Simply speaking the truth out loud is healing in and of itself. When people courageously voice a true, hard thing, they’ve already stolen some of its dark power before we offer one word to fix it…Life and light are greater than the darkness…Pulling something difficult from its dark hiding place and into the light is innately healing. – Jen Hatmaker, from her book “For the Love.”
This quote really resonated with me. How often do we chew on something and let it terrorize us, until we can’t sleep at night, can’t think straight, and beat ourselves up. But once we hurl it into the world, in an admission to ourselves, to everyone, we start to be able to walk away from it.
I’ve been openly telling people that I don’t drink anymore. It gets easier and easier with each person. Depending on the person, sometimes it’s a “health choice,” other times it’s “it was becoming a habit…” and still other times, “well, I think it was leading into addiction.” All of the above are the truth. Some just more in depth than others, and as you can imagine, the responses vary depending on the level I know the person on the receiving end. And all of these are ok. “Just because,” is ok.
It’s actually liberating, and the more I tell, the easier it is to avoid the alcohol. The phantom accountability it creates is powerful. I say phantom, because really, they have no control over me, but what they think matters to me (at least the ones I care about). And in addition, I don’t want to let myself down.
I’ve been reading this book called Better Than Before, by Gretchen Rubin (author of The Happiness Project), and in a study of Self Knowledge (something that fascinates me to no end), she talks about The Four Tendencies – which are basically four separate ways people tend to be. I am an Upholder. An Upholder responds readily to outer and inner expectations – that is, “they want to know what’s expected of them, and to meet those expectations. They avoid making mistakes or letting people down – including themselves.” Typical insecure overachiever, for better or worse.
I make lists – and they encompass what I want to do and what everyone else expects me to do. I strive to accomplish them all. However, I do what everyone expects me to do, on my list first, and what I want to do last. For instance, I will knock out all of my work assignments given to me by others, before I work on a project I select for myself. Or I will clean the kitchen and dishes, get the kids ready for bed, and let the dog out, and then go to bed, and wake up early to read and have some alone time.
Having said that, I’ve created a double whammy of accountability for myself, based on these habits. That is, I don’t drink because I don’t want to anymore, but as an added layer, now, I also don’t drink, because people expect me to be sober, and I don’t want to let them down. I know myself well enough to know that this makes it easier to continue my quest and achievement of a sober life.
I think this ties well with the quote in which I started this essay, because I’ve pulled something difficult about myself out of the dark. Now that the light is shining on it, it doesn’t seem so large or scary anymore. And because more eyes have seen it, it has lost all of its power over me. I have nothing to hide.