Sharing Secrets

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by steve319, Oct 18, 2005.

  1. steve319

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    I’ve got a story to share with my LPSG family, and I hope it’s one that reminds you all of the positive change that the joint efforts of the people at this wonderful corner of the web can help bring about.

    Grab a soda---this is a bit long.

    One of the reasons I hang around here is as a personal experiment in openness. I’ve always been notoriously secretive—jovial, compassionate, and giving but also very good at keeping a lot of myself hidden from view. Growing up in an alcoholic family taught me a number of behaviors like that, so having a public persona that concealed the reality of things was a natural way of life for us. This ability to compartmentalize my life (work, family, friends, school, relationships) has spared me having to explain myself now and then but has sabotaged my ability to develop true, lasting, deep relationships, particularly romantic ones. This year, however, I’m making a change. ;)

    In my time here at LPSG, I’ve struggled to be completely honest and candid, even when it has made me feel incredibly exposed to do so, and while there have certainly been times I’ve felt betrayed or judged over it, the overall experience has been positive, giving me the strength to begin tearing down some of those walls in my personal life. I’ve posted things here that no one else in my life knows about, and while that’s been immensely uncomfortable for me, it has also been exhilarating, and that has allowed me to starting a process for positive change in my personal life as well. For example, in recent weeks I had been playing with the idea of telling a close family member about my struggle with alcoholism.

    (A couple of my friends here have already heard this story and the support and encouragement I received from them has made the journey easier for me. Thanks guys! :hug:)

    My niece and I have always been close. I was a late arrival to the family, and so I grew up with my nephews and nieces (some of whom are older than I) as my peer group--they are more like my siblings than my actual brothers and sister are. This niece and I are close in age and have always shared a lot in common, including a regular commiseration over the devastation that alcoholism has wrought in our family tree. Her father (my brother) and her two siblings are all nearly lost to it, so it is of particular significance in her daily life. Yet, with all we’ve shared and all that we know of one another that others do not, she had no idea that I was nearly swallowed up by alcohol abuse myself several years back (almost 17 years sober now).

    One big reason why I’ve considered sharing my own recovery process with her is that she has had a particularly terrible year and could potentially benefit from knowing that we all have our moments when we need help. She suffered a miscarriage this summer, and it has really thrown her for a loop. Looking for ways to blame herself, she’s wondering if she did something wrong or could have prevented it and is now dealing with panic attacks and is on medication to control them. She has begun seeing a psychiatrist to try to begin dealing with the problem and she’s just terrified. She tries to defuse her worries by joking that she’s “crazy” but I think that does more harm than good. At any rate, I thought it might do her good to know that even the “strongest” among us can (and have) benefited from the help of a counselor, so I resolved to tell her my tale.

    We’d set up to have lunch together and I was going to tell her then, but she had a flat tire at work, suffered another panic attack, and had to go home to bed. (Taking a scary peek here into the Paranoid Mind of Steve—yes, I know it’s silly, but my mind immediately leapt to the feeling that I’d already been “judged” and rejected, even before I’d unveiled the terrible truth—that somehow she had known what I was going to say and was discarding me for being flawed. Logically, I knew better, but that feeling was hard to dismiss for a few minutes.) So we rescheduled for the weekend as I struggled not to chicken out.

    We went for a long walk and shared the whole mess, and let me tell you it was one of the most liberating experiences I’ve ever had. I’m still, two weeks later, feeling the euphoria of it all. I’m not sure if and when I’ll tell anyone else (because, let’s face it, many would judge me for it, either out of trying to take an interpersonal “shortcut” and write me off as “flawed” or because they don’t understand that by going through a real recovery process and making a positive change in ourselves, we become stronger, better, more fully realized people--and really, I fucking DARE the average, lazy, self-satisfied person to presume to tell me otherwise). But if I never tell another living soul in my personal, face-to-face circle, I hope that this one revelation did some good for someone else (it did for me). She says it has made her feel better about her own struggles and given her a new willingness to give therapy a try.

    I highly recommend unburdening yourself of those dark secrets.

    Anyway, I wanted to share this story to thank those here who have provided me with encouragement over the course of my tenure here and as an example of how a patient ear, kind words of support, and a willingness to share our own stories and details (even when it’s painful to do so) can have positive repercussions for other members.

    (So, remind me again why we sometimes end up attacking and belittling one another? ;) )

    Thanks guys! You're the best!
     
  2. dlcs

    dlcs New Member

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    From the daughter of an alcoholic who is so far from admitting he's got a problem he might as well be on Mars...

    THANK YOU.

    It saddens me that he doesn't realize, as you clearly have done, that saying "I'm done with this and I want to live a better life" and seeking out help to get to that place is NOT an act of weakness.
    I'd like to know my father, but all I know is the alcohol... I have never encountered him sober.

    I know the feeling of "something ain't quite right and I'm not going to uncover it" all too well. My mom is still very uncomfortable with emotions. She's been divorced from him for nearly 20 years and she still can't speak his name... he put her through absolute hell.

    I wept at your words, Steve. I cannot thank you enough.
     
  3. madame_zora

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    Steve,

    As one who has known the struggles of alcoholism firsthand, I think you know how happy I am for you that you had such a wonderful experience in opening up to someone so well loved in your real life. So often we never get answers to our unanswered questions, but those times when we can actually be a party to providing answers for someone else who is searching too, it it an amazing feeling. Right now, she is probably feeling all alone in hte world and hopelessly lost. Being able to see someone else who she probably views as "grounded and strong" as someone who is also a survivor is about the best encouragement anyone can get.

    During the years when I was more active in AA I heard over and over that the stories of our personal struggles would one day become our greatest gifts, and it has certainly been true in my own life. Thank you so much for having the courage to share your story here, where so many others can know it's okay to ask for help. Being strong is mostly about knowing when to say when- we all need a shoulder sometimes and that's how we grow. I feel lucky to call you my friend. Jana
     
  4. GoneA

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    Anais Nin once said: "And the day came, when the risk it took to remain tight inside the bud, was greater than the risk it took to blossom."

    From what I've read, I think you confom, very nicely if I say so myself, to this citation. It does me a world of good to see introverted, and to some degree, abused individuals, like yourself, blossom. This is do, in large part, to self-discovery, and I think where that is concerned, you've come a very long way. I can see the future, and yours looks bright.

    Here Comes the Sun, Steve. Here Comes the Sun.
     
  5. Love-it

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    Honesty is freedom.
     
  6. Matthew

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    Thanks, Steve - that's an inspiring story. Sometimes the best way to grow is to give somebody else a hand. Being cynical and shut-down is really easy, any fool can do that (note to self). It takes real courage and effort to put your real self out there.
     
  7. JustAsking

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    I have a dear friend who has been struggling with fierce personal demons from sexual abuse as a child, and many years of alcoholism as an adult. Having been with her through all of her recovery efforts over the last few years, I have to say that I totally agree with steve319's statement.. These struggles are nothing short of heroic. This is courage, guts, and personal growth far beyond what most of us ever encounter in our own lives.

    JA
     
  8. naughty

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    Steve,

    I am so happy you made that healing step towards your cousin. So often others are just waiting for a moment of transparency from another human being. It has broken down many walls and barriers. I am glad it was a cathartic experience for both of you.

    Kim
     
  9. steve319

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    Thank you so much for the kind words of support, guys. I feel good about my choice and I believe that she has benefitted as well. So far, so good.

    Not all of us have faced issues with substance abuse in our own lives or the lives of our loved ones, but the basic issues of openness, vulnerability, and the willing sacrifice of self-sufficiency run across human experience---we all have likely run into those at some point.

    (And aren't those vital components of a healthy relationship of most any sort? Maybe I'm learning. ;) )

    Thanks again.
     
  10. D_Elijah_MorganWood

    D_Elijah_MorganWood New Member

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    Years ago when I was in treatment and newly sober, I was writing my 4th step (Searching and Fearless Moral Inventory) and I was TERRIFIED that someone would see it. I waited until I left treatment and got my own place to finish it. My sponsor put me off for several weeks doing my 5th step (reading the damn thing) and when we finally did, he told me to rip it up. I did but it's funny, in the process of destroying this encyclopedia of my sins, resentments and innermost secrets, I realized that through the process of sharing them with my sponsor, I wasn't ashamed of them anymore. OK, maybe a little. My point is that I'd sit here today and tell you anything from that list. The reason I don't is because it usually isn't appropriate or mostly it's none of (most people's ) business. We truly are only as sick as our secrets. I'd like to think that if I can help someone, it's a successful day.
     
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