Everyone has skeletons in their closet, but not me. Mine don’t live hidden in my dark closet. Mine are out in the open dancing to my favorite songs. I don’t hide my past, even the parts I am not proud of. I have brought it into the open and sat down face to skeletal face with those haunts that used to try their best to kill me. I know them all by name. We are the best of friends now. I used to let me past rule me. I was ashamed of how I had reacted to some traumatic situations and how it had changed my life. I had this plan for what I wanted my life to look like and year after year I got farther and father from that person. I tried to hide the pain and shame with this happy party girl. I was “fun.” When I got sober I had to drag all those mistakes out of my skeleton closet. It was rough and painful. I was embarrassed of who I had become. I spent years facing what I had done. It took years and honestly is still happening today because that closet is a walk in and it is very dark in there.
That is one of the hard parts about drinking and drugging, the memory loss. I did not remember some of the hideous mistakes I had made and they would pop up out of nowhere like some vicious haunted house. I also kept repeating behaviors I thought would die with my drinking. Nope, still an addict. Always an addict. There are things I am just now realizing are part of my addictive brain and it has almost been six years of sobriety. I do my best to be honest with myself. I try to be a hospitable host to these skeletons I didn’t even really like to begin with. I had heart to hearts. I learned about them and now, I am actually grateful for their presence. It help me put things into perspective. I have this gratefulness about their existence because without them, I don’t think I would appreciate life quite the way I do now.
One of the things I have been more aware of lately is how people seem to approach dating and their skeletons. In your 30s, you have them, we all do. If you have lived life at all, you have made mistakes. Those mistakes don’t leave, you can’t change them, so the best thing to do is learn from them. If you aren’t honest with the person you are dating about your past, then how can they ever really know you? I am not saying to rehash the past constantly, but I am saying to be honest with the person you love and honest with yourself.
I had to learn how to grow in a relationship and not hold my partner responsible for past mistakes of others and my past mistakes. It took me a good solid year to get to the point where I felt we had a healthy balance. The truth is, I didn’t give myself enough time or him enough time to heal and reconcile his past. I didn’t appreciate the process. Thankfully, for both of us, we were able to get that time later on. IT would’ve probably saved us a lot of heartache if we had taken that time in the beginning, but hey, it didn’t happen. I realized that I did need time to be alone with those skeletons and get a grip on them. We both did. I am known for rushing into things. My loving heart and optimism can be a detriment. I tend to see the good first and my overactive imagination is attractive to others. It makes things seem so beautiful, but really it is an illusion. It isn’t real. Real love isn’t always beautiful. Real love sees you and all your skeletons and says hey, can I bring mine over? Let’s hang. Real love isn’t a checklist of qualities, but a story of highs and lows with a whole lot of in between that isn’t picture perfect. And yet somehow, when that in between is gone you feel a painful ache. Love sometimes hurts. I think of the most pure love of all that died a painful death for us, Jesus. I think of my love for my child that will cause deep pain as I have to watch her hurt. Love is not always rainbows and butterflies.
However, real love only hurts to grow, not for joy or for lack of caring. I feel so much confidence in the love that I have now because there is no hiding who I am or who I was. I know him and he knows me. We know each other’s skeletons and we continue to love even deeper. We will probably never have what others consider a picture perfect life. We want different things. We want that raw and deep love. We will fight for it. He knows me, the real me, and he loves me in spite of and because of that person. I feel incredibly thankful to have someone who doesn’t want me to hide who I am. He doesn’t make me feel bad about my sobriety. He celebrates me for the things I have overcome and continue to overcome. I spent years with someone who made me feel like my sobriety was a burden, that I was no longer fun, that I had ruined our lives by attempting to save my own. I felt a guilt over that. I was ashamed of not only my drinking, but then also my sobriety. I hated that I was not “normal.” It took me a long time to stop asking my boyfriend if he was sure he didn’t want a drink on dates. It took a long time for me to believe that he was having fun without alcohol all the time. See, I didn’t even know that that skeleton was in there, but it was a big one.
We have to continue our purging of our emotional, mental and spiritual closets if we want to continue to grow. We have to pull those guys out of there. Some stay and we have to continue to deal with them. Others come out and face the music, then feel ready to walk out the door. That is the ultimate goal, for the skeletons to leave, but that can take time and a ton of work. So little by little and moment by moment. Learn to love who you are, who you really are and wait for that person who really loves the real you, skeletons and all.