Penance – a sacrament, as in the Roman Catholic Church, consisting in a confession of sin, made with sorrow and with the intention of amendment, followed by the forgiveness of the sin.
I do feel alot of sorrow over this but I’m tired of playing the sick game of sin, guilt and penance. Once I realized that drinking was a problem for me I felt a lot more guilt over it than I did before I knew it was a problem. Once I started this blog and could better share, articulate and describe the problem I actually felt a little worse about it because there’s no turning back and saying, “Oh, actually everything is fine now. I thought I had a problem, but I quit for a month so I’m fine now.” I wish I could say that. I can’t.
I do this thing, I think as a coping mechanism, where I just shut everything off and ignore. Drinking helps me to ignore. So then, with life, problems, emotions, I just kind of shut them down and put them on pause. What that means for me is that I am purposely ignoring all this stuff. So, when I drank at the beginning of September it was almost as if it was on purpose, like I made the choice to do so. I drank this weekend and it felt like it was deliberate. Like, I am going to ignore this for two days and then I will pick it up again and do what I know how to do.
Yesterday, I felt like the only way my life has improved or moved forward in the past 5 years has been professionally. I realized this while listening to a SMART recovery podcast about depression. I’ve had mild depression for years. I took medicine for 1 year and then went off it because I knew I could address it naturally and I respond well to exercise, St. John’s Wort, yoga, etc. But the past year has been really hard for me. My job was incredibly demanding and all of my good coping skills were pushed aside so that I could work more. I have quit that job and am starting a new one in a week. This week off has made me realize how extremely off track I am right now. After listening to the podcast, I realize that I need to address my symptoms of depression which are mainly procrastination, hopeless thinking, lack of motivation and feeling of isolation/loneliness. I often can’t see the forest because there are too many trees.
I’ve realized that drinking is a quick way to turn on the ignoring. Part of the relief that I got from drinking was not thinking, not feeling, not having to deal with life. My “off” switch often does not work and drinking helped with that. It is the way to turn off that takes the least amount of effort. There are other things that work quite well for me too that also happen to be healthy like meditating, listening to guided meditations, yoga, exercise, comedy, etc. But over the past year especially, I used those tools less and less because drinking was easier and my job was so hard, I was so stressed, I don’t have time, I need to shut down and all sorts of other lies I told myself.
I don’t know where this is going. I guess I just wanted to say that I’m sick of the cycle of “sin”, guilt and penance that I have created for myself. I know better but I’m not doing better. Its ridiculous. I’m not helpless but it is so uncomfortable to ask for help. I know I need the accountability and community that in-person meetings could create for me. I know I need to see a counselor who specializes in alcohol abuse and the things that often go with it like depression. I know what I need to do. I know I need to quit drinking. I know that if I could be a normal drinker I would but I’m not so that would indicate that I should not drink at all. I know I need additional help and the thought of seeking it out and doing the things that I believe will help me makes me feel vulnerable and anxious which makes me want to normalize what I’m going through because if I can normalize it and rationalize it then it’s not a problem!
And now, I’ve completed my penance. I’ve told the truth. I’m going to forgive myself and make something of my day. It’s my favorite time of year and I’m going to spend a few hours outdoors.