I live with ghosts, and have done so most of my life. With time, they have grown quieter and I have learned to ignore them better when they do pop up again. It hasn’t always been this way though. Their haunting used to be loud and non-stop. A virtual hamster wheel of haunting that would spin faster and faster and louder and louder until the only option was to do something drastic to make them stop. They would quiet for a time, but slowly ramp up again until drastic measures were once again necessary.
Drastic measures come in many forms. Drinking, drugging, gambling, shopping, one-night stands, eating, starving, exercising, staying in bed for days, self-injury…anything used in excess to be destructive and to not feel the feelings the ghosts were stirring up. Feelings were unacceptable. They hurt. They left me with a crushing sense of dis-ease. I spent years wanting to crawl out of my own skin.
Then I found recovery. I got involved. I listened to people I didn’t know, tell me things I didn’t like, to try to live a life I didn’t know if I even wanted. People who admittedly couldn’t run their OWN lives, but were more than willing to jump in and run mine. Who the hell did they think they were, anyway? They didn’t KNOW me. They didn’t know ME. I was different. My problems were worse. If they only knew, then they’d UNDERSTAND why I did the things I did. If they only knew what I had been through, they’d congratulate me on fighting the good fight and pour me a drink as a reward for hanging in there.
Yeah…that didn’t happen. I’m so grateful that didn’t happen. If it had, I wouldn’t be here today writing this blog. If I wasn’t dead, I’d wish I was.
I learned acceptance of where I was at. I learned that while being victimized WASN’T my fault, playing the victim WAS. I learned that although some people had treated me horribly, I had ALLOWED it to happen. I taught people how to treat me. I read the line, “…and so we found that our troubles were of our own making”. Damn it. I had to learn responsibility; responsibility for MY actions and reactions. That was a real buzzkill. The cool part was that I also got to learn that I WASN’T as unique as I thought I was. Yeah, I lived through a lot of bad shit, but so did a lot of other people. I learned that I was no better, and no worse, than anybody else. I learned that the people I was now surrounding myself with were sober and functioning in society, and many of them were even *gasp* HAPPY! Imagine the hell out of that one. I learned about hope. That is probably the most important thing I get from sobriety. HOPE. Hope that today will turn out ok, and that tomorrow will happen and I will get through that too because I don’t have to do it alone anymore. I have a supportive network of people in my life. Some sober, some not. I have weeded out the toxic people and surround myself with the winners…or at least the ones that are trying like hell to be winners. Today when the ghosts creep up on me, I can acknowledge that they are there, feel the feelings, and go on with my life.
Choose hope, you guys. It’s SO much better than the alternative.