“Tell me your secrets and ask me your questions,
oh, lets go back to the start”
– Coldplay, The Scientist.
If there was ever a song I could sing to myself, it would be this. The journey to sobriety is not unlike ending – or repairing – a relationship. The one you have with yourself. Getting back to yourself and talking to the you that you’ve spent so long estranged from.
The you that you left behind. The you you’ve buried under so much hurt, and guilt, and self abuse.
The you you’ve drowned in bottomless bottles.
My favourite version of this song is actually the cover by Tyler Ward, Kina Grannis, and love of my life, Lindsey Stirling. Hit play and listen, because it’s the most beautiful soundtrack and the inspiration for this written confession. I would love for you to read this while the song plays – because it has a way of working it’s way into your soul.
“I had to find you, tell you I need you”
Finding yourself again is hard. Telling yourself you need yourself is even harder. Giving yourself worth, and forgiving yourself for not being perfect. I can’t put my finger on the day I walked away. The day I gave up. The day that alcohol put its hand on my shoulder and changed my course. I suppose it happened in a series of small abandonments; the accumulation of failures and disappointments, eventually turning into a mountain between who I was and who I turned into.
“Nobody said it was easy. It’s such a shame for us to part”
And then, I was gone. It’s hard to see yourself through a mountain.
Every drink another step away. Every hangover a wrong turn. Every day drinking another rash of poor decisions, another puzzle with so many missing pieces. And that’s the struggle of an alcoholic: you can see the big picture. The puzzle. But, you don’t have all the pieces, having dropped and lost so many on your way. You can’t possibly put it all back together when you no longer have all the parts.
“I was just guessing at numbers and figures,
pulling the puzzles apart”
Broken hearted and broke down, my own two hands pouring every drink, spending every penny and my own two feet taking every stumbling step away from myself…and not even knowing why. Perhaps in the drunken fog I’ve been looking for myself all along. Hoping one day to find my way back. Maybe one day I will, and I can have that conversation with myself that will answer all my questions as to how I got here.
How a glass of wine became more important than my own peace of mind.
“Tell me you love me. Come back and haunt me.
Oh, and I rush to the start”
It has everything to do with the haunting. The memories. The regrets. Everything you haven’t forgiven yourself for yet. All of your imperfections. Every time you have looked into the mirror of your current situation and it looked so different from that bigger vision of how your life would be, with no one to blame but yourself. Every time you’ve chosen being asleep over being awake, because being awake means thinking – and feeling. Every time you agreed with the ghosts that being numb was easier. And every one of those drinks that has made you numb. And here you are, still running in circles.
“Running in circles, chasing our tails, coming back as we are”
Addiction is the hardest fight I have ever had to fight. Not only are you trying to resist the temptation of the one thing that makes you exhale – but you are scratching back at the claws of depression that are trying to pull you back even further. Because “you don’t deserve it.” Because “who cares.” Because it’s just easier closing up, and bottoms up.
“Nobody said it was easy, no one ever said it would be this hard
Every alcoholic, deep down inside, wants to go back to the start, where it all began, and do so many things differently. It’s there – at the start – that we can confront the demons that help us lift the glass. It’s being lost in the meantime that prevents it. I would love nothing more than to sit down with 20-Years-Ago-Me and talk about the affair my alcoholic father had that messed up my concept of a healthy relationship. To go back to 10-Year-Old-Me and tell myself it’s alright to be confused about being gay. To have a phone call with 5-Years-Ago-Me and explain that I do not have to be everything to everybody. But unfortunately my only option is to talk to Today-Me and say that everything is going to be okay. Tell myself to hold my own hand, instead of a bottle of wine.
“Oh, come up to meet you, tell you I’m sorry, you don’t know how lovely you are”
Your relationship with yourself sets the tone for every other relationship you have. You don’t have to be a scientist to decode that. You do have to be strong, though, to forgive yourself. With addiction, comes guilt. That you haven’t been strong enough. That you are weak. That you’ve made so many mistakes. That your addiction gives you courage. It’s a horrible cycle, and the only cure is sitting down with yourself and saying you are sorry. Forgiving yourself. Building yourself up, instead of tearing yourself down. Every incomplete promise, every half-assed attempt, every unfulfilled goal – admitting to yourself that it’s okay, and that none of those things are who you are.
“You don’t know how lovely you are” is what every addict needs to hear.
“I’m going back to the start”
I don’t have an exact plan. But I do think I have turned around, a little bit. I’m taking steps to drink less, and forgive myself more. To commend myself, and stop condemning myself. To find my way somehow back to the start, so I can unchain myself from all those little things – which are the big things – that cause me to drink.
“Tell me you love me, come back and haunt me, oh, and I rush to the start.”
How I wish I could press rewind, and to walk backwards through time and see the definitive and ignored moments of my life in reverse. The effect before the cause. The result before the reason. How I’d have done so many things differently, but still, how many things I would do the same. I’d love to know the moment the path of my happily-ever-after turned into a car crash. That one thing that made me choose the different sliding door that led to addiction.
“Science and progress, do not speak as loud as my heart”
So – I’m no scientist, but I can’t wait for the day to rediscover the chemistry I once had with myself. To meet myself again. To forgive myself for once, and to find myself at a new start.