We all speak 'from the heart' don't we? It's something I considered I did all the time. I never gave it much thought, but I assumed I was communicating with the people around me in my life, work and play, with truth and integrity.
That's where I was wrong.
I found out in rehab that I speak from the head, not the heart. And that's where it all went so horribly wrong. As they say in some of the recovery fellowships I attend, 'my best thinking got me into addiction'. I'd like to add that 'my best feeling got me into my recovery'.
I realised once the prescription drugs were taken away, that I was terrified of feeling anything. ANYTHING.
I didn't want to feel sad, angry, humiliation, fear, resentment, longing, grief. The list was endless. It also includes all the 'good' emotions such as love, happiness, joy, bliss, excitement, passion or fulfilment, because they were scary as hell.
Imagine being terrified of joy....
I found this out while being asked to talk about myself in group therapy. I found I couldn't find any words, so fearful was I of showing me as I really was, with all my raging imperfections and dysfunctions. I had not connected with myself in years, in fact, I was using my fentanyl lozenges to escape as far away from the real 'me' as I could get.
Sitting in front of a room full of people who wanted to hear my story was the single hardest thing I've ever done. And they stayed with me, even though I tried to run from the room, and even locked myself in a bathroom beforehand to try to avoid being 'real'. How ridiculous, I think now, but at the time it felt like a form of 'death' because it was the death of my illusions about myself.
I wasn't what I thought I was, or what I wanted to be. I was just my 'self'. I wasn't an extrovert, the exact opposite, in fact. I wasn't cut out for travel writing, I felt lonely on the road. I wasn't a tabloid journalist, I felt guilt and remorse for the people whose lives were splashed on the pages. I wasn't a good daughter or sister, I'd lost touch with my family. I wasn't anything that I thought I was. I was a liar. I lied about who I was so that people wouldn't know the real me. How unutterably sad.
For the first time in a long time, I sat with those people and breathed, and felt the fear of becoming myself. Because that's the problem with recovery - you get to be yourself for the first time in a long time, if ever and it's not an easy journey. Coming to terms with my own Cathryn-ness is hard work, but such a relief. Knowing that I don't have to construct high walls around me, if I don't want to. Knowing that I don't have to pretend. Knowing that I can cheerfully admit I'm rubbish at some things, as long as I honour the things that are true to me.
Speaking from the heart.