I had to take some time away to find myself again. I know that sounds rather dramatic. It actually was. I had found myself spending the better part of my free time racing to the bottom of fifths of scotch. Not a good look. Especially when part of the race included weeknights and workday hangovers. My liver was starting to hate me and my work ethic was suffering. Not the kinds of things conducive to staving off depression. I knew things had to change.

Admittedly a part of me revelled in the decadence of it all. Even while understanding that hurting myself to mask the hurt was utterly counterproductive and selfdefeating. But at least this was a hurt that I could control. No one held a gun to my head to make me drink…even though that particular form of Russian roulette can be particularly messy. And I was pleased to be drinking a fairly good scotch. But I woke up to the insanity of those actions and thankfully, an angel appeared in the guise of a close friend to point me towards a saner path.

A few weeks ago, I went on a weekend retreat that changed me. My dramatic self wants to claim that Inner Journey (IJ) changed my life. But that would mean ceding power at a time when I can least afford to. IJ helped me figure out what I wanted/needed to change within myself that could manifest in a different life. More than anything, IJ corroborated the thoughts I had been having about what needed to be different in my life in order to be happier and healthier: cutting back on the substances I put in my body – caffeine, alcohol, refined sugar. Being kinder to self- nurturing myself, pampering instead of overindulging, loving myself enough to be more present while still protecting, rather than hiding my more vulnerable and most authentic self. Engaging actively in the work that I have long since been called to do. In short, getting real and being HERE. NO MORE MASKING!

I recently came to understand that I am quite adept at faking intimacy. I can reveal enough detail that seems deeply personal that people around me think I am baring my soul…but really, I am giving up essentially surface info….not the real shit, not the true contradictory, ugly truth of deep self. The intimacy mask is a lie.

Of all of the masks I’ve worn, the intimacy mask concerns me most. When courage mask cracks, I’m merely revealed to be afraid. The crumbling of wisdom masks just shows that I have more to learn. The lie of intimacy mask means that I am ultimately alone. And that is the starkest reality that I could face since what I desire more than anything is connection. Intimacy mask fooled even me…how can I have meaningful and profound connection with another when all of me is not present? And when I am present I am hidden?

So this space of healing focuses on my making sure more of my authentic self is present…every day…in every interaction that I value. This space means that I must stop distracting myself with bullshit and focus on the real.

I’ve been practicing yoga and meditation, journaling, drinking less and have had very little caffeine for the past month. I am more in my body these days than I can ever recall being. I am practicing being present especially in the moments that make me most uncomfortable. I keep thinking of the words of Miss Celie: “I’m poor, black, I may even be ugly but by God, I’m here. I’m here!”

I’m here. Working on being a healthy whole. And present. Feels great!