One of the questions I find myself asking quite often at this stage of my recovery – who the fuck am I? As a newcomer I’ve been forced to ask myself this as I’ve experienced more of the programme, and begun to incorporate it into my daily life.
Before recovery I was driven by self will. I’d lost faith in people and the outside world. I felt I had to control as much of my world and the world around me as possible, so that one person could ultimately benefit, myself. I had friends and surrounded myself with people, but very few of these I learned recently, actually meant anything to me. I’d surround myself with people to try and fit in, to feel accepted. Most of these I now recognise for what they were, false friendships. I’d turn to them to try and fill the hole I felt inside, what we in recovery call, ‘the hole in the soul’. My fear of not being enough would mean insecurities drove the way I interacted with people, I’d buy drinks for people I barely knew to get them to like me or spend money in bars and clubs to show off and impress strangers.
In the world of work, I had ambition and success, but fear had masked these too. I’d work hard to put myself into a position of power only to show people I was worth something, or to make people look or feel inferior. I’d look to exert control, use persuasion to influence as much as I could to my personal advantage. When that would fail, I’d build resentments against those who had resisted and think of ways to still win out in the end.
By the time I’d come into the rooms, alcohol was a part of everything in my life. My evenings, weekends, even working-days would have alcohol at the center, I didn’t feel comfortable without it in most situations, and life with it, was quickly becoming unbearable as I began to destroy myself and everything I’d worked for.
Things are very different at this point in my life. I’ve been in the rooms for just over six months now, and while my recovery journey is still just beginning, many things have changed or are changing day by day. I’m not driven by material wealth and perceived success at work, in fact I’m completely reassessing what I want to do with life and find myself wanting to work in something that has purpose and meaning, not a title that just looks good on Linkedin. I’m looking to live a simpler more peaceful and useful life. I want to be a better person, a productive member of society. I want to be somebody people trust, respect and can rely on, a good fellow in recovery, a better friend, brother and son.
My outlook on life has changed and continues to do so. So much of my old identity (all of it in fact) revolved around alcohol and my illness. I see that now, my entire life was driven by fear.
As I begin to recover, it leaves me with the question of who I am now that I am living a life without alcohol, a life without fear. It’s not something I’ll be able to answer, maybe not for a time yet. It’s part of the journey and something that, while I’m sure will cause me anxiety from time to time, is something I’m ready to find out.