The superpower of self-awareness.
Good morning my loves and welcome to day 20 of our Dry January Journaling series. Everyday feels like another little hike up the mountain and I'm so proud of you guys for taking this journey with me.
Here is today's prompt:
"What does self-awareness mean to you? Does it feel like an ending or a doorway?"
Brene Brown called sobriety her superpower and I gotta tell you, I don't disagree with her. I'd just like to add on to what sobriety does for us.
When I chose to quit numbing the dark voices in my head, I finally had a chance to listen to what they were saying.
I was so scared of them that I chose to shove, ignore, and forget about my shadows in hopes that they would leave me alone. I learned that the more I drank, the darker the shadows became.
I finally had to decide what was harder: living my life exhausted, numb, anxious, and overwhelmed AND hungover or try to face all of the parts of my life with something that would actually make a difference.
I have tried many things to dull the voice in my head that said I wasn't good enough, that said I wasn't safe, and that most of all said I was unwanted. As a kid, I tried to achieve every god-damned thing I could. Awards, recitals, games - I loved winning because I loved praise. I loved feeling important. As I got older, I continued to shape myself into a version that other people would love. Doing whatever behavior that seemed to get others praise and avoiding behavior that others got in trouble for. I was terrified of making mistakes and most of all, terrified of failure.
For most of my life, I could keep the darkness and the anxiety at bay. With my achievements and my grades and my life, I could handle it.
But you can only live that way for so long. Avoiding pain doesn't make it disappear, it just makes it grow into something unmanageable.
I finally had to ask myself why I was getting wasted every single night. I had to ask myself a question I already knew the answer to deep down and that was "Do I have a problem with alcohol? "
In an effort to prove myself wrong, I set out to do dry January in January of 2021. I told myself "I am absolutely going to drink again but I should be able to go a month without something - we will drink in February and it will all be fine. I'm fine"
And then February came and I told my therapist, "why not do another month? Just for shits and giggles?"
And then after March, I knew I wasn't going back.
I had tasted freedom and I knew it was only the beginning. I wanted more. I was now addicted to the clarity of sobriety. My brain literally had more thoughts, I had so much more energy, and I was literally happier. I could feel my anxiety going away and my depression stopped overtaking me and my thoughts.
I had no idea what freedom was lying before me, I just wanted to be able to do some deeper work in therapy. Honestly. I knew alcohol wasn't great for me and I knew drinking a lot wasn't helping my life but I had no idea what those boxes of wine were stealing from me. My memories, my patience, my sleep, my peace, my happiness, fuck even my joy. I straight up have found myself giggling at the smallest things these days - finding grandiose joy in the tiniest of moments.
Finding acceptance and joy in the present moment has actually been one of the most liberating things I've ever done for myself. I've shown myself that it's possible. This big and scary life that I thought I couldn't do, I actually can.
The scary thoughts, the dark ones, the insecurities even - I am able to face those with power now as I am not afraid of what they have to tell me. Because of self-awareness, I have started becoming an observer of my thoughts instead of interacting with them. They are teachers and they are the key to my healing. Letting them in, one by one, listening to them and learning from them.
This work, this shadow work, this self awareness work - it is a superpower. I have been able to see me for me, for maybe the first time in my entire life. The judgment and shame I once held for myself is lifting. I am replacing it with compassion.
Radical self compassion. That's a fucking superpower, too. Looking at ourselves through the lens of self-compassion is a lot of what sobriety has helped me do. Understand myself for who I am and what I am instead of through the lens of what I'm not and what I haven't done.
It's freeing to see yourself without the labels that everyone else has given you. To understand your motives and your needs is the only way you can learn to create a life you don't want to escape from. Not by shaming yourself into the correct option but by listening to what you want and truly going with what you actually want instead of what you think everyone wants you to do.