It was such a relief to discover that I wasn’t alone and that I was understood. I wasn’t the only person to feel the way I felt. I wasn’t unique and many others had lived my life and had found the support they needed to feel whole. Yes, I felt relief but was I ready to listen, to learn, to heal and to change?
I went into treatment for alcoholism and depression in 2007 and I truly felt as if I was the only person who had ever been through what I had experienced in my life and that no one would or could possibly understand me. I expected to be loathed and shamed. I cried when none of this happened. I discovered that I was completely understood and that it didn’t matter that my experiences and circumstances were different from the other women in the room. The common denominator of underlying emotions, feelings and patterns of thinking were practically the same.
Those moments in early recovery opened my eyes and my heart and the feelings of shared experience allowed the walls I had built to crumble, leaving me exposed and vulnerable. I’m so grateful that I wasn’t alone then. I had people surrounding me who understood what I was going through even before I did. They were ready with the right words, or even no words at all – just their obvious understanding and willingness to be with me and offer words of wisdom when I asked for their help.
My heart sank when I realized that my alcohol consumption had only been a symptom of much larger problems. In order to be the person I wanted to be, I would have to look at all of the behaviors and mindsets that were practically part of my DNA – perfectionism, lack of boundaries, no self-respect, low self-esteem, feelings of unworthiness, co-dependency and shame. These patterns had been learned in childhood and had become useful tools for self-preservation but as an adult they only set me up for isolation, anger, frustration, depression and alcoholism.
There are two sides to the coin of discovery – exhilaration, promise and hope on one side with fear, retreat, denial and consignment on the other. Discovery poses two questions – will you have the humility to be honest with yourself and others, to listen and to learn and will you allow others to help you find your way?
If you want to ask some questions of your own, contact me. We can talk and I might be able to help you see where you are in your amazing process of change.