Stark Naked, I Swear

I crashed. I hit one of those bumps in the road that I – when I was in active addiction – avoided like the plague. I.e. the sort of bump that I’ve been avoiding my entire adult life, running away and hiding from any potential friction long before it could even form aforementioned bump. When we get sober, I think some of us have this little disillusion that our lives will just magically transform and be perfect – I hear it all the time in various recovery groups: “why am I still not sleeping well? I’ve been sober for weeks!” or that we are pissed off that even though we did that horrendously scary thing and got sober, we’re still in pain! That’s so unfair! Me, me, me!!

Don’t get me wrong – sobriety DOES transform our lives, of course it does. What I’m saying is that it doesn’t make us bullet proof. We still lose our jobs. Our partners still leave us. People we love still get ill. People we love even die. Whilst this may make us bitter as we may feel we deserved better for cleverly and bravely fighting our demons, I think it’s so important to remember that what sobriety actually means is that we get a shot at being the best we can be and be best placed to not just enjoy the happy times but best placed to deal with the shitters too. And that’s where I found myself this Saturday just gone.

I ran the relaxation group again that morning. For those of you who are used to talking in front of people and/or don’t get consumed by anxiety of doing so, it really is no big deal: sit in a circle with 20 people, let everyone know what we’re doing (ten minutes of being silent, then a reading and then we share our thoughts and experiences) and just lead and moderate the discussion. For ME, this used to be unthinkable. Saturday was the second time I did this and it all unravelled. The worst thing that could happen, DID happen. I lost control of the group, couldn’t bring it back in when the discussion turned chaotic and some of the clients ceased the opportunity to wreak havoc. No, it’s not my responsibility to recover for them – my responsibility in this instance is to facilitate a relaxation group. They’re adults, for God’s sake! It’s their responsibility to take the session (and their own recovery) seriously. They didn’t and it was a disaster. Any time I opened my mouth, to steer the conversation back to what it should have been or to ask people to speak one at a time, I got sniggered at, laughed at and it just escalated. I would have felt more comfortable if I’d walked into that room stark naked, I swear.

So here I am, pulling on my big girl pants and making myself do something that actually terrifies me. And it ends up exactly in that place that has had me running from this all my life: I failed. My inner voice had a field day, lemme tell ya. Oh you useless piece of shit, look how pathetic you are! You can’t do this – what a joke! Run away and hide so no one has to be around you, you ridiculous, embarrassing and utterly despicable little bitch. Go hide. Go scratch. Pathetic! Have a drink, obliterate yourself because that’s all you deserve, you fucking failure and ridiculous excuse for a human being.

That’s right. I am actually a very kind and caring person but to myself I am often the meanest piece of shit you could possibly imagine.

I walked away from it angry. I hated each and every one of those clients in that moment. I don’t fucking go to an AA meeting and begin sniggering and being disruptive if someone shares something I personally may think is a load of shit. I respect other people and I am there to recover. By the time I left, my anger had dissolved into that old, familiar feeling – the deepest sadness and the firm belief that I’m good for absolutely fuck-all. Got home, told hubby I’d hit the wall and needed a moment all alone and in silence to just land. I sat on our bed and cried my eyes out. I allowed myself to feel all the things the situation triggered in me. It was shitty and I felt utterly destroyed. Who was I to think I’d be any good at this? Just look at it!

Well. I’m done crying about it now. I think I can now see it for what it was. I did my best with the tools I had. I learned some very useful lessons. Rio, Beethoven and the therapists all hugged me and regaled me with stories of their own, reassuring me they’d all been there and that I’d indeed been good enough. Because what this was, was a bump in the road and one of those I can’t avoid. This is part and parcel of learning and growing. Yesterday when I walked back in through those doors, I ensured my back was a little straighter and I also put a new little strategy in place: I didn’t apologise to anyone for doing my job. Or for using up oxygen by breathing. I didn’t say “excuse me, sorry to interrupt your lunch, you’re next for meds, I’m so sorry to be a pain“. I said “right, you’re next, now please“. Progress, not perfection.

I needed to hit that bump. Be in a situation I find so uncomfortable I want to crawl out of my own skin or stick my fingers into my eyeballs and swirl them around just for the fucking distraction from the pain I feel. What this showed me was this: the worst thing I thought could happen DID happen, but actually….. ….the worst that could, and did, happen was nothing. No one died. I doubt they sat around afterwards having a good old laugh at how they shot me down. Or maybe they did! So what! I’m there to support them in their recovery but I’m not fucking there to recover FOR them. So yesterday I faced them all and I don’t know if it was my straighter back or lack of needless apologies, but dare I say it – I was in charge. And part of the reason why is because I hit a bump, crashed hard but instead of running and hiding, I picked myself up and got back in the saddle. Bring it, biatches. I’m done running and hiding.

Weirdly, I’m looking forward to Wednesday morning when I’ll take that group once again. Yep. Life is life and sometimes everything will fall into our laps and sometimes life will kick our asses. But sobriety does transform us and I’m quite happy – excited, even – to walk back into a situation that last time felt like that nightmare where you’re naked and on stage and everyone points and laughs. I kid you not. Sure, it does also make me feel a little sick but this is what I want to do, it’s what I believe in and what I’m passionate about and if it’s not worth fighting for, then why bother?

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Today I’m not going to drink.

29 thoughts on “Stark Naked, I Swear

  1. Sending a big hug AND the offering next time something goes wrong ask yourself if this was happening to a friend what would I say to them? I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t even stand by and let a stranger say that to someone without stepping them out. We are so very hard on ourselves and really have to learn to be kinder. You are doing so well, there is so much too learn and you are pulling big hours in order to prove yourself. Think back to when you started, you’ve come a long way beautiful, be proud, very proud. This is not a failure in your journey this was a lesson. XOX

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love the diagram! That is one to keep front and centre.

    Sorry you’ve hit this but as you say it is to be learned from. This is what AA has taught me – am I a worthless failure? No… Could I do better, maybe… etc.

    Keep on!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is EXACTLY the kind of situation I would have run from for the rest of my life after that experience. My ego would tell me a hundred reasons not to go back, and I would listen. In fact, I’m doing it right now with finishing a memoir. Epiphany! I need to accept that the worse can happen (everyone laughing behind my back, if not outright to my face) and move forward anyway.

    Thank you for this therapeutic moment, Anna. Where do I send the check? ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I could feel each step just as you described. The internal wrath of being worthless to wanting to run and hide. But you faced it and poked it in its nose! You are a brave warrior, you bitches watch your toes! ๐Ÿ˜Š

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hug
    I taught yoga at our local recovery centre for a few years.
    About half the time it went well. Half it was ok. And sometimes it was a full on disaster.

    I completely understand where you are coming from. It is hard shit. I knew it wasnโ€™t about me, but, man, it hurts when you feel inadequate and stupid.

    These were some hard lessons and I shed many tears and I wallowed often in self pity. But they provided some amazing growth. Because I saw first had the pain and suffering of others, in all its unpleasantness. But I also occasionally glimpsed possibility and hope. And maybe I helped encourage that, even with one person. Maybe.

    It is not about you. You are not the problem. You are the solution. Itโ€™s just hard for them to see.

    Donโ€™t drink. Keep writing.
    Stillness and peace
    Anne

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I get this, too!
    When I went from kindergarten to first grade in my teaching career, the other teachers found me under my desk crying after the first day! For real!
    They helped me get through the week, and slowly and surely I figured it all out!
    Think of them as big kids!
    xo
    Wendy

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “Be in a situation I find so uncomfortable I want to crawl out of my own skin or stick my fingers into my eyeballs and swirl them around just for the fucking distraction from the pain I feel.” OH, how I relate to that! Anna I love you and your writing to pieces!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. And even if somebody had died, it was still okay and still not about you ๐Ÿ™‚ Good good good stuff with you letting the pain pour through you — you’re becoming a channel for your life. But our buttons are steaming screaming hot, aren’t they…. XO

    Liked by 1 person

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