I’m an In-Between Woman: The Trials and Tribulations of Being Sober and (Still) Crazy
My hallway smells like tuna and Lysol. I am both amused and ashamed as I pick up the last remaining pieces of the ceramic plate I just hurled at the wall. I’m relieved I found the energy for such erratic behavior. I’m sad I chose to waste it, destroying my lunch (and drywall) in the process.
In these moments, I personify the term “too much” woman. A cliché label which describes the dramatic, dark and emotional side of the feminine. While meant to be an insult, I have always found the term endearing, and often worried that eliminating alcohol would rob me of the precious fuel which transported me to my shadow side.
Alcohol shattered my subtle and compliant identity, forcing me to look behind the mask I wore to please the world. For that, I will be eternally grateful. While drinking, I no longer played small; but the yelling, acts of retaliation and beyond inappropriate methods of managing conflict were not authentic either.
Finding Your Authentic Self
At six years sober, I am both relieved and embarrassed to admit, I am almost as unpredictable now as I was after 10 shots of Jameson.
The difference is, I love myself, and my outlandish behavior comes with a side of respect and appreciation for other people and where they are in their journey. The fact I can speak (or yell) in coherent-full sentences, is another perk of sobriety. My viewpoints may not all be agreeable, but at least now they are understandable, and in English.
I am learning to embrace my voice, and trusting myself to use it. Like many women, I grew up believing it was safer to stay quiet and small, but came to find out every action (or in-action) has a consequence. Mine showed up as frequent strep throat, which I now believe was a manifestation of trauma due to silencing my voice on a daily basis.
But it doesn’t stop there. The eating disorders, addiction to appetite-suppressing stimulants and constant dieting were nothing more than my surrender to a world which tells women to shrink.
We waste our lives and our money trying to mimic an ever-changing, never attainable, idealization of beauty created for the sole purpose of supporting a billion dollar industry that has shit on women since the birth of advertising.
And after we have exhausted all resources “fixing” our outward appearance, we learn there are rules dictating our internal landscape as well.
“Too Much” Women: Emotions Are Not Our Enemy
“Too much” women are commonly diagnosed with personality disorders such as Borderline or Histrionic, and made to believe there is something inherently wrong with “feeling.”
We need to remember, these labels simply indicate a maladaptive pattern of responding to stress. The issue isn’t our emotions, it’s our problematic reaction to them. Emotions are not our enemy. They are an alert system to help us identify when our thoughts or actions are out of alignment with our true and authentic selves.
When we observe our thoughts and emotions, we can learn from them, rather than becoming them. We are subject to the unhealthy aspects of a “too much” personality when we react, rather than respond. We must remember, we are not the bitch in the attic (A.K.A. the monkey mind) who is constantly judging, criticizing and whining about our existence. We don’t need to burn the place down simply because we feel slighted, underappreciated or abandoned.
We are not victims. We are the consciousness below the incessant chatter in our minds.
“The Language of Emotions” by Karla McLaren, is a valuable tool when attempting to embrace, not suppress, our feelings. Every emotion has a clear and concise message…if we take the time to investigate its origin. Anger asks us to explore what needs to be protected; shame prompts us to examine what needs to be forgiven; depression lets us know our energy has disappeared and our work is to discover why it was sent away.
As Tara Brach says, “Emotions may feel real, but they are not necessarily true.” They require honest investigation, void of the negative or shaming stories we tend to attach to them. By making friends with my emotions, I have been able to find that precious balance between a soft whisper and full-blown tantrum.
I am proud to be an “In-between woman.”
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