No matter how long I’ve been sober there are a few things that I learned in early recovery that still hold true today, even 18 years later.
The first and one of the most basic lessons I learned was to just show up.
Early in recovery when I would whine and complain about some commitment a fellow 12 stepper would often repeat this line to me “Suit up and Show up” I wanted to smack him. It felt like such a benign and trite statement; but I would stick out my tongue and show up anyway.
No matter how much fear or uncertainty I might be feeling, the ability to just show up has more often than not proved better then hiding under the covers. Cause many days I still want to hide. I want to hide under the covers, in the cave of dark and dangerous thoughts. Curling up in self pity and wallowing in the awfulness that is me is like holding a childhood blanket; all soft, cozy and cuddly…..40 years ago! Now it’s all scratchy, holey, all balled up and reeks.
I run over and over again all the mistakes I have ever made from the time I was in elementary school and didn’t hand in the assignment on time, to the failed marriage and the abusive family.
I would never let anyone know that this is the current committee meeting going on in my head. It’s still very comfortable for me there. I don’t want to get out, because if I do I might have to actually do something and take a risk and probably fail and you would see what an awful human being I am.
Along with my substance abuse issues, I have depression and anxiety which both stem from PTSD. The drinking curbed a lot of that for years; and I thought once I put down the drink, perhaps the rest of that mess would eventually disappear. But guess what it hasn’t! I have worked hard at maintaining my sobriety, but I’ll admit it’s been close at times over the years.
The drinking was my solution and it worked, for about 10 years; from my early teens to my late 20’s. I drank all that fear away and just ran through those 10 years destroying lots of opportunities and relationships.
Here I am now, about 18 years later, and still fighting those old thoughts. But I got up today, and went to a job I no longer feel invested in but I showed up. I haven’t always done that. Even in sobriety I have left jobs because of my inability to manage how I react to seemingly normal events in the work place.
What I’ve recently come to realize is that I have PTSD. I kind of knew this was an issue, but thought I had it under control. But now, I’m not quite so certain. The reality is people really piss me off. I get angered easily by the judgement and opinions of people who lack understanding of those who are marginalized. I read yesterday about a judge in Ohio who had served less than 6 months in prison for beating his wife in front of his children, who now he is in custody and charged for shooting and killing her. I became furious. In our local paper they claimed welfare bums just don’t want to work and I was ready to throw my full coffee cup at the wall. I wept and sobbed to read that yet another Indigenous woman has gone missing. Who wouldn’t want to hide from all that suffering in the world? I do. It hurts me, and I don’t know yet how to manage it.
So I tried to work in the social services field; to funnel my rage and indignant frustration to helping people. But then I get frustrated at systems that say they’re there to help and support these marginalised people but when I observe how they are no better, but are rather just set up to keep the well-meaning social worker’s in their jobs. As the workers and the administration are often as messed up as the people they’re trying to help, but have better paying jobs, and a ton more privilege.
So I don’t know what to do about any of it…except keep showing up.
I’m also trying to show up in new places too. This is very scary for me as I’m certain people are judging me constantly; and I hate that. I’m hoping, that if I keep showing up the judgements will have less and less of a hold on me. But we will see…I’ll be honest, I don’t have a ton of hope.
So here I am, trying another place to just show up--- The Fix Blog. Please don’t judge me too harshly
BY - Lindsay Wilkerson
Email: [email protected]