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Bottle Rockets

My husband I didn't fight in our marriage. We didn't yell. We didn't scream. We discussed. I cried. A lot. He told me over and over not to cry. He refused to talk with me while I cried. So, I learned to cry less - to hold it in as much as I could.

Looking back, I can see just how much I bottled things up. Bottling up is a great metaphor for how I began to keep so much inside. It was "bottled up" within me.

And what happens when you shake up a bottle filled with liquid before you open it? It explodes.

So it was with me.

Over the years, I bottled my feelings more and more.

I couldn't express what I felt, which was not valued and unloved. I didn't even want to believe what I felt. So I pushed my feelings down, down, down...until I was like a bottle rocket ready to explode. Then every so often, I would.

I didn't explode of my own conscious volition. No. I couldn't. I couldn't consciously bring myself to recognize my depth of unhappiness.

Instead, every so often...I would drink. A lot. I would drink so much that the next day I couldn't remember what I had done. And I did some bad things.

Thankfully I didn't hurt myself or anyone else physically. The emotional repercussions, however, are something I can never undo. And in the end, they are part of what saved me.

The first time I remember was when our oldest child was 3 or 4. We were at a musical festival camping. I don't know exactly what set things in motion, but I do remember my husband continually leaving me with our kids to go off and listen to music on his own. In most cases, I've been a good mom. This was not one of those times. I started drinking in the afternoon and kept drinking all night. I put the kids to bed in the tent, and I stayed with them while he went off who knows where - listening to more music, meeting the musicians, having fun. I sat outside the tent while the kids slept. And I kept drinking.

I don't remember him coming back. The next day he told me I had said horrible things to him. I had yelled and used bad language. I had lashed out. I do remember the next day, however.

I remember him telling me all the awful things I had done, and I remember me crying and crying, telling him that I loved him, and begging him to forgive me.

And the particular booze I was drinking the night before - I stopped drinking that for years. I blamed my behavior and my blacking out on the booze. I didn't consider looking internally to examine the causes of my behavior.

Nothing similar happened for about 5 years, which in my head proved my theory right. The alcohol was to blame for my behaviors that night.

Then it happened about once a year for a few years, and in the final year before we decided to get divorced, it happened more than once. I don't remember my behavior on any of those occasions. I was told by my husband that, among other things, I made a scene in front of coworkers, yelled and screamed at my husband's friends, kissed another man, and threw a glass at my husband's best friend.

The last time it happened was at another music festival - one we were attending with, among others, my husband's female coworker who had made a pass at him in the past (see Hot Tub Footsie, The Snowy Sleepover, and The Entertainment System). No kids were with us this time, thank goodness. The next day, he told me that as the night wore on, I bumped into strangers, sang along with the band being super loud and off key, fell down on the ground, and was approached by the police due to my disruptive behavior. My husband told me he almost left me there to be taken to jail. That was my lowest of lows.

I was devastated. I cried and cried. I told him I loved him. Over and over. I begged him to forgive me.

While I still wasn't ready to look at the true cause of my behavior, I began to recognize that something was wrong. I was really unhappy with myself and in my marriage.

I am not proud of my actions. There's part of me that wishes I could go back and change things. However, I now recognize that in my drunken state, I was able to express all those things I'd been bottling up for years. It was not a healthy way to express my feelings (not healthy at all), but when the conscious self is unable to express things, the subconscious self takes over to let things out.

Since my divorce, I have not once lashed out at anyone while drinking. In fact, I have not once had so much to drink that I've blacked out. The alcohol (while extremely unhealthy) wasn't the root of the problem. My marriage was.

In saying that, I've also recognized the impact that alcohol can have in my life, and I've made drastic changes to my drinking habits. I want to be sure that in the future I will remain conscious and aware in all aspects of my life.

If you're reading this and can identify with any of these experiences, I hope you'll see this as a call to action to start digging deeper to discover what's causing you to bottle things up...before you explode and do real harm to yourself or someone else.

I also hope that you will forgive yourself. It's taken me a long time to forgive myself for the things that I've done. However, I know that without forgiving myself, I will always be tethered to the past and never free to be the beautiful soul I truly am inside and out.

I deserve to forgive myself, and so do you.


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