I always had this picture inside my head of how life would be in sobriety; this idyllic vision of having it all together. I imagined no more struggle, heartbreak, fear, or insecurity. I would be powerful and brave; an amazing example of how recovery changes lives. I would be everything I had always dreamed of being.
I was wrong.
Every day I wake up with uncertainty. Every day, I face the reality that I can’t be someone I don’t know how to be. Every day I am faced with the knowledge that sobriety isn’t a magical fix for the real issue underneath it all.
Don’t get me wrong, I have moments where I do live this beautiful dream, but the moments don’t add up to much more than an inspirational post or a bit of brilliant advice for a friend. There there are SO MANY hours in a day.
The truth is, I want to hide behind those beautiful moments. I want to pretend that I’m ok, and what I project on paper is real for me all the time.
The problem is, I can’t do that if I want to get better. I can’t wrap myself up in fleeting moments and pretend that I have it all together while, on the inside, I have no idea.
I’m scared and I don’t know what to do with how I feel.
It’s important for me to say that I’m filled with a sick sense of dread as I sit here and write this. I don’t want to write this. I don’t want you to know I’m not perfect. However, if I only did the things I want to, I wouldn’t have made the progress I’ve made; and I have made progress. What I haven’t done is be completely honest about where I am in life.
I haven’t been sober that long in the big scheme of things. To me, 19 months is a damn miracle, but it isn’t much time; especially since it took me 35 years to get it. I have yet to accept myself and who I have become; someone that baffles me. There are times that the only thing I can do is cry in frustrated disbelief. Taking a drink isn’t an option. I am so angry to be who I am. I am so angry that change just isn’t a simple thing for me. I am so damn angry that I can’t just morph into this idea I have inside my head of who I should be. And underneath ALL that anger and rage, is fear. Fear that I’m really not worth a good life. God, that scares me so bad.
If that’s the truth, what the hell am I doing? If all the fears I harbor inside my head and heart are true, then what the fuck is the point?
I live with this shit every day. During the happy moments, where I can escape the constant litany of reasons why I am such a failure, not worth a good life, and undeserving of good feelings, I use them to inspire others. Personally, I need inspiration like a cancer patient needs chemo. I need real, deep and desperate HOPE, that fighting this disease, that living life in sobriety, isn’t all about the struggle.
So who is the REAL Shanna?
I am someone that struggles. I am someone who has so many fears they literally take my breath away at times. I am someone that fights constantly between giving up and holding on. I go from day to day mired in unrealistic expectations that constantly shatter and leave me feeling broken. I’m someone that can take her clothes off and be naked for someone, but never share my naked soul because it will leave me too vulnerable. I’m someone that wants to be so beautiful on the outside that no one will take too close a look at what is missing on the inside. I’m someone that wants to be loved because I don’t love myself. I want to be YOUR dream come true, because I can’t be mine.
I have all these broken pieces and can’t figure out the right way to make them fit.
I am so uncomfortable with who and how I am, and the dream of who I want to be keeps me going more than anything. I want so badly, so incredibly BADLY to be ok, but the truth is I’m not; SO much of the time. The reality is far more difficult to accept than the moments I share with you, so I write my moments. For each of those short amounts of time, I don’t have to face my struggle, and no one else gets to see what’s behind them…except you.
This post originally appeared on SoberMommies in May 2014.