Over five years ago, I woke up one morning to a studio apartment covered in dirty laundry, plates that needed to be cleaned.
Over five years ago, I woke up one morning to a studio apartment covered in dirty laundry, plates that needed to be cleaned, and a lack of natural light. I had gone out the night before, perusing the local dives within a couple of miles walk of me to find the cheapest and strongest drinks possible.
Like any other night out, I was aiming for a good time. A couple of drinks here, socializing with friends, order some food. But I woke up that morning feeling different about myself. In the mirror, I saw what I looked like, hungover as hell, more than a couple of lbs around my midsection.
Heavy bags underneath my eyes made me look like I was burning the candle at both ends. On any other day that I saw myself in the mirror, I would have simply laughed at how hungover I looked and maybe give myself a little bit of self-deprecating behavior just to lighten the move.
Not that morning. What I saw instead was a man struggling to come to terms with his reality. A man filled with regret and doubt about himself and his existence masked by nights of drinking.
Where and how all of this came is a mystery to me. I do not know how I spent many years of my life not recognizing this but it’s funny how one look in a mirror on a Wednesday morning can change your life forever.
That morning was when I realized that alcohol for all these years was not something I enjoyed. It was subconsciously helping me deal with the fact I did not like myself. It gave me superpowers to be social, to be engaging, and little did I realize that I was burying my shit deeper and deeper into a pit of self-loathing and excuses with every drink I took.
I didn’t particularly appreciate how I existed in the world. I was more concerned about being seen and heard all the time rather than listening. I was more caught up in gossip and bullshit. When I spoke of myself, I felt like an egotistical maniac exaggerating accomplishments, bragging about work.
When I felt the worthlessness I had for myself show up, I looked forward to throwing back a couple of brews and maybe a shot or two. Just enough to hold off with facing my reality for just a couple more days.
I kept my drinking a secret until that morning five years ago when I saw nothing but a fragile man looking and screaming for help. So I did the only thing I felt I could do.
I stopped and decided to face the music. I decided to walk towards the fire and chaos instead of running away from it like always. I took the first step to acceptance which was that I didn’t need alcohol to function. I didn’t need it to feel better about myself.
What I needed was to put the bottle down, see who I am, and start to acknowledge it.
I tell you this story to share that the hardest lesson I learned during those days of recovery was learning to embrace my humanity. I did not like many things about myself but I learned over the years to accept them, knowing I can change them. I thought many times about the moments of love I lost out on. I had many people reach out to me in the depths of my drinking that I ignored.
I didn’t care to connect with them. Those memories brought up regret but with every moment, I learned to forgive myself and accept that I did not know better at the time what it meant to be loved and to give it.
I still am processing at times my human nature, the way I think and feel. I’m still learning and discovering more about myself, trying to make up for lost years of not wanting to learn about myself. I’m still fighting the urge to turn my cheek at what I discover yet I am loving it at the same time.
Quite the paradox if you ask me; loving ourselves when we see some shit we don’t want to see and resisting the urge to let it surface in the name of unconditional love for ourselves.
It can be easy at times for us to not want to deal with our circumstances, with rejection, or discovering that there are things about ourselves we do not like. Let’s face it, no one wants to find out that they can be an asshole when x happens or that they cower and become afraid when y takes place.
No one wants to admit that they are not good at something for fear they will be judged and not received by others.
No one wants to be seen as the flawed creatures that we all are.
I recently heard a saying on a podcast with Aubrey Marcus and Peter Crone that we are all simultaneously masterpieces and works in progress.
We are perfectly imperfect and the way to true acceptance of ourselves is to embrace what you are and who you are. Your humanity remains intact when you fully accept that you are enough as you are.
Your friends, my friends, your family, my family, the world at large is not in dire need of us to continue to do more shit for us, to make waves all the time. What they want, what I want, and what you want is to embody all that we are.
Life is hard. Loving yourself through the tough times, through the discovery, through the exploration of your human is harder.