When I first got sober, I couldn’t have a basic conversation with people. If you said “hi” to me or even looked in my direction, I would crawl out of my skin. I was incapable of making connections. I was the person who made everyone else in the room uneasy just because I was in it.
My anxiety was so bad I couldn’t sit still, and at times, I felt like I couldn’t breathe. But I didn’t let this stop me. I started placing myself in situations that made me uncomfortable. I remember the very first time I told my story. It was at Mountainside. I was so nervous that I was shaking. I don’t think I spoke for more than 10 minutes. I was so upset with myself. I thought that I had done a terrible job but when I sat down something happened, people started raising their hands and sharing based on things that I said. I couldn’t believe it. I had finally started to find my voice.
For so long, I was afraid to speak my truth. I worried about how people would perceive me or how they would react. I hated hurting people’s feelings, and I did not want anyone to dislike me. This kept me trapped within myself. Walking through the fear and being vulnerable enough to allow people to get a glimpse of the real me was a freeing feeling.
Because I am living my truth and just being who I am, today I can get up in front of a room of a 100 people and not feel like I am going to pass out. With the support and guidance of those around me, I learned how to just be me. Being authentic takes practice. It is not something that happens overnight. So, the next time you find yourself wanting to walk away from something that brings the feeling of fear, rise to the challenge. #GoBeyond and remember that the only way out is through.
If you want to learn more about how to share your story or become an advocate for the recovery movement, join me on March 10th in Wilton for an interactive workshop.