I’ve thought that I was an addict for as long as I can remember. A biologically predetermined inevitability that was lurking in the shadows waiting to one day wreak havoc on everything that I loved. This is how I lived my life; the fear of addiction like an oversized anvil dangling from a thin string above my head. What I hadn’t considered until recently was the consequences of acceptable unmanageability and quiet chaos that alcohol brings to my life that goes relatively unnoticed. All this time I was waiting for a monster that was already under my bed.
In my mind I had built up this fear of addiction as something that would swoop in when I wasn’t paying close enough attention and destroy my life. Never once during this time did I ever consider the impact that alcohol was already having on my health, my sense of self, and my relationships with the people that I love. In recent weeks I’ve begun to get curious about the way us “normies” arrogantly point our fingers at others whose lives we’ve decided are past the line of acceptable unmanageability; but what about my own? Are we not all capable of the same rationalizations that justify our behaviours and line our cozy beds of denial so long as it looks good on the outside?
This was no longer going to be acceptable for me. And although I am not here to condemn anyone for their behaviours, I have reached a stage where I am willing to mindfully and intentionally come face to face with my monsters and what I am really trading for a moment of numbness.
I have reached a stage where I am willing to mindfully and intentionally come face to face with my monsters and what I am really trading for a moment of numbness.
While my unmanageability may appear subtle to those on the outside, I assure you that—if left unacknowledged—it is no less destructive to the people and things I hold dear. In fact, the insidious nature of these stolen moments is what scares me the most.
It’s that cross word with a good friend after one too many glasses of wine, or that secret that somehow escaped our lips. It’s the agonizing shame and racing thoughts as we try to remember all that was said and the deep knowing that, once again, grace eludes us.
It’s being too tired, too busy, too mentally checked out to connect meaningfully with our partners, our children, and our loved ones but always finding the time to nurse a hangover. It’s sticking our heads in the sand when we know that intimate words need to be spoken and telling ourselves we will go there tomorrow.
It’s one more night spent staring blankly at our screens because lethargy is the only mood we know. It’s blaming everyone and everything for our muted zest for life because naming the source would mean changing our own behaviour. Once again rendering ourselves the victims of circumstance.
But worst of all, these choices steal the very essence of who we are, or who we could be rather. It is the elixir that dulls the roar of the callings in our heart. You know the ones, the inner knowings that excite us and terrify us to our very core. If we are fully awake, what cliffs might we have to jump from? What leaps might we have to take? Did I choose the right career? Am I still in love my partner?
Who am I?
These voices frighten us and so we numb them. We numb them with substances, food, exercise, work, promiscuity, consumption, or some other distraction, just enough to keep our monsters in the dark. But the anesthesia always wears off. Our friends forgive, our partners overlook, and our dreams wait patiently for some other day. We carry on living the lives that look good on the outside for fear of where a full expression of our authentic selves might take us and what it might look like.
And therein lies the greatest problem with our hidden unmanageability. No one even knows we’re drowning.
Today, I no longer fear addiction.
I see now that this fear has acted as an excuse to avoid taking ownership for the subtle unmanageability in my own life. I want to be the wife, daughter, sister, and friend that the people in my life deserve. Most importantly, I want to get to know myself. I want to ask the hard questions and trust that my monsters are just friends I haven’t met yet.
As a Registered Social Worker, Interventionist, and founder of True North Interventions, Sonja Maibach works with individuals and families suffering from addiction through one on one counselling, family care, and invitational intervention. When addiction is present in the family, loved ones find themselves feeling afraid, alone and unsure of their decisions. Sonja provides services designed to provide peace of mind by creating a partnership that allows you to feel confident in the decisions being made about the health and wellness of you and your family.