Living the way I lived, I was bound to implode one way or another. Being in this constant conflict with myself and having a perpetual identity crisis created a perfect environment for developing some really bad coping strategies. My unmet desires to know where I was from and what the real truth was gave way to helplessness and shame and distrust. I had already been rejected by my biological own mother, so my sense of human connection was completely warped from the get-go. I managed to make friends and I married the love of my life, but it took me a long time to love accept my own self.
The constant feelings of inadequacy sent me underground emotionally. I was cut off from truth and reality, and I didn’t trust anyone to help me find it. I knew I had to do it on my own, but I had no idea how to do it on my own. In the meantime, I turned to alcohol to help me cope—and then alcohol turned on me. Where it served as a social lubricant and ways to occasionally forget my struggles, it soon became the center of my life. I worshipped it. It helped me quiet the war in my head and I no longer had to think about what I knew or didn’t know, or whom to trust and whom not to. I didn’t have to think about having been rejected—I simply couldn’t think. My mind foggy and my inhibition gone, I was a completely different person than the shamed, insecure David I had no way of protecting. I was loud and gregarious, and I developed a persona. And people gravitated towards me. Alcohol was my ticket to life, and it became my way of life.
With alcohol in my system, I didn’t have to think too deeply about all those dilemmas of my existence. Alcohol changed my reality—I went from someone whose self was defective and inadequate, someone who was unwanted and unable to relate to people to someone who was sought out by people and whom people wanted to be around. But see the irony? Deep down, I was also someone who didn’t trust the very same people and who didn’t believe in connections. I was living a lie and I was too far gone to see just how far gone I was. My reality was false, and I was false along with it.
It takes courage to face the truth. Alcohol is a funny substitute for courage. It’s fake courage. Never mind that it makes you do truly dangerous things while under its influence—driving, skiing, sailing—but it also makes you believe for those few drunken moments that you are a brave person who can face anything. What I’ve learned is that only in sobriety you learn what true courage is. For me, that was facing myself and the damage I’ve done, but also facing the damage that was done to me and feeling compassion towards that vulnerable part of myself. Only in sobriety and in recovery was I able to accept my real truth – and I was able to voice the feelings of injustice that I had over having to play the Adoption Game. Alcohol gave me false freedom, but it was sobriety that freed me from that falseness.
Photo by Darius Bashar on Unsplash.
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