YOUR PERMAGRIN IS A SOBRIETY AND RECOVERY PLATFORM founded by Courtney Leonard, Sobriety Life Coach and Personal Blogger, in order to provide help and resources to those in, entering, or trying to navigate through recovery.
Regardless of where you are on your journey, Your Permagrin is here to help you live your best life!
IN 2016 WHEN I GOT SOBER, I WAS LIVING THE LIFE OF MY DREAMS.
I lived in a town where the beach, the mountains, and the city were all within driving distance.
I had tons of friends, an active social life, a great husband, happy kids, a loving family, and a booming career working for one of the top tech companies in Silicon Valley.
I WAS, TO SAY THE LEAST, AT THE TOP OF MY GAME.
AT LEAST THAT'S WHAT IT LOOKED LIKE TO EVERYONE ON THE OUTSIDE.
BUT ON THE INSIDE, I WAS DYING.
I was in pain.
I LOATHED THE person that I was.
The sassy and sarcastic, happy-go-lucky woman who appeared to have it all together, who came off as self-confident and self-assured, who people leaned on as a valuable team player at work?
THAT SAME WOMAN just 12 hours earlier was pounding drinks as if she had the metabolism and the body of a linebacker.
THE PICTURE OF PERFECT HEALTH, THE ONE WITH THE CALIFORNIA GLOW AND THE YOGA MAT TUCKED NEATLY UNDER HER ARM?
That same picture of perfect health was, just 12 hours earlier, chain-smoking while drunk-dialing random some-what friends.
FAR FROM THE PICTURE OF PERFECT HEALTH.
AND WHO, DESPITE WHAT THE OUTSIDE WORLD SAW, woke up every morning anxiety-ridden, filled with guilt, shame and remorse sitting in the pit of her stomach with what felt like the equivalent of a truck parked on her head.
AN 18-WHEELER TO BE EXACT.
AND WHO, DESPITE ALL OF THAT, WAS GOING TO DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN TONIGHT.
MY PERSONAL RECOVERY BLOG - YOUR PERMGARIN
Heavy drinking among women rose 41% by September of 2020, and experts blame the pandemic.
And I had a lot of guilt and shame when I quit drinking.
Nothing like the guilt and shame I had while I was drinking.
IT WAS - DIFFERENT.
Shame during my drinking days was always an ever-present feeling in the pit of my stomach, but was something that I certainly didn’t expect to persist once I quit.
Once I researched the hell out of this newly found shame (like I do everything else) , I discovered that it's more common than not.
It's a 'thing'. A common occurrence.
Of course for the most part, many of us carry some level of shame for our past Jeckyll & Hyde.
Working through and beyond that side of shame is what our journey through recovery is for.
This new shame took me by surprise. And I'm just starting to deal with it.
I DID THE RIGHT THING; NOW WHY AM I SO AFRAID SOMEONE WILL FIND OUT?
We fellow heavy drinkers, alcoholics, people with drinking ‘issues’ - whatever your preferred label - seem to have a common theme going when it comes to feeling embarrassed and fearful that others will find out that we are in recovery.
Can you relate to what I'm saying, or is it just me?
I've been secretive and embarrassed that I'm in recovery since skulking into my first meeting - my 'other' life.
SO WHY? Is it because we don't talk about recovery enough?
WE NEED MORE WOMEN AND MORE PEOPLE IN GENERAL TALKING ABOUT RECOVERY
We carry more shame over getting sober, more fear of being outed or discovered, than we do when it comes to being ashamed about that drunken night that we hardly remember (our friends filled us in on what we said and did).
The night where we didn’t just dance with a lampshade on our head, we dropped the lamp, tripped over it, broke it, fell on it, and got stitches in our chin.
SHOULDN'T IT JUST BE THAT SIMPLE?
INSTEAD WE (OR AT LEAST I) TREATED IT AS IF IT WAS SOMETHING 'BAD' - HORRIFIED AT THE THOUGHT OF SOMONE FINDING OUT.
Perplexing, isn’t it?
Since launching my blog, I’ve had friends say that they loved learning more about my sobriety; that they knew I didn't drink, but they didn’t 'know know'.
If you’re like me, you get what I’m saying.
'SO TELL ME ABOUT THIS LAMP.'
Don't judge me.
when I told my hairdresser about my blog, what my website was all about, and that I was sober.
There was really no getting around that part.
He was immediately intrigued and I knew before he even told me that he was in recovery too.
This is a guy I've known for probably about five years; we see each other for about 2 1/2 hours every 5-6 weeks. He knows a lot about my life.
After all, don't we tell our hairdressers everything?
Everything except this.
It wasn't lost on me that as I was telling him, I lowered my already-muffled masked voice to as close to a whisper as I could get, blowdryers whizzing in the background, afraid the stranger four chairs down would hear me, or that SOMEONE, ANYONE would hear me.
As if I was confessing some deep, dark secret about a crime I committed years ago.
His voice, behind his doubled-up mask, lowered to a whisper too. And so there we were, both of us sober, something to be proud of, whispering because why? Whispering because who might hear us?
I don't think we know who we were trying to be quiet for. It's just how we do it.
At least that how I've been accustomed to treating my sobriety.
I grew up in an alcoholic home. I saw A LOT of drunk and disorderly behavior.
It made me grow up really fast; too fast. I’ve been in therapy for most of my life per my own doing, and there are things at the very core of who I am that are changed because of the environment that I grew up in.
And that’s okay - now.
But the point is that I grew up carrying around the weight of a secret - one that I had NO REASON to be ashamed about. I just didn't know any better.
And it was a shameful secret; one that I had no control over.
The only 'control' I had over it (or what felt like control) was to make sure no one found out about that part of my life and to learn to be an expert at carrying that shame around with me wherever I went.
And I did the same thing with my recovery and sobriety.
The more we say where we've been, where we are, and how we got here, the more we empower others to tell their stories.
Each time I’ve been open and honest about my story, it inevitably leads to someone who speaks up and says,
‘That happened to me too,’
‘I did that too,’
‘I’m in recovery too,'
’I grew up with alcoholic parents too.’
THAT WE BEGIN TO FEEL THE SENSE OF PRIDE THAT WE SHOULD HAVE BEEN FEELING ALL ALONG!
I'm very afraid of being vulnerable, and so sharing my story hasn't always been easy.
I've told my story to other recovery people; I've never just put it out there.
I'm putting it out there.
No turning back at this point.
My sense is that people are dying for us to talk about it more, men, women, moms, dads, athletes, anyone.
We're bombarded with 'perfect' imagery day in and day out - stats say the average young person views more than 3000 ads per day on television (TV), on the Internet, on billboards, and in magazines! Holy sh*t.
Yeah, definitely time to be real, be vulnerable, remove the filters and masks we've become so accustomed to.
What do we have to lose?
EVERYTHING YOU NEED DELIVERED IN A CONDENSED PACKAGE!
I absolutely love a good TED talk! They’re nice and short, but just long enough to really hit home.
Brene Brown calls shame an unspoken epidemic; she has delved into the topics of that and of vulnerability in her TED Talk.
It’s absolutely worth the 20 minutes, and she has a way of presenting an idea or topic that us that keeps you engaged and interested.
There's a reason people like Brene are booked for years to come; people want to learn how to heal and get better.
‘THE ANONYMOUS PEOPLE
’The movie ‘The Anonymous People’ also speaks to the same theme.
It addresses the 12-Step culture and how anonymity is embraced.
It highlights the fact that this approach is quite beneficial in the beginning for those new to sobriety (which was true for me); however, alcoholics over time who are in long-term recovery may become slightly paranoid about revealing to anyone at all that they are sober (also true for me as this is how I was ‘raised’ in sobriety).
We did not speak of it to those outside of our circle.
Or at least I didn’t.
I spoke ONLY to my sponsor, people I knew from recovery, and my very close family members about recovery. And it was very limited with my family. I feel like I acted very 'secretive' about meetings. I obviously would not say if I saw someone at the meeting that my husband knew, but I was also pretty tight-lipped in general about what the topic was.
Otherwise, no one knew I was in recovery.
And I carried a lot of shame over being in recovery.
I’m working through that still because I’m so accustomed to being ‘anonymous’.
I’m still struggling with a slight feeling of betrayal, as if I'm doing something wrong by voicing the truth about my recovery.
The key to the movie is that it discusses a movement taking place with individuals publicly proclaiming ‘I am in long-term recovery’ and saying it with the pride and accomplishment that they very well deserve.
LET GO OF SHAME
As I begin getting accustomed to being open about this aspect of my life, my hope is that those in the same boat might have their shame turn into pride as well, because we've been brave enough to admit that we're changing the direction of our lives.
That we’re taking charge of the path we’re on.
And THERE IS ZERO SHAME in that. Period.
MORE POSTS, WHERE YOU'LL FIND:
'Shame is an unspoken epidemic.'
Brené Brown explores what can happen when people confront their shame head-on. Her own humor, humanity and vulnerability shine through every word.
Our culture associates vulnerability with emotions that we desperately want to avoid such as fear, shame, and uncertainty. But vulnerability is also the birthplace of joy, belonging, creativity, authenticity, and love.