Average Is Ok But Outstanding Is Real

gift of god

No two rock bottoms are the same. The point where we decide that we simply cannot keep hurting ourselves looks different for everyone. This is important because some of us struggle with our perception of what alcoholism looks like.

My first year of sobriety, I considered myself an “average” drunk because even though there was no question in my mind that I needed to stop drinking, my rock bottom wasn’t as dramatic as other alcoholics I’ve known or heard about. I never got a DUI, always held a good job and paid my bills, and rarely got so drunk that I was out of control. I created a stereotype in my mind of what an alcoholic looked like and I was very good at making sure I didn’t fit the stereotype.

In year two of sobriety, I’ve come to think of myself as a recovering master manipulator and phony. That sounds like such a harsh thing to say about myself but the realization is a wonderful thing. You see, I wasn’t just an average drunk, I was an average human being. I’m a classic over-achieving under-achiever. I’ve never been excellent at anything and I’ve never seriously failed at anything. I spent most of my life working hard to stay perfectly in the middle, just under the radar and average. Drinking offered me a brief release from my chosen mediocrity.

Even as a child, I was skeptical of compliments. If I was praised too highly, I knew the person was lying because I was sure I wasn’t great at anything. Good at some things, yes. Great, talented, gifted, no. The truth is, I really did have a gift for art and music and when I think about the joy I missed out on because I was fearful of being recognized, it breaks my heart. I’ve never been one to wish that I could relive my life because I absolutely would want to end up exactly where I am, but a little part of me wishes that the little girl Karen could get a do-over to love herself, to see herself as worthy of her dad telling her, “Karen, you’re such a wonderful artist!” Because I was a wonderful artist and so much more.

I chose to stay average because that’s where I felt most comfortable and that’s where it was safe to hide. When I became an adult, I worked only as hard as I had to, shined only as long as necessary and kept myself just out of the ordinary enough to stay interesting.

I wonder if I had I let myself be an outstanding drunk, if maybe I would’ve seen my problem sooner. Maybe, but maybe not. I can honestly say that I didn’t know I needed to stop drinking until the day I stopped drinking. I was just too good at manipulating my reality and being a phony that I didn’t see the truth until there was no choice but to see it. I wonder if it’s like finding out when you’re an adult that you were adopted. Once you know it’s true, it seems so obvious. All the little hints and deceptions make sense. Except instead of someone telling me that something big was being kept from me, I was keeping it from myself.

On August 1, 2011, I was ready to see the truth. I was also ready to stop being so average. I was ready to risk feeling, to live, to cry out loud, to love so much it hurts and to sit with it and through it.

As year two of my sobriety comes to a close, I have big plans for year three. I’m going to celebrate my voice, let creativity set my soul free and praise God with my gifts. I’m done being average. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.

13 Comments on “Average Is Ok But Outstanding Is Real

  1. Though I get the thought that “no two rock bottoms looks the same,” I do think that lack of awareness is the core issue within all compulsive disorders. Anxiety relief is at the core of compulsion; becoming aware of the anxiety really shouldn’t require any “rock bottom.”

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    • To me, rock bottom means the point where we realize that life can’t go on the way it has been. It’s actually a hopeful place, maybe even the final hopeful place before we lose hope completely. If only it was as simple as relieving anxiety! Thanks for your comment.

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  2. “Once you know it’s true, it seems so obvious. All the little hints and deceptions make sense. Except instead of someone telling me that something big was being kept from me, I was keeping it from myself.” Aaahhh… deep denial. Such a powerful thing. I had no idea what I was doing with my drinking (squashing down my emotions) until a month AFTER I had stopped drinking. So powerful was my denial.. or was it blissful ignorance? Whatever the case it all seems so bleeding obvious now. Of course that’s what I was doing. But I had no idea. None whatsoever. One of the many amazing revelations to have struck me after I got sober. Struck sober. Great post xxxx

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    • Denial is so powerful. When I try to pinpoint when I became an alcoholic, the only conclusion I come to is that it was with my first sip. From that point on, I protected my right to numb with whatever tools I had (lying, denial, etc.). I’m glad I’m not the only one who had no clue whatsoever! Only in hindsight does it seem obvious.

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  3. Amen to that! Im convinced fear is at the root of our drinking. I love your resolve and strength – you go girl!

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    • I can certainly say that’s true for me. I thought that alcohol made my anxiety and fear more manageable but there came a point when it was obvious that it was making it worse. Thanks for the encouragement!!

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  4. “Except instead of someone telling me that something big was being kept from me, I was keeping it from myself.” … my favorite line. Karen these past two posts have been incredible reading for me. It’s just so crazy how I find a little more of me when I read you.

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    • Thank you Lisa! I know what you mean because I feel the same from your posts. Sharing our stories is so important and we’ll often never know how much.

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  5. Our own self perceptions are so different from what others perceive – of all the people I have met in my life – you always stood out as different, talented, gifted, unique and very sparkly special. You are insanely intelligent- wonderfully beautiful – crazy creative – an amazing writer and possess a way with words that I always envied.

    I think you always shine and I’m glad that you are now more open to allowing yourself to see how truly fabulous you are –

    This post reminded me of this BAD song –

    Everythings not always great
    Sometimes it`s just fine
    No one gets ten out of ten
    Lucky if it`s nine
    No I ain`t the greatest
    Sure there`s imperfections
    And if you gave me a test
    Might not pass the inspection
    Everythings not always great
    Sometimes it`s just fine
    I ain`t with the 100 crowd
    I`m with the 99

    Nobody is perfect
    Of this I am sure
    I looked into the mirror
    And I saw the floor

    You can draw your own conclusion
    But I`ll tell you mine
    I ain`t with the 100 crowd
    I`m with the 99

    Nobody is perfect
    That ain`t no jive
    No one gets ten out of ten
    You gotta strive for five
    I won`t say that I`m the best
    That you ever had
    But the bit that has been good
    Sure outweights the bad
    Nobody is perfect
    Tell you I don`t mind
    If you ain`t in the 100 crowd
    Join the 99
    Got me some ambition
    Just like all the rest
    And I got a mission
    But I`d settle for less

    You can draw your own conclusion
    But I`ll tell you mine
    I ain`t with the 100 crowd
    I`m with the 99
    I ain`t with the 100 crowd
    I`m with the 99

    Hey hey now
    Everythings not always great
    Everythings not always great
    Sometimes it`s just fine
    Sometimes it`s just fine
    No one gets ten out of ten
    Lucky if it`s nine

    Everythings not always great
    Everythings not always great
    Sometimes it`s just fine
    Sometimes it`s just fine
    No one gets ten out of ten
    Lucky if it`s nine
    Hey hey now

    Everythings not always great
    Everythings not always great
    Sometimes it`s just fine
    Sometimes it`s just fine
    No one gets ten out of ten
    Lucky if it`s nine

    Everythings not always great
    Everythings not always great
    Sometimes it`s just fine
    Sometimes it`s just fine
    No one gets ten out of ten
    Lucky if it`s nine

    Like

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