Got a secret, can you keep it? Swear, this one you’ll save. Better lock it in your pocket. Takin’ this one to the grave.The Pierces
When I quit drinking, being honest with people was something I basically needed to relearn. From the time I started drinking until the time I stopped, I lied about almost everything whether it had to do with drinking or not. I lied about if I was drinking, how much I was drinking, where I was, and who I was with. I lied about why I was running late and about random details of a conversation that didn’t matter. I told a lot of half truths. Part of my lying was because I felt I need to but the other part was for fun, to see if I could get away with it – and a lot of the time I did. But when I got sober, suddenly I didn’t have to lie because there was nothing to lie about.
What’s scarier than being honest with people is being honest with yourself. Looking at yourself in the mirror and acknowledging the good, the bad, and the ugly. I am a caring, good natured, compassionate human being. But, when I drank, I made a lot of choices that were careless, selfish, dangerous, and that hurt others; choices that I would not have made sober. Quitting drinking brought all of the ugly to light; I didn’t like the person I saw in the mirror. It wasn’t until I got sober that I started treating myself with care and compassion. I had to forgive myself for behavior that I was ashamed of. I had to do an extraordinary amount of introspective work on myself. Why did I make the choice to do xyz? Where did those choices stem from? What was I was actually searching for, wanting, or needing? How did I feel about myself afterwards? How do I feel about myself now? What do I want/need to change? How do I want to exist in this world?
It took a session with my therapist for me to realize that even when I wasn’t actively drinking, I never allowed my mind or body time to recover because I never went long enough without alcohol in my system. So, I basically stunted my emotional and mental growth. In general, I have always been mature for my age and I’m definitely an old soul. When I was around five years old, I wanted a Buddy Holly CD for Christmas and my favorite shows included I Love Lucy, Happy Days, and Laverne and Shirley. I’ve found it difficult to relate to people my age and I’ve always had friendships and relationships with people much older than me. Despite my maturity, alcohol fostered a hidden immaturity that would reveal itself when I drank.
I was very reactionary. If something didn’t immediately go the way I wanted I would get upset and become an alarmist. Well! The whole night is ruined! This sucks! What are we going to do now?! If someone wasn’t treating me the way I wanted them to, I would act out. Fine! Screw him! I’ll just go where I’m appreciated! The hell with her! She’s just jealous and ruining the night! I’ll go hang out with people who actually want to have fun! In general, I reacted to unpleasant situations in a childish manner.
It took about three months until I started truly noticing the emotional and mental shifts. In many ways, I was a “dry drunk” – behaving and reacting in a way similar to when I was actively drinking and it took me a while to change. Now, I’m more patient, more understanding, and more flexible with changing circumstances. I’m not as jealous in relationships, I am more trusting, and I am able to view life in the long term instead of focusing on instant gratification. I am growing and maturing everyday. My tolerance for drama, unnecessary suffering, and immature behavior is non-existent. I am happy and proud of the choices I make and of myself as a person. More than that, I am comfortable with myself and in my own skin. I genuinely like who I am and am looking forward to who I will become. Life without lying is peaceful. Life with self-awareness yields possibility and life without alcohol is living.