Today’s blog entry is from Dustin Wade, who has been a member of Café RE since March 2021. Dustin has been alcohol free since January 30, 2020. He is very active within his Café RE UP group and on our community chats.
Towards the end my drinking progressed to the point that I started drinking as soon as I woke up. I knew this was taking me down a dark path.
This behavior started when I was newly divorced, single and could do whatever I wanted. Why not start drinking first thing in the morning? Fast forward, now in a relationship (with my now new bride!) I would have an hour or two to sneak some in before she woke up, and the sneaky behavior began!
My drinking continued at work, filling various water bottles with wine, beer, and vodka to drink in my office. Going out to lunch, and sitting at the bar to drink more. I would keep the buzz going until I went home. Then I would try and hide the fact that I had been drinking all day. Oh, then there were days I would lie about working late and hit the bar again on the way home.
My car got towed one time and I lied about having to ‘work even later’ so I could get it out of the impound lot. With the drinking all day, that meant I did a lot drinking while driving, and never thought twice about it! While at the same time judging others who did it too.
Day after day, the shame ran deep.
Shame kept me drinking for far too long, and my drinking routine caused some significant weight gain. It embarrassed me. I was always the skinny kid growing up, so I felt like everyone was judging me. Growing up my family didn’t open up and talk about our struggles. This contributed to me letting the shame of drinking build up inside. Eventually, all the lying and drinking all day caught up with me and I had to face the music. When my fiancé found some hidden alcohol I had to share what had been building up inside for so long. Unable to hide behind a lie, I had to tell her how much I was drinking. Finally talking about this big secret I’d kept for so long I felt some burden being lifted. It was the scariest thing I’ve ever had to do!
I had always known that day was going to come. Part of me wanted it to happen this way, and part of me wanted to go out with a big rock bottom. A few days later, I stepped into an IOP (intensive outpatient program) and shared my shame of abusing alcohol with total strangers. Once I did it was like something reached into me and lifted this huge burden buried deep inside. I wept. It was so emotional hearing the words that I had a problem with alcohol come out of my mouth.
I quickly learned how powerful sharing shame could be.
Sharing shame can come in many forms, and you may want to know who your audience is before sharing. It might be with loved ones, close friends, AA meetings, your sponsor, therapists, rehab programs or publicly, like on the RE Podcast. It might be a post in a private Café RE group or a share on a Café RE chat.
A big share for me was doing the Café RE member spotlight, where I shared my story with the group.
Along the way, I was listening to other shares, and with everyone, there was something that resonated with me, and comforting to know I wasn’t alone. For this reason, I continue to share, because you never know who may need to hear what you have to say. What I realize now, is that I have shared shame is safe places, and I knew the audience. I think this is important to note.
There is a lot out there on sharing shame. Here is an excerpt from psyche.co website about sharing shame: ‘Sharing about our shame can help us realize that others will accept us despite self-perceived flaws. Further, sharing often provides a space where others open up and actually relate to our experiences, which decreases the sense of aloneness and can increase our trust in opening up to others.’
This last part of the quote really hits home, the decrease in a sense of aloneness has been huge for me, and bright spot in my recovery. Likewise, my increased trust in opening up to others has allowed me grow and learn. There was certainly no growth when I just bottled things up inside, with no outlet other than drinking.
I will leave you with this quote by author Ann Voskamp, ‘Shame dies when stories are told in safe places.’
Have you shared your shame?