I’ve been feeling like I have writer’s block lately, which is silly because I am not even sure I’ve been putting much effort into writing at all. I’ve been busy and tired and full of excuses. And quite frankly, all this friggin’ self-reflection can be physically and mentally exhausting at times.
Other writers have told me that when you feel uninspired, you should write anyway. So I’m trying to do that today.
I think part of my problem lately stems from fear – which has been a relentless theme throughout my entire life. I fear failure – that I will never amount to anything in this life. I fear not being able to tell my story in a way that touches others. I fear that there is nothing unique or interesting about me, and that the pain of rejection would be too much. Mostly, I just fear that I will spend the rest of my life failing to reach the unrealistic expectations I have set for myself, and while searching for peace and serenity, find that it was within arms reach the entire time.
Sometimes, when I start writing I feel like I’ve already heard my story 1,000 times by 1,000 different women. How is my story different? What makes my story unique? Who in their right mind would ever want to read a story about my messy, fucked up life and all the stupid mistakes I made along the way?
This is how I talk to myself when I let my addictive thinking take over. I forget that i no longer live that messy life or make those same mistakes. I still feel tainted at times, and I hate that about myself – but most days I feel content, so I guess that’s progress.
I’m often reminded, through the stories of others, that my story is the EXACT story I would have needed to hear when I was in the grip of my addiction. My story, whether anyone can relate or not, is a story of hope and one of redemption and grace and honesty and courage. If nothing else, my story is authentic, and that is valuable in a world where humans are programmed to either “follow” or be “followed”.
So I’m going to write today, and it might suck and it might be messy and confusing – or it might be none of those things – and whatever the result I will do it again tomorrow because it is something I am passionate about.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a journalist. I had dreams of being a big time reporter on the evening news. I wanted to be the face you saw interrupting your “regularly scheduled program” with Breaking News! It makes sense to me now – to desire a career where I was required to focus solely on the lives of others – to dig deep into their lives and discover all of their dirty laundry, and never once have to focus on my own. I even went to school for it!
Yes, I was a journalism major – I also had a few minors in things like Tumultuous Relationships, Obtaining Fake IDs and Binge Drinking as a Coping Skill.
Sigh…the good old days.
But that desire, like so many things in my life, has transformed into something else entirely over the years. And while I respect the profession, I have moved on from that dream – well, let’s just say I did a good job of drinking most of my youthful dreams away the moment I met vodka.
Since getting sober, I’ve discovered that I DON’T want to be the one exposing other people’s secrets. I don’t want to be the town gossip. I think it’s a far more beautiful thing to watch as other human beings dig deep within themselves to expose their own truths – their own secrets, pain and insecurities. I love a good transformation, and I am always rooting for the underdog.
I started writing about myself and my journey a few months after getting clean and sober – which might sound self-centered (which I can be at times…I’m not a saint), but really it was because I wanted to document my experience as it was happening.
I had done quite a bit of damage to my brain at the time, and I had a tendency to forget things. I knew that I could only tell my story honestly and accurately if I was doing it in the moment. Only I knew the idiosyncrasies of my addictive thinking – the thoughts behind the horrible decisions, what it was like to hit bottom, what happened when I finally found the strength to stand up. I knew at some point it might all be a distant memory, and I didn’t want to forget what it was like to be broken.
Since I started sharing my story I have been contacted by hundreds of people from all over the world. My writing has reached over 100,000 people – and although by today’s standards that isn’t much of a following, it still blows my mind that so many people can relate to what I have been through – especially after being convinced I was a degenerate for most of my life – destined to die alone.
I’ve always been a bit dramatic…
Many of those who contact me ask the same question, “You’re not going to tell anyone about this, are you?!?” and I am consistently reminded of the stigma still attached to the disease of addiction – it makes my heart hurt a little more each time. I always respond, “Of course not! It’s not my story to tell.” And I mean that! If anyone understands the importance of anonymity, it is another addict who struggled to find their voice.
I’ve also learned that my secrets kept me sick for many years. I didn’t realize that letting go of the things that were weighing me down would one day bring me the relief I had been seeking all along.
It is extremely important to me to hold other people’s secrets – the ones they have trusted me with – close to my heart. Too many people have died because they held onto theirs for too long.
When I write about the things that hurt me, it is not because I want your pity or sympathy, but because I desire serenity; to be free of the heaviest of my burdens; fear and insecurity.
I write about recovery, because it is something I am incredibly grateful for. I am enthusiastic about it. Take it or leave it – it’s who I am today.
In a world that is often cruel and unforgiving, it’s a true blessing to belong to a community who lifts each other up and encourages authenticity.
Today, I am grateful I put some words on paper. I feel a little lighter 💕