As I am writing this, I am practicing the breathing techniques I learned so many times in my graduate social work program. In through your nose, out through your mouth, and again, and again. I’m also using the method of placing my right hand over my heart but none of it seems to be working. My heart rate is up, my breathing is shallow, my chest feels so heavy. I wouldn’t say these are panic attacks but they are damn near close and I’ve been having these ‘episodes’ if you will since somewhere in the middle of the madness of grad school. Drinking used to help with that, or so I thought. But now I am a recovering alcoholic 3 weeks into this terrifying, exhilarating, empowering journey. I never knew admitting I was powerless over alcohol would give me the strength that I needed to overcome such an insidious addiction.
So yes this narrative is two-fold. Actually far more than that, because in addition to the anxiety and the alcoholism that have been plaguing my life, is potentially undiagnosed and un-medicated bipolar II, along with body dysmorphia and OCD. All of which are gracious gifts directly passed down through my genetics and inadvertently from neglect of a primary caregiver.
The amount of pain, shame, and confusion that these different illnesses have brought upon me and to those I love, is staggering. I never meant to hurt anyone, but yet as I sit in the rooms of AA, I can’t help but think of all the people that have been negatively impacted in one way or another from my alcoholism and other character deficits; deficits I maybe could’ve started working on ten years ago but I was in a 13-year denial, where I could swear to you alcohol would solve all of these problems and then some.
I know now more than ever, though, that I have to focus on getting myself well. Guilt and shame have no place in my recovery at this time. I am going to AA meetings, I am seeking out a sponsor, I have been seeing my old therapist, drawing boundaries in toxic relationships, and for the first time in my life, now that I’ve discontinued drinking, I am considering seeing a psychiatrist to discuss medication therapies that may be helpful during this inextricably painful growth period of my life.
Also for the very first time, I am experiencing tremendous pain and NOT turning to alcohol. I am freeing myself of this thing that I’ve failed countless times to control. And I am doing this, for the first time, by surrendering myself to my higher power. I’m letting my spirituality take the lead from here on out, and trusting in the process; that what is meant to be, will be.
I feel free.
And as a brand new MSW, I look forward to embracing this path of self-discovery so that I can offer that much more understanding, guidance, and stability to those in need of my services.
Thank you for giving me a safe space to share.
Lexi, we are in awe of you and want to sincerely thank you so much for sharing your story. It takes so much bravery to be able to look at and reflect on the things that hurt us most, or that we are most ashamed of. And yet, it is the most important, most courageous step anyone could take. Not to mention the amount of strength, resiliency, and beauty you possess. The fact that you are aware of your genetics and your triggers already says so much about your insight and where you’re moving toward. You’re not alone. We’re SO glad you found us- we’re with you on this journey! Please keep letting us know how you’re doing- we’d love to continue supporting you :) Love, Natasha & Kristen
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