From Bars to Scars

I remember in the first few months of my sobriety, crying and telling my husband through smeared mascara and snot that I didn’t know who I was.  More importantly, I didn’t know who I’d end up being without alcohol.  My drinking had become so much a part of how I viewed myself and how I behaved, that I didn’t know what the hell was going to happen after it was gone.  What if I didn’t like who I was sober any more than I did when I was drinking?  Even more scary, what if…way down deep…I was really like the rest of my family?  Selfish, narcissistic and self-serving with no capacity for real love.  Oh shit…just shoot me.

Of course, as time passed I began to realize that I am my own person.  Little of them, little of me, lots of life all mixed into one human being.  Still haven’t figured that out entirely…I’ll get back to you.  I have some hurdles to jump before I’m there.  Starting with my face.

See, I’m not very kind when it comes to myself.  Many beat downs from that inner bitch I have (in addition to those provided by my family while I was growing up) have resulted in a severely skewed viewed of myself.  For years I’ve carried this view and, no matter what anyone says or does, that’s my view and I’m sticking to it.  No amount of  compliments, or accolades, or awards or unconditional love will change my mind.  In fact, I dismiss them as easily as swatting a gnat on a warm summer night.  Sometimes I even squash them.

For example, I don’t like having formal pictures taken.  The reason is simple, I don’t like my face.  Before you freak all the hell out, let me explain.  It’s not that I don’t think I’m pretty or that I do think I’m ugly, I can’t get that far or be that objective.  It’s that all I can see when I look in the mirror are my mother and sister.  They weren’t/aren’t nice people.  Ergo…I don’t like my face.  It really is that simple.

Now I ask you – what the hell kind of attitude is that?  If I was mentoring a young woman and she made that kind of statement to me, I’d be appalled!  And then I would try and convince her how beautiful she was in her own right.  But it wouldn’t work.  And do you know why?  Because those kinds of scars go way too deep to be healed with words…or even love.  Those kind of scars can only be healed from within.

And that is exactly what sobriety is helping me do.  Some of those scars are open wounds that need to be disinfected and closed.  Others are battle scars of which I should be proud and learn to love.  And still some are self-inflicted – those will take the longest to heal.

I hope that along the way I learn to see myself more objectively and honestly.  I hope I learn to see myself as my husband and children see me.  I hope I learn to be kinder and gentler with myself.  I hope I learn to heal.

After all, I deserve it.

Namaste

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9 thoughts on “From Bars to Scars

  1. I loved what you said about your face. I don't like having my picture taken either. When I look in the mirror I see traces of my daughter and her loss is very, very apparent on my face.

    Nicole was very hard on herself- she felt she could not do anything right.

    I hope you will be kind to yourself. I am working on it too, as grief seems to own my soul.

    Take care

  2. I was just saying to my husband yesterday that I'm starting to like the way I look. My unique-ness. My gap teeth. My freckles. My not typical-ness. My plain-ness. My me-ness.

    I am always so hard on myself. Not good enough over and over. When we both know that's not true- and that if you and I met in person we would think the other was gorgeous. So maybe you think of you like I do, and I think of me like you would. Then in a while it will just be habit. Just like sober.

    Namaste. xo

  3. I've seen you, and what I saw was warmth and wisdom and smiling eyes. But I hear what you are saying and I wish there was something I could do to turn that negative little voice inside your brain around. Having said that, I know you have the mental fortitude and determination to do it yourself. You got sober – tick! Grow self love – tick! Love to you xxxx

  4. First off – I love you!!!
    A while back I wrote about our real self vs that “persona” and I have always known you to have this genuine “realness” – (ha, see velveteen rabbit!) We have those things that occur outside of us, beyond our control; family of origin top of that list. Dr Phil, in one of his books writes (and I paraphrase) You can trace who you've become in this life back to defining moments, key choices and five life-changing people. You cannot change these moments, choices and people, but once you recognize this, you can begin to work on changing your future.

    He goes on to explain where our internal happenings are made up of our own reactions to the events in our life. Since these reactions happen within us, we have the power to change them.

    Coming full circle, then, you've identified the internal factors and you are 'aware' of how it has affected you, your self-image, so you can begin processing it (and you are doing this!!!),, but it takes time. Reading between the lines of this very post indicate where you are a) acknowledging a weakness and then b) seeking knowledge about it and finally c) you are reigning in the power and eventually (I believe sooner than later, if not already),, those members from your family no longer have any power over you – you've taken it all back and this makes you beautiful inside and out . ,.
    YOU'RE AMAZING !!!

  5. This is my favourite post of yours so far.

    There is a depth and beauty to it (no pun intended) that just exudes self-examination and that bittersweetness that comes with recovery. The physical connection to our core values and familial ties to our externals is always strong, and it's not something that we can change at the source. But as you say so wonderfully, it's something that we can change at our end, and that comes from within.

    Your example of what a young woman would be told and not being able to follow our own advice made me laugh, because I am guilty of that often. Do as I say, not as I do. But we are of course hardest on ourselves. One of the things that I am learning is to soften that line on myself…treat me as I would one of my friends or family…with love and compassion. I would never speak to others the way I speak to myself at times. Self-compassion. We are all on that journey. You ARE that person your family sees you as…it will just take time to see it.

    Thank you for a sumptuous post.

    Blessings,
    Paul

  6. I went to a St. Patrick's Day party yesterday and everybody had their phones out snapping pics all day long, all of them barely able to wait until they got home to paste them all over facebook. I found myself clicking through one friend's album in dreadfilled haste, barely taking time to even really look at the pics, just clicking, clicking, clicking and then breathing a big sigh of relief when I didn't find any pics of me.

    I know some of this is based on all those years of drunken boozy photos that were mirrors to a me that I didn't know existed, the me that others saw but I couldn't when I was drunk. The dull eyes, the slack facial muscles, the drunk leering smile. I hated those morning after pics.

    But even before that, going back to junior high, I developed an extreme dislike of myself in photos because they never looked like the me that I saw when I looked in a mirror. Everybody else always looks like themselves, but I never look like me, to me. There's been very few pics through the years that I've said, “Now that one looks like me.”

    So now I'm coming to accept that it really is me in those pictures, and she's not perfect, but she's me and I should be grateful.

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