Priya’s Battle With Addiction Blog Series : Part 3 of 12
Posted by Reboot
“Why am I like this? I hate myself for doing that! What must THEY think of me? No one can know about this”
Ever since I was a child, shame came naturally to me. It was obvious to me from a very young age that the drinking and violence I regularly witnessed in my house was not normal. The other kids seemed to have a very unreal lightness around them – the pride with which they spoke of their everyday beings showed me their lives were different. The other kids always had things to talk about – happy things. Big birthday parties, picnics in the park, holidays together with the family and moments of joy – I could not relate to them, it made me feel small.
“No one could know about his drinking. No one should ever find out about the violence. It’s going to be a secret for life!” I was constantly surrounded by shame – I was different, I was not like the others, his drinking was bad and I was ashamed. One way for us to deal with his obsessive, compulsive drinking was to pretend that it wasn’t happening. I crouched into my own shell and my escape was within my head in a world that was rosy and perfect. I learned to disconnect from reality – this really helped block the pain.
As I grew up, dishonesty around my life and my feelings became second nature. His drinking became worse and my lies became blatant.
I didn’t ever feel the need to be honest – I was only protecting myself and my family. I never felt the need to face reality, I had no control over his drinking and I didn’t want to deal with it anymore.
At age 17, I had my first encounter with serious drinking. It was a university welcome party and I was just struggling to fit in. I hadn’t realized back then that through my growing years, my methods of coping with alcoholism in my house had really led me to lose my sense of self. I was once asked my favorite color by a friend and I recall taking minutes over giving an answer. This is a small example but today it shows me how far from myself I had actually gone. I didn’t realize but the gloom and doom, the shame and pity I felt over the way my life had turned out started making me very uncomfortable with myself.
Alcohol and I found a deep connection from the very first day. A glass in hand made me feel glamorous, confident, fearless and invincible. I never had to be me again, thanks to alcohol, I could choose to be anyone else but me. That’s when my journey of substance abuse began.
The more I drank, the more I lied and the more I lied, there was more to hide. In my few sober moments a day I would feel a surge of guilt about my actions, my behaviors and my thoughts but I couldn’t tell anyone about this – what would they think of me? I had become a horrible human being.
In recovery I learned I was not alone. Many like myself – victims of alcoholism at home had turned to alcohol to bail themselves out from the trauma, guilt and shame of the destruction of the disease- “We were different”. Many like myself choose to carry on – make their own rules and struggle with the consequences of crossing boundaries and breaking bad. In recovery I learned that all of this and more was not entirely my fault – I was sick- physically, mentally and emotionally. Alcohol was my master and the more I drank, the deeper this quicksand sucked me in. Alcoholism wasn’t just the disease of uncontrollable drinking- to me it was more about my warped thinking. My actions were ruled by selfishness, self-centeredness, fears and insecurity. Mostly any action taken in this diseased mind frame had disastrous repercussions that I would be ashamed of.
In recovery I also learned that there was hope – if I were to take life a day at a time and not pick up a drink I had a chance to a happy and sober life. I met a wonderful lady who had a stellar 14 years of sobriety behind her. She radiated an unreal vibe of peace, serenity and honesty. She told me I was not alone. If I wanted what she had – I had to be honest. I didn’t need to shout out my reality from the roof top but I had to be willing to trust her and follow some simple suggestions. Thanks to her I learned I didn’t have to be ashamed any more. Today I believe that I was not responsible for my disease but I am responsible for my recovery.
One way of dealing with shame for me – whenever it strikes, I accept myself the way I am and be grateful for the progress I have made in the past. Next I simply have to be honest- just confessing what I was ashamed of gave me a new found perspective of my deep rooted fears and insecurities! It is the most amazing tool- sharing my faults with the right person to free myself from any bout of shame. Today, using wiser perspectives to free myself of shame helps me heal a little more. Over time I have come to be grateful of my alcoholic journey. I don’t regret my past but I sure have learned from it. I was once told that I will always be as sick as my secrets. Today I feel my disease at bay as I have no skeletons in the closet.
The shame game for me stopped when I started to accept myself and acceptance became easier when I stopped comparing my insides with what seemed of others on the outside. I’m a work in progress- one day at a time and for this I’m grateful.
“Find out what happens next as Priya shares how her concept of God evolved over time and she was introduced to a God of her understanding”
Priya is an Addict and an Alcoholic who came into recovery at the young age of 23. She continues to work a 12 step program closely with a sponsor and has been sober for 5 years since 2011. Priya lives in New Delhi-India and has a joyous and fulfilling personal and professional life. In her free time, Priya enjoys reading, listening to music, bake and watching movies. She strongly believes that for her to keep what she has learned in recovery, she must share her experience, strength and hope with other recovering Addicts and Alcoholics.