I have not had a drink in over a decade. Yet, I still refer to myself as an alcoholic. An alcoholic in recovery, but nonetheless, an alcoholic. I am also many other things. I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a yogi, and yes, even a huge Monopoly enthusiast. The difference is none of those hats that I wear humble me to remembering that I am no better and no worse than anyone else.
One thing I can say with certainty is that everyone has their stuff. Granted, there is a spectrum, but no one is immune to the causalities of life. That is because we are human. And sometimes, somehow, if we manage to get through the tough stuff, it is easy to forget it, to deny it, to repress it. Whatever we do with it, there is a tendency to think we are better than others because we have climbed out of the trenches.
We start to separate ourselves from our struggles, claiming to be less like those in our shadows than we really are. We cling to what gives us the refuge that we will never be like the 'others' that are the black sheep of our society.
However, if we really think about it; if we are really honest with ourselves, we can see that we have more similarities to others than differences. Life is a lot like a Monopoly game. We can do our best, but three dice rolls and an undesirable Chance card later, we find ourselves facing a completely different fortune. That is why we must give tolerance, empathy, and kindness to others. No one should have to prove their worthiness to receive these basic human needs.
We have to help others just as we would help ourselves.
People often ask about the bad memories, the shame that may accompany the title of an alcoholic. Haven't I moved past it? That's just not the way I see it.
I am simply human. I have fears. I have insecurities. I also have immeasurable strength and resilience -- like each and every one of us.
And I am reminded of my strengths. I lived through some excruciatingly hard times. My life was openly on the line in many instances. And through it all, those that did embrace me, could care less my gender, my education, the color of my skin, from where I came, or even my age. They cared that I was suffering and needed help. And that debt is not to be repaid, it is only to be paid forward.
We all come from different families, different experiences and have a different outlook on life. And that's the beauty of being stripped from the categorical appearances, and having to rely on something inside of ourselves beyond our fears and surface judgments. At that moment, it's not about the clothes you wear or what you look like. It's not about how much money you have or don't have. It's not even about politics or religion. It's about being human. It's about seeing the likenesses, not the differences.
We can sit from the sidelines, in our glass houses, criticizing the lives of others. We can build fences from those that are different than us, surrounding us in an illusion of security. Or we can break down the barriers, find compassion, learn about others, and maybe learn a little about ourselves along the way.
And the more power we give to the agents of fear, blindly following to deceptively assure our own security, the more we deny ourselves. I don't want to live in denial. Been there, done that. Life is short. I want to live in freedom, kindness and happiness. When we give these gifts to others, we are also bringing them to ourselves, making for a more peaceful existence.
I am a mother, a wife, a friend, a daughter, a yogi, a Monopoly enthusiast; I am Sarah, and I am (still) an alcoholic.