Those are really tough words to articulate at times, especially when you know deep down that the words are not enough. That the words will do absolutely nothing to fix a mistake. That the words are just a shred of the real feelings within.
When I look back on all the souls I have hurt because of drunken decisions, I still sometimes get a little bit woozy.
On the day-to-day, people know me as a happy, go-lucky kind of gal. People have highlighted that I’m always smiling, always cheerful, respectful, and simply sweet.
Would you believe that when I was drunk, I was the complete opposite? I was sad, angry, careless, and sometimes just downright mean.
I was also someone who got caught up in being the center-of-attention. When I drank, it was the “Alison Show” and nothing would stop me from the spotlight. Whether it was being excessively wild and crazy, dramatic, talking way too much, sharing too much, or even starting an argument, I had to have the attention. Every. Single. Bit.
That spotlight and who I became when I drank caused a great deal of damage. My (mind)altered persona affected relationships, and most certainly hurt those closest to me one too many times.
From blackout behavior, to not showing up, to massive blowups, to mistakes that are too personal for this space, it’s been really hard to muster up the courage to say, “I’m sorry.” Like, really hard! Because when I say those words, I am admitting absolute fault and stupidity, selfishness, fear, insecurity, jealousy, trauma, resentment, immaturity, self-hatred… and so much more.
Saying “I’m sorry” for pain or damage that I, and only I, caused another individual is heartbreaking, at the very least. Even more so, because I was in a state-of-mind that was not my own. My brain was rewired by a villain, and the villain left a mark possibly never to be reversed.
Although I’m not an AAer, I am familiar with the 12 Steps. I know that one step is to admit our own faults. Another is to write down all the people we hurt and how we hurt them. Then there is the step of making amends, if it does not harm the other.
However, in my sobriety journey, my amends have been anything but linear.
At the beginning (of every major downfall), there were immediate “I’m sorry’s” to my husband, close friends, and those that have helped (both reluctantly and willingly). Those “I’m sorry’s” were said out of sheer shame and embarrassment. Those apologies were shaky and fearful. I was more than lost at what to say because how do you begin to ask for forgiveness when you have no clue the full extent of the damage done?
Later, after a major downfall, I may have said the words, again, to those who I knew were willing and ready to listen, to hear me out. It would be during these sessions I could articulate more than just “I’m sorry.” I could let them in, and share what the underlying cause may have been other than me just having a drinking problem.
Then, there are the people who needed time and space. These “I’m sorry’s” are the hardest because of the fear of the unknown. How will they react? Will he/she understand? Will I lose him/her forever?
Although really tough to swallow at first, the time and space was actually a blessing in disguise. It allowed me time to change my behavior (for myself). It allowed me the chance to make peace with my (many) mistakes. It provided a new perspective on the relationships, and it showed me that this newer version of me is enough.
So how have my amends gone? I suppose better than expected, but there are a couple holes in my heart. These holes are either a relationship that has been forever altered or one that has just dissolved completely. For lack of better words, it sucks. These holes suck. But I know that I’ve done all I can do at this point in time.
However, at the end of it all, these amends have brought about a tremendous amount of personal growth and strength. Like I said (and I think we can all agree), having to say, “I’m sorry” under any circumstance can be really hard! In fact, I now see why people say “apologizing might be a sign of weakness but to actually say sorry is a strength.” It’s humbling!
And now that my amends have been made, I’m forever grateful to those who have accepted not only my sincerest “I’m sorry” but who have accepted me- my worst flaws and all!