Part of the problem is that I haven't told you everything.
And this morning, I'm sitting here feeling muted and bumpy and squishy - somehow all of these weird feelings together - and I know that I need to say things.
In March I stopped drinking. Like, for real.
And a month or so ago, I started going to meetings. Because I needed camaraderie and understanding and the looks in the eyes of the people who get what I'm saying.
Who understand the crazy-making that thinking, "Do I have a problem?" can bring. Who can relate to the teary confessions, the shame, to the desire for a steadier, clearer future.
I started going sporadically, here and there, just touching my toe to the water. I asked a dear friend to sponsor me, to be The One to hold me accountable.
And that was that. Sophisticated, clear progress, right?
Then the other night at work, a friend from one of these meetings came up to me and asked what my day count was.
I had no idea what she was talking about - the cultural lingo is not familiar to me yet. I did the rough calculation - somewhere around 100 days - and she congratulated me. "You need to celebrate that number. Keep track of it. You're worth celebrating."
And then, the next night. I took a pill. A Percocet. Because I wanted to sink deeper into something that was feeling good, because I'd chosen to convince myself - very clearly and level-headedly - that taking a pill to relax was a separate thing. It wasn't a drink, and so it was fine, totally fine, just this once.
After the warm glow of the short high, the subtle panic set in. I planned how I wasn't going to tell my sponsor, how I didn't really need to be doing the steps anyway, how there are plenty of people who don't do the steps and and and.
And then the abrupt clarity of: the jig's up. You can't consciously lie to yourself anymore, at least not like this.
Which drove me immediately toward my e-mail, toward my confession, to her and to myself. Which drove me into fear and defensiveness.
And which simultaneously drove me into the heart of my sponsor-friend, who loved me despite my curious choice, who was able to see me instead of just my decision.
Last night I walked into a meeting. I was oozing shame and anger and frustration. It became my turn to speak and I struggled to get the first word out.
"My name's Emily. And this is Day One."
Note: I need to tell you my full story. Not because I want to be self-punishing or dramatic or attention-seeking. It's the opposite. Because I know that telling my truth lets some walls come down around me and around others. And because I've been so full of shame for so long, and it's been killing my spirit.
My inner world is so full of contradictions. And I can't see how I can appreciate other people telling the truth if I'm unwilling to tell mine.