While I was in active addiction, I became so skilled at becoming a chameleon. Since I had no image of my own inner self, I adopted the likes, dislikes, hobbies, and goals of others. Whoever was partying became “my people” and I learned how to slide in. I became a collective of twenty different “Hillarys.” One night I would have on Adidas shell toes, gray sweats, a beater, giant hoop earrings, fake curly hair in a huge over-gelled bun on top of my head and a bandana headband. I would drink Goldschlager and listen to Eminem. The next night I had on ripped jeans, a studded belt, black tee, and a pair of Saucony’s while I was shotgunning PBR’s at a Papa Roach concert. If you understand both those fashion references you may have been a chameleon too. My point is – I am awesome at being who YOU want me to be.
But who the hell is Hillary? What is her purpose on this earth?
I got sober and had NO idea.
So much like with all the other experiences I have had in recovery, I had to start from scratch. But how do you find out who you are?!
In early sobriety, I had plenty of ideas of what “finding yourself” looked like. A few of them involved dropping acid, sweat lodges, yoga, putting healing crystals into your vagina, meditation, and a whole bunch of other “weird” stuff that I had no interest in.
For many years I lived in such a constant state of fear that I only knew how to conceal. My defense mechanism was to allow you to know as little about me as possible. If you didn’t know the real me – you couldn’t hurt me. I was creating exceedingly high emotional walls leading me to become a stranger to even myself. I had lost all hope. And without hope, I forgot how to dream.
I had always been a “do-er.” I make mistakes–I fix them–and I learn a little about myself each time. This carried over into recovery. I needed time to heal and learn some basic adulting before I was ready to really look at the soul within. I needed to learn to love the small part of myself that I did know. I needed to create environments in my life that felt safe where I could foster that self-love.
I had to learn what I liked and didn’t like. I did some wacky things. I have had not only blonde hair but pink and blue (twice!). I went on a meditation retreat (which I enjoyed by the way.) I got tattoos. I jumped off of a quarry. I got into relationships – and I got OUT of relationships. I do own some healing crystals – although they have never made it into my lady bits (the vagina crystals are called Yoni Eggs if you are interested–no shame.)
I tried things. Some I enjoyed and some I did not. I learned how to discern and that it is perfectly acceptable to say, “No thank you. I really don’t have any interest in that.” I also discovered maybe I’m really not a huge fan of Lil Wayne. I like to drink tea and chill out and listen to Sara Bareilles. That’s cool too.
So – how am I learning today.
I take time to set goals. I sit and think about what I really want. I honor those feelings. I believe that I am capable of achieving anything that I feel a calling for. I take baby steps and I show myself compassion if I have setbacks.
I listen to my gut. You know what I am talking about. That physical reaction that we all get when we know we are not 100% invested or comfortable in what we are doing. I trust that physical reaction today.
I continue to try new “weird” things. If someone asks me to try something that I think might be moderately interesting, even if it feels awkward, I do it anyways. I go at it with the mindset that “the worst that can happen is I won’t like it and I won’t have to do it again.”
I believe that my most important discovery is that I am forever a work in progress. I am always growing and changing and evolving. I plan to continue to reach outside my comfort zone.
I plan to continue to live my life – as if there is no ceiling.