Sobriety, Relationships, and Telling the Truth
“My experience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape my mind.” -William James, Principles of Psychology
Some people have a really funny way of showing love. Somebody loves you. It may not look like it, but somebody loves you very much. They just are not sure how to get the message to you in a way that you can understand, or possibly, you are not allowing yourself to receive it, but you are loved, and you deserve to believe that you deserve it.
There You Go Being Brave
Go all the way. Be the change that you want to see. Change takes actively participating in your life by doing something different than before, so if you have negative thought patterns, remember that you always have a choice. If you are constantly fighting with your spouse when normally you both get along fine, stop approaching it from the same angle. Sometimes it deserves a different point of view other than I’m right and they are wrong. Michael sometimes does not understand what I am going through with all of these changes in sobriety, and for a while, I was getting really upset with him for not understanding how to respond to a shift in my needs like come on, catch up with me. This was not working, and we were just missing each other on the communication channel again and again in little ways. Then, we tried something totally new. We took time for a real and much needed heavy talk.
At first we only defended ourselves from our own truths which revealed other truths about our relationship. We talked in great detail about who we were becoming and how we needed to be seen and heard. We payed attention to each other, and there were a lot of tears. This was not easy, and we had no idea what we were doing. I only knew that this was new and necessary to get to the truth. I knew that this was not the same way of communicating. We told the absolute truth instead of the overgrown truths from a time that had long passed us by. We had a talk with all ends exposed, and it was terrifying at first, but we did not die. There were no implosions, earthquakes, or life shattering happenings. Sure. We got angry. We expressed our hurt, our wounds, and those feelings of being misunderstood. We got through it piece by piece with long periods of misunderstanding, and some even longer periods of silence. Over several hours, and a few “time outs”, we were communicating without all of the excess. We wrapped up our conversation with a new perspective and mutual feeling of achievement and respect, but this took a few long conversations full of miscommunication over the last few weeks. Sometimes it takes talking about something only to realize that okay that conversation clearly did not translate correctly. We learned together that we both wanted love and respect, but the ways that we thought we were giving each other love and respect were sort of outdated. The rest is maybe realizing that the thing you wanted was not at all what you needed. Instead of making sure that we were saying the right things this time, we told the truth. We found out that the levy needed to break to keep us moving. The fear of it breaking was worse than the overflow itself. It feels good to be an honest active member of my own life. I am someone who can feed myself and my relationships with love. We love each other, and aside from all of the things that we thought we were doing for each other, the only ones that really matter come from learning and listening to the truth.
No one in my family sings, but living and surviving around musicians for the past 15 years of my life showed me that a lot of people can sing: I just was not one of them. I could not get over the story I knew about people from my family. We are not singers. Singing was something I learned to swallow and hide no matter what. Before leaving Atlanta to start another new life on tour, I was hanging out with 3 of my favorite people, saying good-bye. I kept almost singing “Gypsy” by Fleetwood Mac, and I remember my friend looking at me like, hey are you about to sing for real? He looked at me with hope, like it was something he was stepping into on some level too, so he looked to me like maybe she’s over there being brave too. The moment I saw his look I knew what it meant, so I shut it down. He looked away knowing exactly what that meant as well. We both knew it was another swallowed opportunity. Some fears are still just too ingrained to overcome so quickly. This back and forth means a lot of false starts and a lot of tuning it back to the song in my head.
There she goes being brave.
We just are not a singing family, but at my brother’s wedding, our friend Steve grabbed a guitar while our sister gathered everyone to the living room. We watched her set up this little seat next to Steve, still unsure of what was happening. Then she let out a song with her real voice. My dad, my mom, my brother and his new husband, all of their wedding guests, and I sat with tears streaming down our cheeks as we watched my younger sister bravely do something we were all pretty sure was impossible if you came from our family. It was an acoustic version of “One thousand years”, and this was her wedding gift to them. It was electric. I gave a speech with quotes and candor because public speaking and charisma, those are my gifts. Mom baked their wedding cake and decorated the house with class and finesse because this is how she shows love and bravery. My dad flew into town and arranged all of the details for their rehearsal dinner. His presence was his way of showing love. Everyone has their own way of showing love through moments of bravery for others, and if you happen to see it, embrace it as their moment to shine. My sister sang for all of the times we could not as a family, so it may not be the story you always told yourself about them. Let people surprise you.
We are all asking for the truth at the end of the day. To be seen as we are and realize that this is okay. No one is really happy living in a lie. You have to put up a lot of blinders to live in lie, and lying takes a lot out of you. This just is not an option for me. I think you’ll agree if you’re someone coming through addiction that the time we spend now is more precious than ever. I think you know that the truth is scary, but I think you also know that a lie is capable of stealing your entire identity. A lie is a way of forfeiting yourself again into something that keeps you from who you are, and in my opinion, there is just no time for that. The idea that we are alone in our negative thoughts is the only thing that keeps us from letting them go to see another point of view. What I’ve learned recently is that everyone has negative thoughts, but some of us have invested more time listening to those thoughts and letting them grow louder and louder. It only sounds like the truth because you hear it so often, but the more you disprove the negative voice, the more obvious it becomes that it was all really just a lie.
Vancouver, City of Glass
I look down over the courtyard, flooded with memory movements of things that have not happened yet. I feel little movements and see them in groups here and there for the next thing my mind is finally allowing me to feel again. I miss my voice in that way. I miss choreography. The only way to disprove the negative voice is to do something different. I understand why Vancouver is called the City of Glass, and I shift my gaze to what seems like an endless stack of cookie-cutter-icebox-apartment buildings just like ours. Each one has its own story, and each one is mainly glass. Each little box, right in front of me, does something different. One knocks and whirs around through to the kitchen while another stirs back to the living room. Most of the boxes have already started unrolling shades with the setting sun. I love it here, right by the water, and we have arrived. There is no time like right now to be brave. I needed a break from what I was doing, at least, for a little while. It’s brave to know when to back down gracefully. This is real life. This is not a lie, so I do not mess around with self-care. You will not survive this if you do not learn to take care of yourself. Live your truth. ❤