Tuesday, August 12, 2014

I am what you are.

Before I became unwell enough to surrender to a 12-step program, I spent much of my time hiding my panic disorder and addiction from myself and others. In order to believe this gigantic lie, I had to spin isolating stories about how DIFFERENT I was from everyone else. Remarkably, as my behavior became less admirable, my self-talk became more convincing. 

They don't know what they're talking about.
They can't see the real you.
If they knew, they wouldn't understand.

I would take a bunch of anti-anxiety medication in the morning and bookend my day with a bottle of wine or its whiskey equivalent. In between those two rituals of need,  I would carry on what might pass as a normal human walking through a normal day. Parenting, partnering, working. It is astonishing how long one can hide their true self.

I am lucky. For 16 and a half years, I have had the gift of constant sobriety. Even though my dreams tell me otherwise, where I have been drinking and act like it is no big deal, I never turned back. Yet I continued to struggle with panic attacks up until recently when I finally, upon the advice of my doctor, tried out an anti-depressant for a sense of malaise I couldn't shake. It was as though my head was underwater. I had the feeling I would never by happy again. Was it grief? Was it hormones? Was it the depression my mother experienced most of her life until she died? The depression I loathed? 

I don't know. But I feel better. 

What "better" means to me is that I nurture relationships and moments when I can be present to listening to the true lives of others. Not the part of ourselves that is driven by new social media and business concerns to "brand" our personae and our lives in order to be successful. But the part that is vulnerable, hurting, needing to be seen, needing to heard, needing to just be truthful about how challenging life can be, regardless of your age, race, gender or social status.

When I am better, I feed better things. I feed the True Body Project. I feed my relationships. I feed the truth.

The truth of me is complicated, as is the truth of you. I am a writer. I am accomplished. I am successful in many regards. I am also a recovering addict. I am somewhere on the mood disorder spectrum. I can isolate myself and tell myself stories that are not true.

We need to see and hear each other's complexity. Otherwise, we can isolate ourselves into an eternal loneliness, the final despair.

As Mary Oliver says, "Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine." What I know from my True Body work is that in this same space of honesty lies all of the rest of our truth: our hope, our strength, our humanity, our light.

Let's find each other soon and tell each other our stories.