hurt. But, the thing is, they sucked when I was drinking too, and most times than not, the alcohol made the bad days worse. Probably the best thing I have learned so far is that my kids loved me so much more than I loved myself. They never saw a mask…they just saw their Mom.