I Present Myself.

I have often said I need to write to live.

Thus, it baffles me when I go periods of time with my laptop shut down, in semi-conscious denial that my mind, heart, and soul inevitably follow.

I don’t write for many reasons. Time. Energy or drive. Lack of content. Overwhelm of content. Appropriateness. Secrets.

Secrets are my favorite. Turns out there are often times in this life [my life] that putting every little thing on the internet is dumb or even dangerous. So you edit and ebb these truths away. I do. I color outside the obvious lines. I cast shadows and dance delicately around telling the truth and lying in the omission of it. I’ve come far is my public presentation of self. I likely have far still to go.

But I present myself. Messy. Raw. Filtered for harm and implications. I’m as real as they come and as fake as they fall.

Because of those secrets, those things one just can’t say…like the fitness guru internet star reliant of ‘roids or the intersectional feminist who throws plastic in the trash and pays Mexicans to do her yard work. Oh wait, that’s me.

Also me was the paleo prodigy and bulimia survivor throwing up for four years before telling a soul and seeking help. Also me was the leadership academy student struggling with my chronic intake of life-numbing substances. Also me is the oh-so-out-there recent rehab dweller drinking at her sister’s wedding…and the day after.

There’s so much hurt and blame and judgement in this world that it’s a shame to feel viscerally led to do a thing that elicits even more, maybe a creation where there was none. I have to say it like I have to write. If I have to be here, show up in this place of insight and vulnerability and interconnectedness and action, than I have to honor the places to which I must go. I received two separate messages today inquiring as to my sobriety. This, after drinking a handful of drinks last night in front of friends and family who barely batted an eye.

I lovingly give the benefit of doubting anyone knows what to say. And offer my own aptitude to sell a story. But I’d like to ground in the foundational truth that I can drink and be okay. I can drink not to excess. I can drink socially. I drink without consequence. This can be true while it is also true that alcohol has been a personal and disganosable problem in my life for which I’ve recently sought treatment. This can be true and total sobriety can still not be my goal or path. I’m not saying that’s true–I’m just saying it could be.

*insert me emailing my therapist because this shit is getting real and I need to process that I’m saying it*

The truth is I haven’t been perfect since leaving rehab. I’ve had a couple of, what they call “lapses”. And yet, I’m still far and away sober. I’m living my life significantly differently and reaping many benefits of that. But I haven’t been perfect all the time. I should of known I wouldn’t be. This does not mean I can drinking with you if it’s a half-assed, half-event where drinking serves as both excuse and endeavor. This might mean I can decide whether or not to partake instead of having that decision made for me by circumstance or the fallout of using my own voice.

It’s hard to identify as an addict–or someone who struggles with addictive tendencies–and not have every word that comes out of my mouth scrutinized for signs and symptoms.

I think I can drink occasionally. I think I can “save it for special occasions”. I think I can have just one. If I have to. Maybe. I think lots of things they say addicts tell themselves. So then I think I’m an addict. But I still think I could probably have just one (er, two). I can definitely drink for a night and be okay. Why not?

Maybe you are nodding along. Maybe you are witnessing the hell that is life inside of my head.

I can’t explain why these convergent ideas can be simultaneously valid and true, but they can. I can value sobriety about almost all else and still pour myself a drink. I can rearrange my whole life for my newfound recovery and still be the principle problem in my own health and wellness plan. I can stay sober through a week of social gatherings, only to drink alone and wish I’d had said fuck it seven days ago. I can hold both of these ideas.

Can you?

Can any of us, really? Because these are the question of addiction, or treatment, or recovery, questions of policy and welfare and society. Can we handle the realities of this? Should we lock it away? Drug it away? Persecute it beyond recognition. Whitewash it?  What shall we do with the struggle of drugs and alcohol in a world that seemingly revolves around it?

You really need to watch The History Channel’s “America’s War on Drugs”.

One thought on “I Present Myself.

  1. Ashley,
    I just started following you after reading an article you wrote that was in the Elephant Journal, I think? Your writing is so beautifully raw and honest. I appreciate that and respect it so much. My struggles are different than your struggles, but I think struggles are what connect us all together. I used to live a life of absolutes…things were either right or wrong, good or bad…no gray area anywhere. Funny thing, I lived in a world of lies and secrets and deception from the very beginning as a child until getting divorced at 30.
    Life is really a million different shades of gray…except in my wardrobe, my sister says gray isn’t my color. Anyways, I just wanted you to know, I appreciate what you share and how you are trying to do the best you can by living an open and honest life. We all are a little bit fucked up and that’s okay. So thanks, do you…you’re doing great.

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