I Couldn't resist this share from Melissa because I am such a Star Wars fan and also love her passion to share her journey of sobriety! It is definitely not easy and a huge life change but when we commit to it, amazing things happen and our lives become so much more manageable. If you want to read more of her blogs click the link HERE and as always I am thankful to her for allowing me to share her blogs!
“Yes, a Jedi’s strength flows from the Force. But beware of the dark side. Anger, fear, aggression; the dark side of the Force are they. Easily they flow, quick to join you in a fight. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will, as it did Obi-Wan’s apprentice.” -Yoda
When I was a little girl I had already struggled with low self-esteem and self-worth, and I also separately had these grandiose ideas of myself, the world around me, and fantasies of another life greater than that of an ordinary person. I would say this only started around age 9 or so when I attended a show at Rainbow Stage. It was the first time I was exposed to a live counterpart to a reality that was shiny, glittery, robust, and was repackaged in an idealized way. It was then that I wanted to be in musical theater, and be a famous actress, not just an actress, but a famous one. That fame and prestige would take me away from the world where I was made fun of and rejected and take me into a world where I could finish every night with a rousing applause.
There was also a conflict that I have never really spoken about before, which is that I grew up being told that I was intelligent, unusually absorbent of great amounts of information, talented, but was always misusing my potential or having people telling me I was applying my potential the wrong way. I should be a lawyer or doctor or something of that nature because of my mind, but because my mind functioned in a different way and was more intellectual in understanding theories, philosophies, and the math and science of art, it always felt like I wasn’t living up to a grandiose idea or image of what other people wanted me to be. So I was always caught in this disproportionate sense of confusion and sense of worthlessness because whatever I seemed to do I was not living up to an image or ideal, so this dysfunctional grandiose image of a life that could rescue me from this daily suffering.
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In classical Greek mythology, the story of Narcissus is a bit dated, because I think there is a vast difference between Vanity and Narcissism. When you are vain, you are in love with your image, no matter how you look or are. Vanity to me has always been like the Queen in Snow White, and looking in the mirror every day and telling yourself you are the most beautiful. Narcissism is a bit more complex because I think it’s not loving the actual image of yourself, but a self-inflated fantasy image of yourself. Essentially, you paint a different image of yourself in your head, and you become attached to that false reality. You identify yourself as that person, even though they are not the real you. So when I was young, I did not love myself as I was, because she was unpopular, not listened to, not understood or felt special. The person that was growing inside my imagination, my fantasy world, the famous actress with the agent, adoring fans, fame, fortune, I kept loving her more, even though she wasn’t a reality, but I would make her one.
In the real world I had limitations, and I never liked being told my limitations, because they reminded me I was human, flawed, imperfect, and I couldn’t handle that, I had to somehow be invincible, always praised, and that was my blind-spot. If I wasn’t getting adulated or praised, then I was failing, and I already suffered so much from feeling like a misfit or outcast, that failing was simply not an option, because I was already a loser, and I had to show and prove to everyone that I wasn’t a loser. I would definitely say the noise in my head never subsided because I was either always continually told I was brilliant but was wasting my potential that everyone seemed to have an idea about, or I was told people didn’t understand me so I always felt alienated from other people. I always identified with others but I never felt people identifying with me, so I felt disconnected from the real world in the real world, so this grandiose fantasy world in my head where my life had no limits and everyone loved me seemed more and more alluring.
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I always wondered why I was so susceptible to darkness, to addiction, and why I fell as hard and as far as I did. It’s because feeling worthless, and that inner dragon of grandiosity, those fierce unabashed emotions are sisters, they are intimately connected. When I was nineteen this feeling of grandiosity really became a great beast inside me that would become out of control very soon. It was a year of losing my grandparents, two people who loved me unconditionally, being rejected by someone and a group of people who I believed to be friends, losing the acting career I thought I would always have, having my first feature film not turn out the quality I wanted, and people pointing out my flaws and limitations left and right, I fled, and I fled hard. I started drinking, sleeping with guys, working two-three jobs to move away, and moved away in a firestorm. Ever since I was nineteen it became a manic obsession to become that painting in my head of the famed actress, but continually searched for other careers, other paths that would essentially give me the same result. Drugs and alcohol are just a part of that, but still a huge part of that.
When I have struggled in sobriety, and now I have figured out why, it’s because I haven’t been able to handle moments of real reality, or coming awake to something about myself that’s not perfect or flattering, something that’s human. I have had fantastic periods in sobriety, where I have been open to constructive criticism, accepted my powerlessness over everything, but especially drugs and alcohol, but on those days I became tired, overwhelmed, falling back into old habits, grandiosity, and dysfunctional thinking came back with a vengeance. Then I saw myself as a worthless failure again, someone who saw their humanity is revealed to them as a reason for self-harm and self-destruction, because I always saw the human being as the one not worth loving, but the idealized one as being the one worth loving, that’s who I always wanted people to love. But, guess what? People do love the flawed, broken human being, the one who hasn’t loved herself, and in doing so, their love, and unconditional love not just for myself but for themselves have taught me to also love myself the real me, the whole me.
So even though I had a go of dreams of fame, fortune, and material success, I hadn’t let go of the falsified idealized image of myself, I hadn’t let go of my narcissism. I hadn’t seen that though, and because I hadn’t seen that with my heart, and soul, I could not relate to my narcissistic self at a healthy distance, and start working at tearing down that image. It’s not going to happen overnight. It’s going to take some time in loving the face in the mirror to fully deconstruct the portrait of false perfection in my mind.
Thanks again to Melissa to letting us share this and share her journey!
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