Podcasts have been my constant companion over the past seven-plus months, to the point where I consider some of my favorite hosts (shouts to the ladies from “The Bubble Hour” and the kids from “Binge Mode: Game of Thrones”!) my close friends. That might sound pathetic, but it’s no more embarrassing than anything else I’ve admitted on this blog, so what the hell do I care?
At this point, the cards are on the table, the warts are on full display, the soul is bared, and so on. If you read this blog, God bless you, you pretty much know my life story.
I was beyond honored to tell that story — or at least the broad strokes of it; thank goodness the hostesses kept me on track and off my usual trail of endless tangents — on an actual podcast this past week. You can listen to it here. “Transformation Thursday” is the creation of two transgender women, one of whom I know from blogging days past, and it’s a celebration of change. While the changes I’ve undergone since getting sober 223 days ago might not be as significant as that of Penny and Amy, what we have in common at our core is that we are all striving to live life as our authentic selves.
While I’ve always considered myself a genuine person — for better and worse — and indeed, my defining characteristic has always been a heart planted firmly on my sleeve, you just can’t claim complete authenticity when you’re in the throes of addiction. How can you even know who you are, when you spent your entire adulthood thinking you needed alcohol to handle every social interaction? How can you know what’s real when you spent 20 years escaping — in some cases obliterating — reality, every single chance you got?
All I can tell you for sure is, I think the freedom to be “The Real You” is perhaps life’s greatest gift. I feel incredibly fortunate to have that privilege.
I also really respect and admire others who pursue that freedom, no matter the cost. It takes courage to go your own way in a world where you’re constantly told to fit in, or “fake it ’til you make it.” You have to be strong and resilient to take other people’s judgment, ridicule — and sometimes outward cruelty — in stride. You have to hold on tight to faith, hope, and the belief that you’re on the right path, even when the outside world tries to tell you differently.
Of course, every individual situation is different. In my case, I don’t feel particularly brave or strong, and my faith and hope hasn’t really been tested all that much in my recovery journey — at least not yet. Sharing my deepest thoughts in a public forum comes naturally to me, having worked as a newspaper columnist and blogger, and even an on-camera pundit for a little while (RIP, “Game On.” 😒) I’ve dealt with some unsavory commentary on social media in the past, but who hasn’t? It’s the nature of the beast.
While some in the recovery community would say, and actually have said to me, that broadcasting my story all over the internet with my name and picture attached to it is breaking the rules…well, in addition to the 223 hashmarks on my whiteboard that I attribute, in part, to writing this blog every week, I’d like to show those people the tear-jerking emails I’ve received from readers in response to a few past posts.
“Coming out” as a recovering alcoholic has yielded infinitely more good than bad. In fact, I’ve had to pay very few social consequences. My husband and family are overjoyed, my employer is supportive, and the worst that’s happened is I don’t get invited to work Happy Hours that I don’t want to go to, anyway.
Whether or not that last part has to do with being sober, or just unpopular, doesn’t matter. In fact, I’ve started asking myself an important question whenever I get too sensitive or my fragile feelings get bruised by this perceived slight or that negative interaction, or anything happens that I used to drink to alleviate.
I ask, “Does this matter?”
The answer is always “no.”
Nothing in the world matters, except my sobriety and my family, and I’m pleased to report that while there is always room for improvement, both of those things are doing just fine.
I know there are plenty of people out there trying to live their truth who don’t have it so easy. People who decide that authenticity is more important than popularity have always been my heroes (*stands up and salutes*).
So, while I continue to figure out who I really am — and accept that person for who she is — I also have to learn to be more accepting of others. Confronting my own issues and atoning for my own mistakes leads to the realization that everyone has issues and everyone makes mistakes, and why should I sit here and pass judgment on them when I still need to clean up my side of the street?
Of course, I still judge — myself and others — still get irritated and agitated over daily bullshit, still get my feelings hurt like a thin-skinned little child, every now and then. But every time I ask myself that important question, I get a little closer to a very important truth and, by extension, to a greater degree of freedom from addiction.
“Does This Matter?” Not unless I want it to!