Your Wreck < Your Worth

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During my recovery, I discovered a lot about forgiveness. I learned that sometimes you have to pardon someone, even if their actions do not warrant your forgiveness. I learned that you can wait your entire life for an apology that may never come. And most importantly, I learned that you must forgive yourself in order to let go and move on from the past. 

With the stories I have given you thus far, you can probably tell I was not always sympathetic to other people’s feelings while I was drinking. I said and did some extremely hurtful things that took me a LONG time to forgive myself for. And while I don’t regret going through any of the lows to get to my current highs, I do wish I had not hurt people in the process. 

I wrote a letter in my first month of sobriety that was full of this pent-up guilt that I wanted to release. I see now, more than anything, I wanted to forgive MYSELF.

Dear Victim,

I could start with “I am sorry” but you and I both know I have wasted apologies on you before. Those words have escaped my heavy, drunken, tongue or dry, hung-over, lips countless times. I know my anger left you in the path of debris. I promise I see you in the wreckage, and I hate myself for it. I’m not myself when I drink…but that girl, she is slowly fading, and I am replacing her with the woman I am meant to be. We learn from a young age that actions speak louder than words, and at this point, my actions are all I have left. My words may be shot to hell, but I am ready to prove to everyone, including myself, that I can get back to a place of being whole. I hope to have a conversation with you a year from now and show you I am never going to be reckless with your heart again. There is a possibility that I could lose you. And for that, I will not hold a grudge. Instead, I will remember you as a part of me. You are a piece of my story that has now propelled me into the greatest adventure of my life. If you choose to stay, thank you for not allowing my wreck to define my worth. Your support shows me that I am not only worthy of love, but also forgiveness. Now, one last time, with the greatest sincerity, I AM sorry. I am sorry for the hurt I caused you. I will spend the rest of my life trying to become the opposite of the hate I held so close to my heart.

Love,

Courtney

Full disclosure, it made me upset to write about the possibility I could lose friends because of this decision to better my life. That seemed so backwards to me! If anything, wouldn’t people want me around more now that I wasn’t a mess? Wouldn’t they want to support me?

However, I quickly learned that the majority of those friendships were fueled by the drama that came along with drinking. The very thing I was feeling guilty and seeking forgiveness for was what they thrived on. Not that hurting people is excusable, but once I realized being a “victim” was part of the appeal for those people, I knew my life was better without them and it was easier to forgive myself.

The good news is, the RIGHT people do want to be around. In fact, my circle has grown since I became alcohol-free. I value my current relationships so much more because they ARE real. They are either people I have met since becoming sober, who see me in all my awkward glory, or they are the individuals who chose to forgive and love me regardless of the past.

I think it’s pretty cool that a lot of my closest friends have never seen me intoxicated. And if all goes as planned, my future children will never witness me drunk – and that makes me OVER THE MOON HAPPY!

The sober path can mean giving up a lot, but don’t for a second think you are not worthy of all good things you WILL GAIN. Like me, you may have done some severely sketchy things but that can all be forgiven once you accept that your past doesn’t define your future. Remember to be forgiving of others, but also yourself.

Forgiveness is one of the highest expressions of love, and it is a gift we give ourselves. 

Stevie Nicks told me I had a problem

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In my introduction post, I said I was tired of the highs and lows of drinking, so I made a change. I might have made that sound a little, or A LOT, easier than it actually was. My slow crawl to becoming alcohol-free started Spring of 2014. My actual sober date is March 8, 2015. The path to sobriety is NOT always linear. 

When I was 26 years old, I was lost. It was one of those “old enough to know better, too young to care” phases for me. Despite looking like a responsible semi-adult, having two jobs, a mortgage and a heck of a lot of potential, I had unresolved issues I had been running from for way too long. That, mixed with an unhealthy dose of societal pressure, made me feel like a big failure.

I was going out to bars a few times a week but drinking almost nightly. My drinking was the only thing I THOUGHT I could control. This behavior was different from my nights out in college though. Don’t get me wrong, alcohol and I have never played well together, but this type of drinking was with the clear intention of shutting off my brain. It was my necessary evil – the perfect formula to numb my self-awareness and more importantly, diffuse the self-hatred and anxiety (temporarily.)

Typical Night: Meet a friend for happy hour (hammered), go to a pool hall (sketchy), play Van Morrison on the jukebox (amazing), cry on the bar (alone), drive myself home (dumb), pass out in my driveway (hanging halfway out of my car.)

I know…if you’re a normal human being, you’re probably thinking that a lot of awful things could have happened to me, but I didn’t care. I’m pretty sure “I don’t give a f*ck” was my catch phrase back then. I felt like the world was out to get me, and that notion alone, gave me a pass to be this wreck of a girl behind closed doors. It’s kind of scary how good I was at keeping it together considering I was so broken and SO angry on the inside. I was a functioning alcoholic with years of resentment to fuel the fire.

After about 6 months of this binge drinking, pity party, I took a small step towards change. I realized this deep rooted anger wasn’t magically going to fade away, so I contacted a therapist. “WOW, what a relief! I googled AND emailed a therapist!” (I didn’t go see her for another 2 months.)

I’m not entirely sure why it was so tough to take that step. It may have been the fear of giving up control or that deep down I knew I was capable of becoming a better version of myself and I was scared to meet her. Either way, I didn’t want that kind of accountability. What if I was “fixed” and still not truly “happy?” It seemed like a lot more work than pouring myself a glass of wine or a shot of whiskey.

Needless to say, I was nervous about therapy. I knew it was going to hurt. I knew it was going to be uncomfortable. I knew it was going to uncover years of resentment I had worked so hard to repress. But, of course, I knew EVERYTHING then.

During the first visit, I totally had my walls up. All I could focus on was how much my therapist looked like Stevie Nicks. I kept waiting for her to compare my problems to lyrics from Landslide or at the very least, break for a badass wardrobe change during our session.

After a few meetings, I finally allowed myself to experience A LOT of feelings I had been avoiding, all of the emotions that alcohol could never absorb. Stevie (we’ll just call her that) was the first person to warn me that I was going down a dangerous path with my drinking. And although I valued Stevie’s expert opinion, my non-drinking stint only lasted 4 months before I reminded myself I knew EVERYTHING. 

I was under the impression that without so much of my previous anger and resentment, alcohol could not possibly have a negative impact on me anymore. I thought since I had a grasp on my inner demons I could drink in moderation. FALSE! Unfortunately, that is not how it worked for me.

Although my sobriety did not last the first go-round, I knew I had it in me to try again once I was ready. I want you to know that a step in the right direction will always be better than living behind the fear of change.

I’m forever grateful for therapy and Stevie’s advice. Her genuine concern started my journey, but I wasn’t ready to fully trust the process for myself. It wasn’t until I wanted to fight, every single day, for a more positive lifestyle, that sobriety was even a possibility for me.

As for me being a know-it-all, I think Socrates said it best, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.”

*Things that have worked for me may not be the solution for you. Please remember that everyone is different and there is always more than one way to do something effectively. I don’t want anyone to think what has worked for me is one-size fits all. Feel free to comment with any questions you have!