No Shame In Shame


Chin up, slugger. That paper bag is almost hipster.

It seems that the longer I go down this journey of uncovering, discovering (and hopefully discarding and/or applying), the less I seem to know. The more I understand, the less I truly understand. The more questions I seem to answer only creates even more questions, like bunny rabbits left unchecked with Barry White music left on in the background. Hubba hubba.

When I first got sober, I had a lot of answers. I plowed through books on spirituality and recovery like one would make their way through a popcorn and Twizzler combo at the movie theater. I absorbed everything I could in my still toxin-releasing pores. I listened to countless speakers discuss sobriety, self-awareness and even, gulp, feelings. I was a walking know-it-all who knew nothing. Sure I had some cool pat answers I cribbed from others, but many times it was all an intellectual exercise. I was memorizing for a test that was never going to be administered.

Now, I say this with tongue partially planted in cheek. I am grateful to learn from others, and I still do today. I sit at the feet of fellow travelers and spiritual gurus (for lack of a better word) and see what I can gleam from their wisdom and experience. Whether it’s someone who has 30 days sobriety living on the street or someone with 30 years sitting on a mountain top in Tibet, I will always get something from others. It’s all about the human condition. External circumstances are window dressing to the soul. We all carry water from the well, but in different pails.

I mention all this because it seems that in this whack-a-mole thing of self-awareness and picking at the lint of my soul, something else seems to crop up just when I think I have the table set just right–salad fork on the left, steak knife on the right, and oops, now the cat’s thrown up on the centrepiece. And for me these days, it’s something that has been simmering for some time, but now is staring me right in the face, ready for a mano a mano battle royale.

It’s shame.

Whoa. Let’s dial down the enthusiasm.

Someone mentioned shame to me a few years ago when I was discussing some issues I was having at the time. I dismissed shame being the culprit. My immediate (and defensive) reaction to that person was “Hey! I am not ashamed of myself! I have done a lot of work on myself and I am honest and open and don’t feel at all bad about anything in my past!” I was almost insulted by the idea that I was seeping with shame. But since that conversation, it’s been something that has tugged at me at the back of my mind. It has stuck with me, and I could never understand why. And what I know from experience is that when something hangs on to you like a burr, there is usually something it wants to reveal.

I need to claim that in no way am I ashamed in being an alcoholic in recovery. Not at all. I am clear on that. It is something that I am blessed to be where I am. I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for my sobriety. But what I carry is deeper than a sense of being ashamed of something. Being ashamed or feeling guilt and shame are different beasts. Brene Brown, who has a few wonderful TED talks (and books) about shame and vulnerability, describes guilt as “I did something bad”, where shame is “I am bad.” And that is where so many of us are stuck. I know I am.

My shame manifests itself in feelings of low self-worth and in comparing myself to others. I am grateful to have what I have, but sometimes I feel unworthy in having it. I sometimes feel like I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall. I wonder when Ashton Kusher is going to leap out of the bushes and tell me that I’ve been Punk’d. That feeling comes and goes. It’s not daily. But it does crop up.

For a dead fella, you're pretty ballsy in rubbing it in.
For a dead fella, you’re pretty ballsy in rubbing it in.

Low self-worth also comes up in many ways—playing small, perfectionism, seeking validation from the external and being very hard on myself. I know this because I get many people tell me to put the whip down. Even last week I had someone direct me to speak kinder to myself. My wife tells me this regularly. I would never talk to someone else the way I flog myself. It would be inhumane, and yet I do it daily.

Comparing myself to others has been my go-to cat-o-nine-tails in terms of giving myself a beat down. Yes, I know comparison is the thief of joy. I know all the inspirational quotes and plaques on this, but often the longest journey is from the head to the heart, and that is where I need to inject that like an old school adrenaline needle to the chest. And this is where it’s savagery to the self—comparing who I am to someone else in a way which cuts myself off at the knees. And this feeds into the shame which tells me “See? You don’t have value.” The interesting thing is that I only compare myself in some areas of my life, not all. So it’s not a day-long Marquis de Sade festival. But it’s still a good lashing.

I’ve been reading Melody Beattie’s “Codependent No More” and it is showing itself to be very helpful. It’s a challenge to counteract every negative thought with a second, more compassionate one (Jim at Fit Recovery talks about second thoughts on his great post here). It’s a challenge to try and convince myself that I am worthy of the abundance out there. It’s a challenge to feel “appropriate” for this life, a term which she uses and I love. But it’s a practice that I will have to tackle if I want to turn the corner on this.

I've got this. No really.
I’ve got this. No really.

My alcoholism has nothing to do with my shame, but certainly my shame has a lot to do with my alcoholism. The two are meant to be, and Brene Brown’s studies have linked shame to addiction and other self-destructive behaviours. It’s an easy correlation to make, I believe, especially if you have gone down the dark path of addiction.

This is what my first sponsor would say is a “core issue”. This is something beyond 12 steps and sobriety. This is about rooting out some deep underlying causes and conditions. It’s old thinking and habits buried deep. This is foundation material, and that is why I choose to take this path of wellness and recovery. It’s not about booze, but about living a life meant to be. It’s about being happy. It’s about being authentic. It’s about not wasting time in dancing with the things which want to bring us down and keep us covered in dirt. We are meant to flourish, not flounder.

I am learning to accept that where I am is where I am meant to be at. This is no different. I am being tossed this hot tamale for a reason. I know in my heart that when I start to make movement on this, things will shift. I just know it. How things will shift, I have no clue, but things will move. The universe will conspire to do so. I have experienced large changes occur and watched in amazement as things have come into flow, in line with a greater purpose in good.

There is no shame in dealing with shame.

Requisite hopeful picture at the end with inspirational caption.
Requisite hopeful picture at the end with inspirational caption.

67 Comments Add yours

  1. Absolutely ! I agree with it all lol . I was so scared to get sober because the first thought that comes to my mind is “ummmm live sober and face reality and MYSELf, absolutely not” . It’s a process in the beginning and it hurts like hell but we do recover. I’m no longer ashamed because I don’t live there any more . So grateful for another chance 🙌😎

    1. Paul S says:

      Great insight, Cristal! Facing reality and ourselves frightens a lot of people back to the bottle, plate, drug, etc. This is where some people resists. But in the end, after that initial wall busting, we are better for it. And you understand that, which is fantastic. I too am grateful for another chance! Thanks for this!

  2. Roderick says:

    We are born broken and we will die broken. One thing for certain is that booze will not fix us. Drinking booze is like smashing your head with a hammer the way Shemp used to do it in the Three Stooges films, and hoping the pain will go away. Guilt and shame follow us throughout life like a shadow. Meditating every day is a good way to get away from it, at least for a while.

    1. Paul S says:

      Bonus points for the Shemp reference, Roderick!
      We are broken in many ways – I guess my take on it is that I can do the best with that I have with the tools at my disposal (like meditation that you mention) and with the outlook that I *try* not to dwell on what I lack (which is a difficult one for me at times). Drinking will definitely make things worse, and certainly not fix us. It used to make me feel like I *was* fixed, but that was temporary…an illusion.
      Thanks for being here Roderick – I enjoy your “company”.

  3. Great post! My counselor said that quilt is normal but shame is the most useless feeling of all. It is so tricky, isn’t it?
    I do have more and more questions as well. I did not expect that in the beginning. I jumped into the process of finding answers and it backfired haha.

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks Sophie! Your counsellor is right, and I am trying to see that. It can wrap you right around its finger, can’t it? Embed itself right in there like a thorn. I am finding that just doing a few simple “resets” has been helping me erase some of that. So I will report in a while in how it’s going. And as for having more questions…I don’t mind that much these days. Keeps things interesting 🙂

      1. Good, keep us updated 🙂

  4. You’ve got me laughing and thinking as always brother man.

    I particularly relate to how you knew everything at the beginning of your sobriety, and know you are knowing less and less.

    The shame part though, I’m working on. I’m working on recognition. I have a funny relationship with it. I’ve been told to never concern myself with it. I was writing for the (ahem) recently and the character’s tragic flaw is a lack of shame. He cannot admit that what he is doing is wrong. I relate a lot to that.

    Thank you for the Ted Talks. I listened to snippets of each. Very enlightening. Something about those talks just make for automatic learning breakthroughs. Don’t know what it is.

    Thank you for the message. In a bottle. Uncorked. And aired. For the world.

    1. Paul S says:

      Mark! I apologize for the delay in getting back to you.
      And thanks for the kind words.
      I seriously thought I had all the answers at first – read everything and had pithy things to say at meetings. I sounded like Yoda. But these days I sound like Yogi Berra. I mix myself up a lot.
      I have noticed some people either really latch onto shame (and its different guises) or people kind of let it go. I unfortunately clung onto it without really even knowing what it was. I couldn’t see it until semi-recently. It’s like that old adage of the fish not knowing what water is because it’s grown up in it. It doesn’t see it as a “thing”.
      I can’t wait to read the…ahem.
      I love the TED talks too. Something about them. But have you seen the spoof on them?
      Thanks again man…you’re much too kind.
      Hope you’re well – we have to chat again.

      1. “This is that”

        Haha. Thanks for this nice laugh for the start of my workday.

  5. bgddyjim says:

    Great post, Paul. And thank you for the kind words.

    1. Paul S says:

      My pleasure man! I appreciate it and thanks for the great stuff you posted too!

  6. Elizabeth says:

    “My alcoholism has nothing to do with my shame, but certainly my shame has a lot to do with my alcoholism.” wow. So absolutely true. I think shame begins very early in life for most of us. It did for me. Excellent post Paul, thank you.

    1. Paul S says:

      Sorry to hear about shame starting early for you. I think you are right – and I think it starts as something as innocent as telling kids to put their clothes on when they’re running around naked and stuff like that – we are sending a message that the human body is shameful.
      But it goes in many ways and I guess for some of us it hits us sooner and perhaps harder. In the end it’s my responsibility to see it and make the changes to help. Thanks for this.

  7. ainsobriety says:

    My sobriety is solo fly based on yoga philosophy and unconditional self acceptance.
    I believe we are all perfect, whole and divine.
    And we all need more love and kindness, especially from ourselves.

    I stopped thinking of my internal voice as a bad thing, and embraced it as my inner child trying to get attention in any way possible. Sometimes that means being mean.

    I have a picture of myself at about 5 that I use. And I treat this little me gently. This was an exercise I did during the Brene brown oprah course on the gifts of imperfection. That is my favourite Brene Brown book.

    It’s changed everything. Unconditional self acceptance sheds light on shame. I know I am ok.

    Keep telling yourself you are worthy. Eventually it sinks in.


    1. Such a great reply, I am going to try that.

    2. Paul S says:

      Love this Anne. I have the book you mention – I just have to find it again! But I do understand what you say and now trying to make that leap into the practice of it and experiencing it at more than an intellectual level. I am practising on my running these last few days, and we’ll see how it turns out. I find my journaling has been helping, and I am slowly making small adjustments in how I talk to myself. It’s baby steps, but at least it’s in the right direction!

      Thank you for this.

  8. This is so weird, I’ve been listening to Brene’s book “I thought it was just me” this week.
    Honestly before I started listening to the audiobook I thought I had dealt with my shame. Towards the end of the week I was just flabbergasted to notice how all-pervasive shame is in my life. It’s just everywhere. It’s is the smallest things and how I constantly compare myself and feel that I don’t measure up. All of this bubbles over from the core belief that I am not good enough and that there is something intrinsically wrong or defective in me.
    I love Anne’s comment about the philosophy of yoga, we are all divine and perfect beings. Maybe if we treat this like a mantra the inner critic voice will become fade a bit…

    1. Paul S says:

      How cool is it that everyone so far knows Brene?! I hadn’t heard of her a few years ago.
      Anyway, everything you say I totally get. I was saying for a while about how this all comes down to how I feel like I don’t measure up. But I always had a feeling that there was more to it than that. And when the shame idea finally hit home, then it all made sense. And now I feel relieved that I know what it is that I am dealing with, as I can name it.
      Let’s all conquer this! Life is too short to be hammering ourselves.
      Thank you so much for this 🙂

  9. Wonderful reflections, thank you. This really struck a chord. I am working on this as a co dependent in therapy. I am working on recognizing the internal factors and external factors that contribute to this shame. When I started my blog my husband was actively using and my self esteem, confidence, and worth was zero. I was ashamed of everything. I know that breaking from stigma and silence, and expression through writing, connecting with others, has really helped me. Also recognizing the “propaganda” of mass and mainstream media that often tells us what we don’t have, what we need to be fulfilled (often materialistic), what to equate with happiness. Breaking from this media has been integral. Most importantly looking in and finding my authentic self, living it, accepting my life and at the same time being less self involved and thinking of others and service has reduced shame and feelings of worthlessness. Don’t get me wrong I struggle with this often, especially the comparisons, I so do that!! But it’s getting better. Thank you again for a wonderful post.
    Best from south of the border!
    Marahu ❤

    1. Paul S says:

      Ahhh Marahu – I get this all, and I love it. And I can sense this from you, in your writing and how you respond to others. I can feel it. It’s authentic, and I know that feeling of healing that comes from calamity. And you’re a living example of it. And that makes my heart happy. It makes me happy for you and also as an example of what we can be and do once we make that decision (and yes it’s a decision) to move past it and create a life that is worth living. Thank you for this.


  10. jeffstroud says:

    The last two paragraphs which sum up the wholeness of what you wrote and thought are your truth. Shame is just another road either from the past or a core issue. I use to say, ” I have nothing to be ashamed of I was drunk” yet that was just ego making excuses.
    My “shame” if you wish to call it that comes out as “your not good enough” or “you didn’t try hard enough”, ouch! That gremlin still rears it’s head when I am trying to accomplish something, move in a new direction or any direction at all.
    What comes to mind is the Marianne Williamson quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our Darkness, that most frightens us.”

    Shame is another form for our addiction trying to talk to us, to get under our skin, to say nasty things in our heads. Our ego saying, “you can go there, where will i be if you do?”

    As the saying goes and you are already aware of this, “you are right where you are suppose to be.”

    A question popped in my mind while reading those last paragraphs of yours, “what shift have you already experienced by giving this thing a name, by exposing it to the light? By sharing your words and thoughts here?

    Big Hugs

    1. Paul S says:

      Jeff…man, when you “talk”, I listen. And that last question of yours really had me thinking…and you have a strong point. I have felt a HUGE relief since I wrote this, Jeff. I can say that this is probably the first time ever (or at least in a VERY long time) where I felt a big shift after sharing a post. I feel like something has shifted already, and I thank you for pointing that out, because I wouldn’t have noticed that if it weren’t for you. So I appreciate you and your insight.

      And you know, my counsellors in treatment used to use that “you are right where you are supposed to be” line on me a lot! So I guess it’s a lesson I still need to learn.

      Thanks for this.
      Big hugs back at ya.

      1. jeffstroud says:

        I call it like I see it or intuit from you and the situation. I am glad to have offered a little light on the situation.
        Early on many dislike the phrase ” you are right where your suppose to be”, we don’t want to be there yet we are so we have to work from that place, there is no other place you can work from.
        Your most welcome and I am glad to be of service, for it allows me to experience the process as well!!


        PS could you please get me to blog too? I keep thinking about it but I am still putting it off…

  11. Carrie Ann says:

    Great post, Paul. I am a Brene fan as well and her talk was pivotal in my coming to quit drinking as well. Of course, it took me four years to really get to it, but the SHAME GAME is a losing one, for sure. I think I am going to limit my social media more so that I have less cause to play it and see if that lightens the load a bit.

    1. Paul S says:

      I am so glad that you found your path, and that it includes Brene! Many ways up that mountain!
      And you know, social media…dang. It’s a killer. It’s been linked to depression and I get it. I am not on much. Very limited FB (I have it just for the podcast) and limited IG (mostly for running), but Twitter – I’m a fiend there. And I love it (have met some amazing recovery people from that) but it can also kill you in the comparison game. I am much, much better than I used to be in terms of reacting, but once in a while it gets me. But then again, people in real life get to me too…so perspective and balance are key!
      Thanks Carrie Ann!!

  12. I Quit Wineing says:

    I have heard a lot of people mention Brene but haven’t read any of her books myself. Perhaps I should. Like you, in the early stage of recovery, I am trying to soak up everyone’s advise and am reading books like a woman possessed. Some days I think all this reading is helping me and others it is just damn right confusing. Maybe sticking to one topic at a time would help. On another note, that shame scene from Game of Thrones was pure gold.

    1. Her book The Gifts of Imperfection is really good!!

      1. I Quit Wineing says:

        Thank you. I will look for it on audible 😘

      2. Paul S says:

        Agreed – a fantastic book!

    2. Paul S says:

      Follow where your interests take you, in terms of what speaks to you in your reading tastes. It was shotgun style for me early on – read anything and everything on recovery, spirituality and other stuff. Probably too much, but that is how I am. All or nothing…lol. I didn’t read Brene until a year or two ago. But again, go with where the spirit takes you. I find that what talks to me one minute doesn’t the other and vice-versa. It’s fluid…and that’s the cool part.

      As for Game of Thrones – never seen the show, but I have seen that GIF used countless times. Love it!

  13. HealthyJenn says:

    Dwelling on shame is quite self destructive for me and its something im working on….Now that I don’t drink it can send me into a head-tripping, overeating frenzy…. I tend to compare myself and my life to a set of standards that are sometimes arbitrary and not always appropriate…for me it comes from a deep desire to feel like I belong and to feel normal…those desires have been there ever since I can remember when I was a kid…the irony is that shame actually separates us from others and makes us feel alone….the opposite of belonging.

    1. Paul S says:

      I think the desire to belong is universal and deep for us. That is why kids join criminal gangs – the feeling to be desired and a part of something supersedes the chance of getting killed or imprisoned. For others, it shows up in other ways. For me, well drinking gave me the illusion that I was part of something bigger. But we know that doesn’t last long!

      But you are right about the irony of shame – it keeps us away, and frankly, I think it keeps others away from me as well. No one wants a negative nelly in their midst! So for many reasons, I want to make that switch and be more centered and more positive in this world. We’ve gotten out of the destructive cycle of our alcohol, so why keep hammering away?

      Thanks Jenn!

  14. k2running says:

    once again you got me laughing and thinking! In the words of my wonderful mother, ‘No one can make you feel guility’…ughhh she was so right. I too, experience feelings of guilt and shame because I dont “think” I am worthy enough of the blessings and the promises of the program that have been bestowed upon me. But gosh darn it, I deserve it, and so do you Paul, and every other sober individual who brought themselves out of the deep dark hell of addiction. But that nagging self worth….not being good enough still gets us….no matter how hard we work at it! But look at us, we loved our selves enough to get healthy….to get sober, and we “battle” our addictions every day….I think that is some pretty swell self love and respect!

    1. Paul S says:

      Hi Katie! Your mother was right indeed. And that is a lesson I still have to fully take in. And YOU are right in that yes we are worthy of it. My mind tells me that, Oprah tells me that, my books tell me that, sponsors have told me that…now I need to tell me that…and full take it in! But yes, self-love does come out in getting sober. Now does my overeating and hating my body do the opposite? probably. But I am learning that it’s not an all-or-nothing things. Shades. Hues. Degrees. So let’s move the needle back to self-love.

      Thanks for this!

  15. Hi Paul!
    I compare myself to others too.
    Which of course does nothing to help me grow.
    My insecurities combined with FOMO make me act in less than desirable ways, which leads me to shame.
    I am working on though!!

    1. Paul S says:

      Hi Wendy!
      Great way to invite FOMO into this – that is a big thing as well! I get affected by that as well…a by-product of comparing one’s self to others. It’s the idea, for me, that whatever it is I choose to do, I have chosen wrong. It’s the idea that whatever it is other people are doing, it is WAY better than what I am doing. How maddening is that? And like you infer, I get ugly in my responses sometimes. I get petty, or jealous or other ways that make it about me. Not the best place to be!
      And like you, working on it as well.
      Let’s do this ! 🙂


      1. I got your comment on my blog!
        Thank you!
        It doesn’t disappear!

        1. Paul S says:

          Oh good! i was going to check later tonight.

  16. Sometimes I think we must be kindred spirits – and I felt no different in reading about your learning and searching in the shame space.
    I am on my second round of Co-Dependent No More – amazing, life-changing book. Brene? Yup – I’d have her on speed dial if I could. Your writing is so insightful and clever all at once. Thank you for such an important message on a Monday morning, Paul.

    1. Paul S says:

      Awww…thank you, M. Yes, Codependent No More is one that I will return to several times, I think. The chapter that “gets” me most is the having a love affair with yourself one. That chapter pretty much sums me up entirely, and rereading it almost nightly constantly surprises me, as if I am reading it again for the first time. That means that I need that lesson. Badly…ha ha.
      Thanks for the kind words as always, and I am so happy that you’re here. And everywhere 🙂


  17. Yeah. You gotta put that cat-o-nine away. We think you’re amazing. Really!!
    “I was a walking know-it-all who knew nothing….”

    That’s STILL me. That I recognize it is good, but I gotta make the change (transformation?) and develop a better modus op.

    Love your writing, as always, Paul.


    – Danno

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks Dan! I appreciate the kind words as always. (Sorry for the delay in getting back to you!)

      I guess we’re that work-in-progress thing people keep talking about 🙂


  18. This is a such a great post, Paul. “I would never talk to someone else the way I flog myself. It would be inhumane, and yet I do it daily.” And I witness you doing this daily. You are so generous with your words to others…and so terribly (and unjustly to an outsider) to yourself. You seem to be on a path to trying to understand and correct this so I will only say that you are one cool dude and you should flaunt it!! 🙂

    1. Paul S says:

      Jane! Here we are on the social media laughing about why we follow one another then I come here and see this. You are awesome. Thank you. And yes, you probably bear witness to how ugly I can get with myself! I sometimes forget how unattractive that can be to innocent bystanders. But thank you for sticking through it. At least I can crack a joke or two…ha ha. Thanks for being the amazing you and and being an example of where I want to be.

  19. Paul, you are so good. I finally checked my email and found out that you’re back (here). I can’t wait to catch up with your other posts. You always touch on something that I need to hear. ❤

    1. Paul S says:

      Thank you Karen – so happy to see you! I was headed to bed, saw you commented, read your last post, HAD to comment, then had to come back here and just say that I’ve missed you and glad you’re around. Your posts always make my day.
      Blessings 🙂

  20. onthemend12 says:

    This was such a great read. I relate to so much of what you said – ” I was a walking know-it-all who knew nothing” rings so true for me. I also can’t help but feel, often, that I am waiting for the other shoe to drop – that somehow I don’t deserve the peace and serenity I’ve gotten in sobriety. I keep waiting for the drama to unfold, the shit to hit the fan, the bottom to fall out.. the way it always has. But my life is different now, and that is truly difficult to accept every day. I am grateful, don’t get me wrong, but I have clocked many more hours of drinking time than I have of sober time, so I think it makes sense that my alcoholic mind tends to go back to that place. I think as long as I focus on each day as it comes, and commit to working hard on my life, it seems manageable. It seems possible. And it seems like, in the bright light of a particularly beautiful morning, I might just deserve all this happiness.

    And you do, too.

    Thanks so much for sharing your hope and strength – I know it’s not easy but what a relief that we’re not alone in all these difficult moments and feelings.

    Wishing you all the best,

    1. Paul S says:

      Hi V – thank you so much for this!

      I understand the whole idea of the other shoe about to drop feeling. I still get it. It’s not as prominent as it used to be, but it’s there, lurking in the background sometimes. And like you, I spent more time drinking than I have sober time, and hell, for me to break even I need to live to at least 65! But hopefully I’ll get there.

      I like what you say about focusing on the day and keeping our heads up high seeking the light. Good words of wisdom.

      As for sharing the hard stuff – it’s easy for me! I sometimes have to watch I don’t *over*share…ha ha. But I always enjoy commiseration 🙂


  21. saoirsek says:

    Just read this post again, it’s. SO relevant to where I’m at. The post and the comments are all so helpful.Yeah big fan of Brene and Kristen Neff is great on self compassion. Thanks again for the post 😊

    1. Paul S says:

      Thanks for this! My apologies on the late response – playing catch up here (I was away for a few weeks). I have to check out Kristen Neff. So that’s my homework!!

      1. saoirsek says:

        She’s excellent 🙂

  22. Anne Marie Anetts says:

    Hello Paul – well hey you still sound a little like Yoda 🙂 I’m back on to Day 1 again and I need to nail it this time, I’ve spent a year in and out of meetings, collecting all of the information and reading shed loads. I recommend “The Addicted Brain” and “Chasing The Scream”. Today I signed up with Soberistas today which is where I found your blog – thank you. I did enjoy AA at the beginning but I didn’t take it seriously. One lady said to me “you’re so cute when you stand up and say you’re on day 5 again”, ha, ha but I kept going back. The shame thing, hmm, this article resonated with me about things that stay with you like the shame comment did for you. A couple of things that stayed with me from meetings were “you better be yourself, coz everyone else is taken” – “one drink, it’s kind of like just one big haemorrhoid”. I would find that pretty shameful actually! Lol The one thing that bugged me also in those meetings was how often those in their long term recovery (5 years plus) would point out to newcomers that they really would not be aware of their insanity in early recovery – that used to be annoy me tremendously and stayed with me as the shame thing did with you. A year of Thiamine Vit B1, some reasonable sober stints and excellent nutrition have shown me how, to my shame and indignation, right they were! The first three months I was staggered at my vocabulary’s recovery more then anything else. Thankfully that’s lasted. Anyway, as you can see, I was oft asked at meetings to stay on topic. So thank you for your article on shame. I’m still learning to deal with that and it will take an age. But this is the last time I’m putting myself through this withdrawal thing, absolutely! Insanity blah di blah Anne Marie

    1. Paul S says:

      Hi Anne Marie!! Thank you so much for sharing all this (my apologies in the crafting this response late – I was away for a bit). I am very happy you are back at it (we all had our Day 1’s…so don’t sweat it), and it seems that you have packed away some wisdom during your sober time, so it is never wasted!

      I am not sure I would have enjoyed what that woman said about being “cute” when saying my sober time. That’s arrogant. But regardless, you’re here and want to get better, and that is a big step in self-love. In terms of very early recovery, I was a zombie for the first three months, slightly less-zombie like by 6 months and by 9 months I could almost talk like a normal person…ha ha. Time takes time as they say (and that is an expression that used to drive me batty too!)

      Shame is something I still work on. I have had a bit of a breakthrough recently (I will be mentioning it on my next podcast, at the beginning) and it certainly ties into my body image and things like that. It is amazing how it can pervade in all aspects of our lives. But instead of thinking it’s going to take an age, I just look ahead at where I am and focus on what I can do today. Some days it’s just speaking kindly to myself (a challenge) and other days I am okay with where I am at.

      Anyways, thank again for this and for being here. Hope you are doing well!

      1. Georgina19 says:

        Hi Paul, that lady wasn’t being condescending, I would know if she were, that’s why it stuck with me. Yes, I’m a bit of a Pollyanna but I shall never lose that part of myself even if it means that from time to time I get a little bruised; aka “judge not less you be judged”, she wasn’t doing that. That would be selling my soul; and my soul’s not for sale, whether that be to Faust or Ethanol.
        Anne Marie

        1. Georgina19 says:

          ps: thanks for indulging my loony tunes P. 🙂

          1. Georgina19 says:

            And – Paul, it’s a great help to read through all of the older posts of yours (I read the one about Pity today – you had a much sexier title for it than that of course, but hey my dyslexia; alcoholics always have an excuse! ha, ha) and get a perspective on your journey as I’ve only just connected with Message in a Bottle; very inspiring. I was also delighted to see comments from Mrs D way back then also 🙂 It’s a fabulous post by the way (as always) particularly for newbies. It reminded me of a new friend I made a few years ago, J., who, due to a tragic car accident, is an amputee from just above the knee (hey, that rhymes! lol). I’d never met/known anyone with a physical amputation before and as always, I was curious. I’m always interested in how people deal with the challenges God throws at them in this particular life coz everyone has a journey and we all share challenges, whether the same or different. Look for the similarities as they say.

            For example, one of my cousins, also J. (coincidence), was born blind, a result of my aunt contracting German measles whilst pregnant. Unlike others, I never, ever tired of listening to how this had impacted his life because of course he has self pity as you can imagine about those f***ing German measles but sadly not everyone is interested or wants to hear it, even family. But actually J., is totally bilingual French/English; has memorised the whole of both the Paris Metro and London underground, footstep by footstep (and we think sober day counting is tricky!); is now partially sighted (20%) after enduring over 40 operations since early childhood; and works helping other non-sighted and partially sighted people to find employment. When he initially visits potential employers, they usually say “Yes J., that’s fine but you’re sighted”. Now, that’s funnily enough how I think about you when I read your posts Paul, coz you have 6 years plus up, ha, ha.. I’m rambling on a little here as usual but coming back to amputee friend J. (yes, I do/did have an eventual point to make!). The first time I invited him to a dinner party, I kept making “special efforts”, like saying it was fine, he could smoke in the house although the other smoker had to go outside – because I didn’t want/like him having to get up on his crutches (forgetting we all have crutches) to do that. But J would have none of it and got up to go outside. When I tried to insist (I can be pushy sometimes, in the nicest possible way of course) and asked him (privately) why? He replied “because pity is a drug” ………….. interestingly both J.’s have separately said and shared that with me. Your post reminded me of them. It’s great that your older posts are still here today to totally inspire, just as are Mrs D’s 🙂 Thank you again.

          2. Paul S says:

            Pity is a drug for sure and I still indulge in it unfortunately. It gives a rush and gives the ego something to clutch on to and in the end I feel like crap – like an emotional hangover. Interesting story about J – an example of how to adapt, eh?

          3. Georgina19 says:
          4. Georgina19 says:

            Adapt, absolutely ………. at the end of that dinner party amputee J whizzed down the 8 front steps of my house on his crutches like Speedy Gonzales. And I felt so ashamed.

  23. stacilys says:

    Heyyyyy Paul, I don’t know what happened to my comment here. I had posted a comment on this post some time back. I guess you didn’t get it eh. Hmmmm…

    1. Paul S says:

      I have no idea! I apologize. I was just looking back at some posts and realize that I didn’t respond to one of your last responses. I felt so bad! I usually make it a point to get to every response, but somehow missed it. My bad. But as far as this one here…no clue. Hmmmm…I will check to see if it popped up in the “unapproved” section, but your comments usually shine through 😉

      How are you doing?

      1. stacilys says:

        Heyyyy Paul, so sorry for the delay in responding. I’ve been crazy busy. My life is sort of in transition and I’m still trying to see how I’m going to arrange my time and all. Blogging has been difficult, but I’m dying to get some ideas physically manifested. Hahaha. We all have a need to create, right? 🙂
        At any rate, WP sometimes does some crazy funky things. It bugs me sometimes. Anyhow, so glad to hear from you friend.

        1. Paul S says:

          You and me both. This week has been mad for me in terms of returning to work, catching up there and also taking on new responsibilities and also stuff at home has been busy as well. I am not in transition, so I can’t complain in that regard, so it probably pales in comparison to how busy you are! Anyway, hope you are well!

  24. The only thing I know, is that I don’t know. That has been the biggest lesson for me in my sobriety. Loved your post.

    1. Paul S says:

      Oh thank you Blythe! I really appreciate this! And yes…the more I think I know, the less I really do!

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