“We are all spiritually powerless, however, not just those who are physically addicted to a substance…….Alcoholics just have their powerlessness visible for all to see. The rest of us disguise it in different ways, and overcompensate for our more hidden and subtle addiction and attachments, especially our addiction to our way of thinking.”
I reflect upon my life choices regularly. I work at acknowledging the many ways I have lived against myself following “stinking thinking” patterns and I am working on acknowledging some of the ways I have lived toward myself.
I have tried to right my wrongs and I will continue to do so as long as I live, Goddess willing.
I was reflecting on some choices recently when talking to my very best friend in the world, Susan. She has somehow been in my life, voluntarily, since 1990, when the dinosaurs roamed the earth. 🙂
I have been connected to her daughters almost since they were born and she was relating a story to me recently where she was discussing drinking alcohol** with her now college aged daughters who described little interest in booze partly because of the alcoholism they know of in their lineage.
One of them was counting the alcoholics in the family and listed me—and while I am not biologically connected—we are kin in a way that is unbreakable. My friend said ”Wait a minute! Aunt Giulia is NOT an alcoholic.”
We talked about it a bit and I sat down and wrote this letter to my “niece.”
Here is the letter I wrote:
I was talking to your mom and she was telling me about a conversation you guys were having about alcohol and that you thought I am an alcoholic. I must admit, I really do not know if I am an alcoholic and I don’t mind the label—it seems like saying—I had a not great relationship with booze. Alcohol did not make my life uncontrollable. My life started out uncontrollable and I tried to get a grip in all the wrong ways and in some of the right ways…….
Alcoholism is a self diagnosis—kind of like everything, really. I never felt like I had a “healthy” relationship to alcohol—but there was never any kind of relationship in my life that felt healthy. I was not taught anything about health and wellness—except mostly what not to do, which I only learned by paying attention to other people’s pain, and that it would probably never be accessible to me, because I was never going to amount to anything. I never could imagine living to even 30 years old.
My parents did the very best they could with the information and life experiences they had. All of us are always doing the best we can—even when it’s not enough for other people. As a little girl, I was abandoned in many ways. My parents were unable or unwilling to heal their own wounds and so they perpetuated their wounds in the way I was raised—with no touch and in total chaos. I have lived most of my life afraid of adults and of authority. I have had to overcome a great distrust of other people because I grew up in an environment with lots of alcohol, violent rage, constant criticism, sexual assault, and belittlement.
I certainly tried a lot of things to find a way to feel better—or to feel nothing. Not unlike an eating disorder—I used alcohol, drugs, sex, binge eating, smoking cigarettes, work, and exercise to change the way I felt.
Every single thing a human being does is to change the way we feel.
Growing up in a home with chaos leads a person to not trust anything. I had to learn to make my own ground, I had to find my own center. (Though we all must—I didn’t realize it and was never shown how). No one ever made me feel safe to explore my creativity, my athleticism, my intellect, my body, my sexual orientation. No matter what I did or said I was told I was too fat, too stupid, too sensitive, too judgmental, too masculine, too muscular, too queer, ……anything but perfect.
Because it is what I chose, somehow.
I have used everything that has been given to me—the good and the not so good——
Every scrap of my ragged life was a gift FOR me.
I spent a lot of years lamenting my childhood, blaming my parents and feeling sorry for myself—I did drink too much sometimes and it fed my shame. Am I an alcoholic? I don’t think so. I have been able to give up so many things in my life that even if addiction has played a role—it’s not one thing—it’s everything. I have done a lot of things that were very dangerous and life threatening.
We are all addicted to something. Giving up drinking was easy for me. Giving up sugar is mostly easy—but sometimes really tough, lol.
The thing in life that I continue to find incredibly difficult and often heartbreaking is letting go of the belief that I am not enough. I just still do not know how to give up believing that I am wrong, that I was born wrong.
We all develop defenses for survival when we are little. Even if your childhood was idyllic—you had to learn to get what you needed from your caregivers. We are not born with language and as you know, even when people speak the same language—there is often incredible difficulty understanding what each others words really mean. This all goes back to our experiences and our perceptions of our feelings. We learn to do things and to be certain ways that allow us to survive—but then we still don’t know how to let go those survival mechanisms.
How did we get here?
I don’t know and mostly I really don’t care. Explaining how I got here is a long and boring story because its a litany of what I survived which is only another way of saying I am here—I AM alive.
To be fully alive is to be in the process of surviving whilst also finding a way to thrive.
We thrive when we are healing ourselves and sharing what we have learned with others: helping is how we heal.
On my worst day, I can offer a smile to someone who needs it more that I will ever understand. I can open a door, let a car go first, etc I can be grateful for everything I have even when I think I need more……..
My incredible opportunity to work with children has saved MY life, not theirs. I am not here to save anyone but me and I can only do that when I am connected; tuned in, turned on, and plugged in to the beauty and connection of community. Communion. Nature and my body and my feelings are all my connections to this life.
The opportunity to know you is something I almost missed in my life. I was wrapped up in my own pain and drama when your mom married your dad. I didn’t have money to travel to WV to the wedding and when Susan sent me a card announcing she was pregnant I was so out of touch with everything that had transpired in her life that I was just shocked. I do not even know what I did —but it was not enough and I wasn’t there to support her through the pregnancy. Your mother is part of her mother, who was in many ways a saint—an angel on earth, as is your mom. Your mom never gave up on me. She somehow believed that I was worth hanging onto, though I cannot fathom why.
The only reason I even know you is because she was gracious enough to bring you to Louisville and invited me to come meet you. Dumb and wounded as I am —I somehow made it to that hotel and it was really one of the happiest days of my life. I no longer have the picture of your sister on my lap—but I swear you could have been my children.
Life is long, if we are lucky, and labels are short.
I don’t know what I am still, but I know enough to know that love is ALL there is. Your mom is one of the ONLY people in the whole world who has supported me and loved me no matter how fucking stupid, egotistical, selfish, wounded I have been.
She has never been anything less than the very best friend in the whole world. I have so many gifts because of her generous spirit, not the least of which is a beautiful relationship with you and your sister.
I am so many things—as are you, as are we all.
I have done a million things and I have at least a million more to do—but all I want is to be in love. In love with life and with the people who show up in my life. Its not how they show up that makes me love them-it is simply THAT they are there. My God, my spirit, my soul, knows after all this time and all this shame and blame and worry that it was there ALL the time—inside of ME—everything I need is already baked in. Just like in The Wizard of Oz.
If it is happening in my life—it is FOR me—ALL of it—the pain, the joy, the peace, the fear—everything and everyone is for me. If something comes up in my body—illness, disease, injury, pain—it is MINE. This is my body and everything that happens in it is mine and if its mine—its for me to learn something.
The body shows us where we are blind—literally. It shows us where our emotional wounds are and it we pay attention —it shows us how to heal everything. Healing is not symptom relief—it is peace and when we have peace many symptoms go away.
I hope I can teach that to as many people as possible before I die.
To be loved unconditionally is a self love journey—and we can help others see their worth through our eyes—our vision—(I’m not making a joke about your vision—I am trying to make a point though—that you can see just fine through your heart).
Every single thing each of us needs is already inside of us. The journey is to learn to stop letting our fears stop our wild and unique expression of who TF we are.
I know this was totally unsolicited—
I hope it lands as intended—with love.
We have to face the hard things in our lives to discover our truest selves—and that journey never ends——I don’t even think it ends with physical death—but I will let you know after I transition—hopefully many years from now.
I will love you forever, unconditionally.
You were born as perfect as any seed with everything you need to become fully you already inside.
The work is to find it all and set it free.
Give it ALL away. We can only ever keep what we give freely……
I know you will—I know you are already and I hope I get to celebrate a lot of milestones with you along the way.
All my love, always, ALL ways,
**If you think you have a problem with alcohol or drugs, you do.
If you were raised with alcoholics or addicts and/or you have an eating disorder or any other addiction, please seek help. You can text me or email me or call me and I will personally help you find the help that works for you.
“We are all just walking each other home.” Ram Das