by Dee Harris
It’s taken me literally a lifetime, my lifetime up to this point, to finally be comfortable in my own skin. Today I can gratefully and humbly be OK in my own skin and to love myself for who and what I am – the real me – the me who was born innocently and without human and worldly interactions 63 years ago.
Of course when I entered the real world I was immediately introduced to people who would form my life. Most enhanced my life and made it evolve and flourish; I was allowed and encouraged to mature and blossom. But something happens when entering the real world where not all people are so caring and nurturing. Some are downright mean and hateful. These people, too, would shape my life.
In school when the other kids would make fun of us, that hurts. When we feel stupid in class because we don’t know the answers, we feel shamed. When we don’t meet our parents’ expectations, we feel unworthy. When we can’t live up to our partner’s hopes in our relationship, we start to experience self-doubt. When our boss reprimands us for not pulling our weight, we feel panic.
All of these feelings create that overwhelming knot in our guts that we’re unable to abandon. These feelings and experiences, too, start to sculpt who we are today and our opinions of ourselves. And, all too often, these feelings of unworthiness start to outweigh who we really are – that innocent and unscathed child at birth who is, and always will be, an important part of who we are.
For me, when I felt the effects of alcohol that horrific knot in my gut of being the square peg trying to fit into the round hole started to diminish. I felt I fit in. I didn’t care anymore what you thought of me. I got to be the real me. But that real me came from my head and not my heart. And it was just concealing what was in my head, not truly what I thought about myself.
Fast forward a few decades. I find that I am using alcohol more and more to escape reality. And then I find that I no longer have a choice in using alcohol; I have to drink everyday. As a matter of fact, alcohol is consuming my life and life is getting in the way of my being able to drink the way I want to, or need to, which is constantly and to the point of no return…blacking out or passing out…and then doing it again and again. I find that the chapters in my life contain more and more stories of incomprehensible demoralization and that I no longer have control over my drinking but that drinking has control over me.
Where am I going with this? My story, my journey, my life has brought me full-circle back to that child who can be herself. Yes, I’m an adult now and I have responsibilities. I have learned manners and have learned how to behave in public. But I can now unlearn what I so took to heart from my experiences and relationships from my decades in this society.
You see, when I finally hit my bottom with my drinking, I got help. I was so sick and tired of living that life; I was exhausted of not only the lying and hiding, but never getting good sleep, good food or exercise. I came to in a 28-day treatment facility for alcoholism. I learned about the disease. I did what was suggested and attended AA meetings. I learned to ask for help and to be rigorously honest. I got a sponsor. I worked the Steps. And there, my friends, is where the miracles happen!
Working Step 4 (“Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”) is where I learned how fear-based I had been living my life up to that point. And, yes, it stemmed from my life experiences. I no longer have to, let those experiences shape who I am today.
It’s so freeing to be able to peel away the onion skin, one layer at a time, one day at a time, and learn that I am worthy because before getting sober I would look at my reflection in the mirror with my hand shaped like an “L” placed on my forehead and I would call myself a loser. I hated myself. I loathed myself. I was a waste of space on the planet.
But today I realize that I have gifts and that YOU have gifts. We all have defects of character, things about ourselves that we don’t like, that don’t serve us, that we can or maybe not. But those defects don’t have to determine who we are or what we think about ourselves. Let’s change them or make the best of them. OK? And let’s remember our unique gifts, those wonderful attributes that others wished they had…and let’s share those gifts.
And when we can turn our negatives into positives, our pessimism into optimism, our helplessness into hope, then we can be our real selves and know but more importantly feel that we are worthy to be on this planet and part of humanity. When we can get out of ego and live from our hearts we will know from intuition (that feeling in our guts) that tells us what’s right and what’s wrong. When we respect those feelings and take the path that serves us, we can then share what we’ve learned with others to do our best to make their journeys more palatable. Yes. We can inspire! That’s where are journeys are leading us…
Please remember “You don’t have to be what other people want you to be.” Be YOU. BeYOUtiful!
I’m so glad our paths have joined today. I look forward to hearing about your journey or any feedback you would like to share. With much aloha, Dee Harris