So another month another book – the final one downloaded onto my kindle relating to recovery before I pause and allow all of this reading to be internalised and processed. Out of the shadows, out of the shame indeed.
Claudia Black’s book Changing Course is about recovery and as the book is described:
“Claudia Black extends a helping hand to individuals working their way through the painful experience of being raised with addiction. “How do you go from living according to the rules – Don’t Talk, Don’t Trust, Don’t Feel – to a life where you are free to talk and trust and feel?” Black asks. “You do this through a process that teaches you to go to the source of those rules, to question them, and to create new rules of your own,” she explains. Using charts, exercises, checklists, and real-life stories of adult children of alcoholics, Black carefully and expertly guides readers in healing from the fear, shame, and chaos of addiction.”
This particular section really struck me and so I’m sharing it here:
Recovery is living a life free from shame. It is recognising that you are not your secret; you are not your family secrets. You are a person with a myriad of experiences, some of them very painful. But, the pain of exposing the secret very, very rarely compares to the pain of keeping the secret. And once the knowledge is shared, the relief feels like the warmth of the summer sun after a very long, cold winter.
The following are some of the reasons people reveal secrets:
- It relieves a burden. You no longer have to continue to lie to others. The secret has made life more difficult. It is no longer necessary to spend any more energy keeping it.
- It allows you to be true to yourself. It allows you to be honest with yourself.
- It prevents a possible surprise discovery. Some secrets are shared to lesson the shock or surprise that would be created if a significant other found out.
- It enables you to have a more honest relationship with another. When you share a secret with someone, you are conveying the added message that you trust them with something very important to you. You are sharing at a more vulnerable level and that often creates in the other person a reciprocal willingness to be open and vulnerable. The result is that a greater trust develops between the two of you.
- It stimulates family change. When you decide to speak up, other family members are encouraged to make changes in their own lives.
- It could be a plea for help. When the secret you confide still needs to be attended too (for example, if you are drinking too much and not yet in recovery), telling another person is a way for you to begin to move yourself towards getting help.
Recovery does not include secrecy. It means speaking your truth. You must end the Don’t Talk rule for yourself.
This is all so true for me and I carried such shame around my drinking. At approaching 4 years in recovery my shame is almost non-existent. A friend recently asked me if I was still not drinking. I said that I wasn’t and that it held absolutely no appeal to me now. I now know deep in my soul that drinking would not improve or make any situation better. To be free from the shame is a gift that one drink can never compete with, and that is all it would take to undo it all. If you’re reading this and think you’re drinking too much, reach out to someone and share your secret. It could be the most powerful thing you could do for yourself.