Fear is what will keep an alcoholic drinking and it’s also what will cause us to relapse. There was a time not so long ago when I was afraid to drink, but terrified not to. I was afraid to face the real world, afraid to face myself and the many demons I had inside me. I had no idea who I really was and I was terrified to find out. I was afraid to allow myself to feel because feeling meant I was weak. Fear made me build huge walls around myself, and fear kept me from tearing them down brick by brink. Fear just about ran my life. On the out side, I appeared to be the most confidant person there was, but on the inside, I was afraid of everything. Alcohol gave me my confidence, it gave me refuge, it gave me peace (or so I thought) In reality, it just kept me running and I’ve learned you can’t run from yourself.
I locked myself away when I was twelve years old and spent the remainder of my life being someone I wanted the world to see. I wore masks my entire life so when I got sober at the age of 40, I’d spent more than half of my life wearing masks and I didn’t know how to live life without them. When I finally did decided to get sober, the thought petrified me, but the pain and desperation I felt was far worse than the fear. It took me some time and learning how to love myself to realize that I allowed those fears to paralyze me and I had no choice but to face them. I still can’t put into words “who” I am, I’m still working on that, but I can say for sure that it doesn’t scare me anymore. I’ve been coming out of my shell ever so slowly. I’ve learned how to love myself and allow others to love me.
I’m still afraid of things, but I have healthy fears today. I’m afraid of relapsing, I KNOW I have another relapse in me, but what I don’t have, is another recovery. If I go back out, I know for a fact I will drink myself to death. I still don’t like to feel emotions, but I’m afraid that if I go back to bottling them up, it won’t be too long before I explode and seek refuge in a bottle. Allowing myself to go back to any of my old behavior can cause that reaction. I am equally terrified of going back to the person that I was back then. I was broken, miserable and felt nothing but self-loathing for myself. I genuinely like the person I’m becoming. I can look in the mirror today and no longer be sickened by the person looking back at me.
It’s normal to be unsure and afraid when thinking about going into recovery. Giving in to that fear will be a down fall though. Think about it, what there to be afraid of? In the mists of our addictions we’ve all been to hell in one way or another. So what exactly is there to be afraid of? There’s a whole world out there waiting for you to conquer, get out there and start living. You don’t have to let your fears of the unknown hold you captive. You are being held prisoner and your fears are what keeps you there. Our fears and our secrets keep us sick. Asking for and seeking help does not mean that you are weak, it means that you are strong enough to know you can’t do this on your own. With every day that you pick up that bottle, you’re playing Russian roulette with your life, what the hell is scarier than that?? No one is exempt from falling victim from this disease. To think otherwise would be a foolish move. Make no mistake, the disease WILL kill you. Sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, but it will happen. If you allow your fears to keep you from getting and staying sober, trust and believe it’ll keep getting worse, never better. You are the only one who can make that decision, no one can make it for you.
AJ Menendez, Master Male Illusionist