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  • Lisa Ferguson


Sharing about myself was nerve racking for most of my life. I would share and then, review, ruminate, and wish to redo. Was it because I wasn't present most of the day? I was, as they say, stuck inside my head and subsequently missing out on life. Was it due to my mother criticizing me as a child and that put me into my head for part of the day? Being self-conscious is no joke, but my case was extreme.

Here I am, surviving and flourishing after addiction. In a way that works for me, I attend 12 step meetings where sharing about our day, our lives and ourselves is a norm. When I started in 12-step, whenever I raised my hand, I didn't have the bravery it takes to "free-fall" in my speech. I thought out what I had to say. I curated who I was for the group because most of my thoughts were about fear, and I was sick of seeking solace from them and maybe, I thought, they were sick of giving it. They weren't there to save me, they were there to save themselves and hold my hand as I saved myself. I wanted a mommy and daddy to do it for me. I had to grow up and learn for myself that the world was waiting for me to contribute.

12 step is a safe place to grow but you have got to be willing to prudently stick your neck out. I practiced with my sponsor (another brilliant thing that 12-step has to offer the shy in need of accountability and guidance)) which was a safe place for me. If I shared in the rooms, my heart always raced after I shared and I second guessed myself constantly which slowed, twisted or skipped some of my thoughts. Yet, here was a place where judgement was kinder and gentler because the stakes are high and the people focus on critiquing themselves, not me. Yet I never let my brain loose because, well, it was on fire. In fight or flight mode which is not the best starter for a heart-felt share.

My sponsor made me feel safe and until she moved away, I was still sober. I could whine to my therapist. She used her best logic to help me through whatever crisis of the moment I had, but how would I stay sober without my people? Most of the time, I wasn't spontaneous, and I longed to relax, to belly laugh. Things did get better. On days when being at ease came my way, I wasn't so exhausted at the end of the day.

I was jealous of the people who had parents that wanted them to tell them stories. They had been practicing since childhood. Me, I had years sober, but I was still inhibited. I found small meetings. They worked for me. When I share, I share so people can get to know me, the real me.

Or so I thought. Then I tried EMDR. Eye movement desensitization response. I cannot imagine what it was like to share and be at ease until I did EMDR. It took a long time for me to go through all my fears because there were years of physical and mental abuse to offload. The world is so different to me. I love people. I love to share my stories and I find the world safe and welcoming.

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Feb 12, 2023

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