Sometimes people say things and it goes right over my head in the moment but comes back later. A while back a friend commented on being surprised I am out of the closet, so to speak. I don’t hide that I am an addict and this blog isn’t at all anonymous. I even link to it off my Facebook from time to time.
Shame. Shame is why I refuse to pretend to be other than what I am. I’ve been shamed as a domestic violence survivor. I’ve been shamed as a young single mother. I’ve been shamed for my failed marriages. I’ve been shamed for being a woman who has had sex. I’ve been shamed for working a “man’s job.” I’ve been shamed for simply daring to walk down the street without a man. And yes, I’ve been shamed for being powerless over drugs and alcohol.
None of these things makes me any less a human being, fully capable of love and caring. I refuse to be dehumanized through shame. Sometimes shit happens. I won’t be shamed or shushed for having been a victim in the wrong place at the wrong time. And sometimes I’ve made mistakes and done some pretty rotten shit. And I won’t be shamed for taking responsibility and trying to right those wrongs. Everyone makes mistakes and does rotten shit. Pretending I have it all together and lead a pretty, perfect life and have never screwed up is shameful. Being real and honest and willing to learn a new way to live is not.
That’s the selfish reason. I’m taking my little bit of power over me back from anyone who would try to use it to hurt or manipulate me.
Then there’s the unselfish reason. If I can do even a little bit to destigmatize these conditions for others I will call myself a success story. I am not the only woman to get up the courage to leave a bad situation and find herself alone and embarrassed and the object of scorn. I am not the only woman raising kids without a partner and with little help or support. I am not the first woman to help a husband pack his bags just to make the insanity stop. I am not the only woman to want to work a job that pays the bills or walk down the sidewalk without being taunted. And I am most certainly not the only person to be powerless over drugs.
Addiction does not discriminate. It has no barriers nor boundaries. I know more than one person with genius level IQ who struggles with it. I’ve had several relationships and friendships with other addicts as well. They aren’t bad people. We aren’t bad people. We might be capable of some nasty hurtful actions, especially when we are using. But we are also capable of selflessness and deep caring. We are real people who have real feelings. And when we get clean, or want to get clean, shame is often a huge barrier. There is no shame here. Not from me.
I know, all too well, how frightening the world can be. I manage to come across as courageous and dedicated to my recovery. That isn’t me. That’s God. I rely on Her for every scrap of strength and courage and motivation in my life. Letting go of my own attempts to control life was a challenge for me. It took a leap of faith. I can’t prove God. But I do know that He hasn’t let me down yet. And the world isn’t quite so scary. And when it is a dark frightening place and cowardly me wants to crawl into a hole and give up I let Her be my strength and courage. And it works.
Shame is an evil trick by the powerful to keep the powerless down. I might be powerless but I don’t stay down. And when I can I like to give a hand to anyone else who’s been put down.