A LifeRing Keeper: Coming Out of Hiding

Some of the LifeRing online venues allow members to post relatively long comments and some of these are very well written and informative. What we call “Keepers.” They deserve a wider audience. Here’s a fine recent example from the LSRsafe email group, slightly edited and with names altered:

“When I continue to isolate and hide, I drink – eventually. The more I risk ‘coming out’ here and in other areas of my life, the less power my dragon seems to have.”

Tom,

I plucked this out of your longer post because for me it was key.  I think a lot of us have a tendency to isolate, probably for lots of different reasons, but for me, anyway,  it had to do with feeling I wasn’t “good enough” to be part of things and trying desperately not to admit it.  It was easier to hide than risk criticism and failure.  And alcohol itself became something that masked who I really was.  If I acted the fool, I could always tell myself it was the wine talking, not the real me–that perfect, infallible creature beloved by all.

Accepting my own imperfections and failures as part of the human condition was a huge step out of hiding, and it started with admitting I was an alcoholic.  I couldn’t do it in person for quite awhile, it’s why online venues worked so well for me.  When I found LifeRing’s Delphi forum and came out as an alcoholic, it was the first time I’d said it anywhere.  I really thought the sky would fall.  And lo and behold, here were all these other people–funny, smart, great people–who were alcoholics, too, and welcomed me with open arms.  It made me feel brave enough to tell a few people in my life, and to open up some conversations about other failures and imperfections of mine that made sea changes in my relationships.

I thought I was damaged goods.  Turns out, we all are.  NOBODY makes it to adulthood in mint perfect condition, but the only way I found that out was to start coming out of hiding myself…and after that, I didn’t need alcohol so much to mask who I am.  Not that I don’t still want it sometimes, but I feel like I can survive without it.

I have a photo on my wall that a friend took from Alcatraz, a former prison on an island in San Francisco Bay, notorious for its isolation, and supposedly escape-proof.  It’s taken from inside one of the buildings.  There’s a heavy iron door that stands ajar, and looking out through the crack, you see creamy grayish water stretching away to distant blue hills.  You can just imagine someone looking out that door, longing for freedom.  It’s become a symbol for me of coming out of hiding.  As we shed our alcoholic selves, we’re walking through that door, dear Tom–and there’s gold in them thar hills.  Keep on walking.

Sally

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LifeRing Secular Recovery is an organization of people who share practical experiences and sobriety support. There are as many ways to live free of drugs and alcohol as there are stories of successful sober people.

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