I have been trying, for the past few days, to post something light hearted - funny things the kids have said, some vignette from daily life. But I've got nothing. My mind is completely absorbed in what has been happening over the past week and a half. I have struggled with whether or not to post about it, and what to write.
As I posted previously, my husband and I will be part of an Oprah show on Tuesday about mothers who drink in secret, with a focus on recent headlines of tragic accidents that occurred when mothers drove drunk. Steve and I were on to talk about our own experience with my alcoholism, how I kept it hidden for so long and the roles shame and denial played in our story.
We had to dig deep to figure out whether or not to do the show. I won't go in to all of it, there isn't a reason to, but ultimately I knew that if I had seen a show about this when I was struggling, it would have made me take a look at myself, just a little bit. It may have broken down just a small part of my wall of denial.
Even though I'm open about my recovery, even though I feel strongly that in order to combat alcoholism and addiction we need to talk about it, openly and honestly, this takes it to a whole new level. I'm scared, fearful of judgment and criticism, afraid of being vulnerable. I feel a lot like I did when I first got sober, with one important difference: shame.
When I was drinking the shame of my addiction, the stigma of being an alcoholic mother, was so great it kept me stuck even after I knew I had a problem. I felt like the only person in the world who did the things I did, felt the way I felt. I couldn't imagine a way to ask for help, certain that the world would abandon me because I was a terrible, weak person. When I went to treatment and learned I wasn't alone, that I had a disease, and that other women, other mothers, experienced the same things I did it loosened the grip my addiction had on me, just a little. It gave me courage to at least give sobriety a try.
Now I know the difference between guilt and shame. Guilt is feeling badly for something you did, and shame is feeling badly for who you are. Shame kept me sick. Facing guilt, working through the wreckage of what I had done, and finding a sense of self-worth helps me heal.
Addiction is a controversial and uncomfortable thing to talk about. I don't pretend I can explain it. I don't have any answers. But I believe that talking about it, getting more information out there, is progress. We can't heal from something we can't face.