From my earliest memories, I was a fearful person. While you might not have guessed it from looking at me (I was an extremely outgoing and friendly child), I was afraid of pretty much everything. A lot of those were typically the usual fears of children my age – I was afraid of monsters underneath the bed, ghosts in the attic, being teased by the other kids.
But a lot of my fears were bigger than that. I didn’t fully understand where they came from, but I knew that they terrified me: the fear that I would never amount to anything, the fear that I would never be able to reach my goals, the fear that I would never be loved, the fear of being honest and vulnerable, the fear that I was different from everyone else.,,,and so on and so forth.
These fears were only exacerbated and validated when I was drinking and using. It was a vicious cycle – the drinking and using only confirmed what a failure I was, that I was unlovable, that I was flawed. But because I was drinking and using, I was unable to do anything to counteract these fears.
Then I found recovery. It was a slow and painful process, but recovery gave me the courage to face and conquer a number of the fears I had been carrying around with me my whole life.
THE FEAR OF NOT BEING GOOD ENOUGH
I can’t remember a time in my life when I felt like just being me was enough. I always strived to be someone else – someone better, someone smarter, and someone more beautiful. Through the process of recovery, I have been able to let go of the fear that anything less than perfect is not good enough. Perfect doesn’t exist. Being Deanna is enough.
THE FEAR OF NEVER REACHING MY GOALS
There were always things that I wanted to do – places I wanted to visit, milestones I wanted to hit, goals I wanted to reach. But my fear paralyzed me, especially during my active drinking and using. My goals were a fantasy, and they seemed impossible to achieve.
In recovery, I have been able not only to set goals and achieve them, but to exceed anything that I ever thought possible. I have an amazing career. I have traveled to amazing places. I finished a marathon. Now, when I set a goal, I know it’s only a matter of time before I achieve it, as long as I’m willing to put in the work.
THE FEAR OF RELATIONSHIPS
This was a double-edged sword for me. I was always afraid of being alone, but I was also incredibly afraid of letting anyone in. So all of my relationships were very superficial – I usually had people around (most often to drink with), but I never felt truly close to anyone. It was incredibly lonely.
Now, I have been able to push through my fear of letting other people in, and as a result, I have amazing people in my life that know and love me for exactly who I am. I am open and vulnerable and they are the same, and because of this I feel closeness and a bond with them that I never experienced before recovery.
THE FEAR OF SUCCESS
This was a tricky one. I thought that I wanted to be successful, but I was afraid (this piggy backed off of the fear of not being good enough). And because I was afraid, I ended up sabotaging any chance that I had in success.
In recovery, I am not afraid of success anymore – I thrive on it and actively pursue it on a daily basis. And I mean success in all ways – success at work, success in my relationships, success in achieving my goals. I have the self confidence to know that not only should I not be afraid of success, but that I DESERVE it.
HOW RECOVERY HELPED
Recovery opened the door to a lot of self-exploration and discovery. It forced me to challenge the validity of my deep seeded beliefs. I started to look at all of the fears I had been carrying with me, see them for what they are, acknowledge how they were holding me back, and ultimately let them go.
It wasn’t easy, and I haven’t completely overcome all of the things that scare me. But I have come a long way, and I today I can say that through recovery, I am no longer a person who lives in fear.