For most of my life I’ve been whom I thought people would like. Everything about me, from the color of my hair to the clothes I wore to the way I partied was done in the “socially acceptable” fashion.
But last night I was sitting at a Young Peoples’ Alcoholics Anonymous?meeting, underneath a single fluorescent light on the porch of a church, with cool wind blowing in from the ocean. I looked out at the many faces I knew well and had spent all day with, and some new ones I did not recognize. I was trembling and had butterflies, which surprised me, because I’ve done a lot of public speaking from elementary school all the way into university. But I found out last night there’s a huge difference between reading a planned speech about a pre-picked topic and sharing, completely honestly, about the parts of my life that I’ve never shown anyone.
My voice shook from the first word, which embarrassed me, but I continued with my tale anyway. I honestly didn’t know where to begin, and the thing I’ve learned is that my shares at meetings aren’t something I can plan out in the least. Even if I try to, the words disappear the second I say, “Hi, my name’s Katherine, and I’m an alcoholic.” What comes out after that introductory sentence is all up to my Higher Power.
All the women that I live with came to the meeting last night when I told my story. Every time I looked up and saw their beautiful, kind faces I would start to cry. I swear I could feel their love and understanding comforting me. I could feel unconditional understanding and patient listening from everyone present, and it was the most magical ten minutes of my life, because I’ve never been able to talk about my most inner emotions and have people really hear me.
I can think of so many times during my teenage years, me crying and my dad walking away from me, stone-faced, unable to deal with his pain and mine. Or I would run away from him, sobbing, unable to handle the disappointment in my dad’s face when I “failed” once again.
Through my life experiences and by watching my parents, I eventually learned to keep my tears and emotions inside. Showing sadness and trouble was considered a weakness, and I have lived with a deep shame my entire life, especially when I would feel strong emotions. If I was angry I would be so mean to myself, thinking, “I shouldn’t be angry!” Or I would justify it and blame the other person entirely. If I was depressed I would do anything not to show it, like chain smoking, constantly hanging out with friends and drinking and doing drugs. I did anything to take me out of my body, out of my mind, and out of my past that seemed too ugly and bitter to bear.
But when I was telling my story at the meeting, for some reason this time I couldn’t keep my tears in. All the love and understanding blasted through the walls that I have spent years building up around me. I wasn’t crying because I was sad, not at all! I was crying because no one got up from their seats and left, no one ignored me, or put me down, or ridiculed me, or told me to leave, or told me I was wrong, or told me I wasn’t doing it right… I cried because I was so happy and so grateful for the life and people that sobriety and recovery has given me. Three years ago I couldn’t have fathomed the sweetness and beauty that I have now…that I deserve.
What more can I say? I want to share this Fellowship and these 12 magical Steps with everyone! I have a solution to every problem, two books that have specific guides to freedom, a Higher Power that has a grand life waiting for me every day when I wake up… and hundreds, thousands, millions of people all around the world that understand where I’ve been and what I’ve done, and love me anyway.
If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.