Thank you so much for sharing this. You speak for countless numbers (millions) of addicts.
I too began my early life in shame. I was ashamed my birth mother had abandoned me — and thus began in the very start of my life the feelings of shame. Then I became ashamed by the ripe old age of 7 that another mother didn’t want me either. Add her husband — the only father I had ever and did ever know in my life — who also didn’t want me and couldn’t love me either, and there was the demon in my life all before I was even a teenager.
I tried on an eating disorder by 15. I began giving myself away to boys by the age of 16 to try and get some attention to help get rid of the constant shame about myself that I carried like a 100 pound weight around my neck. That obviously only led to more and more shame. By the age of 18 I was a walking fear factory, ashamed of every part of myself. By my early 20’s I was a full-blown addict — I had stumbled upon drugs and alcohol quite accidentally but discovered how those chemicals and elixirs lie to you and make all those decades of shame disappear.
Except they didn’t. Every single time I started to sober up, I felt even MORE shame because I knew that how I was choosing to self-medicate was wrong. I felt out-of-control. But I kept drinking and using to alleviate my pain and shame. It would be over another decade lost in my life to alcohol before I realized the vicious cycle I was in. Feel searing, burning shame, add alcohol to temporarily alleviate shame. Then feel more shame about being a drunk. Be miserable for a day or two trying to sober up, shame becomes unbearable, add more alcohol.
Once I started trying to live in the light where the shadows of shame cannot exist, I began to see that there is another way to live. It is only when we shed the shadows and live in the light that we truly become the creatures we want to be — happy, humble, shame-free, and truly free.
I am so glad today that I am sober and have nothing to be ashamed about. Also, speaking our truth as you have done here eliminates all shame, because the truth is the light that guides our way.
Thank you for such a great piece.