Fragmented Me

fragfrag•ment n.  a part broken off or detached, isolated, unfinished, or incomplete part

origin: 1530s, from L. fragmentum “ a fragment, remnant.” From the root of frangere “to break” (fraction) ¹

Fractions can be a difficult concept for kids to learn. How can there be less than a whole? If there is less than a whole then it’s its own ‘1’? How can 4/4 equal one, there’s a four in that number? Only one equals one! Geez, teachers what do they do, sit around and make this stuff up to ruin the weekend with homework?

As both a student and a teacher (of sorts) I see both sides of this spectrum: The teacher’s declaration of its learned value, the student’s query, “It doesn’t matter in real life if 4/4 = 1.” The teacher knows it matters, the student doesn’t. 

Before I got sober I thought I was whole. I was a complete person with a little drinking problem. A little problem I could get rid of if I wanted to. I just didn’t want to. That was my story. It stuck like chewed gum in the rug.

Until I tried to stop and I couldn’t. Then I had to drink because I absolutely couldn’t stand the idea that I couldn’t stop. Drinking relieved the pain of my inability to control my drinking.

I realized I wasn’t normal. I didn’t drink normal. Whatever normal drinking was, I wasn’t it. I was broken. Completely incomplete. To compound the I-don’t-know-how-to-fix-me situation I was angry that I didn’t know how-to-fix-me. You’re supposed to know how to fix yourself. People do it all the time. What’s wrong with you? Geez, why weren’t you paying attention when they taught this life lesson?

So, I’m trying to figure this sober thing out, but fragmented me doesn’t know what to do or who to trust. I’ve never been whole and I hate admitting that to myself. I refuse to admit it to you. That might come back and bite me in the future. So I stay quiet in my incompleteness, I manage to not drink, but I am as miserable as I have never known miserable. Sober is worse than drinking. But it can’t be. All I wanted when I was drinking was sober.

How am I going to figure this out?

I traipsed around until I found you. A new friend, not just a regular friend, but a friend who had walked this path and knew the way. I showed you my fragmented pieces and you reassured me I would be whole again. I watched you love yourself, love the world around you. I began to love myself, I began to love the world around me. One day, no particular day, I realized I actually trusted myself. I trusted me. What a concept. I wasn’t fragmented anymore. Giving up the alcohol didn’t make me whole. Giving up the alcohol and working on trusting me made me whole. I’m not perfect, but I am no longer detached, isolated, or incomplete. I am whole.

In my wholeness I grow stronger.

¹Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper Cite This Source

14 Responses to “Fragmented Me

  • You hit the nail on this one once again, Lisa. That feeling of brokenness and useless and just split up is something that I can certainly relate to. I felt my life fracturing more and more the longer I was active in my alcoholism, like a a tear in fabric, and the weight of my guilt and shame and remorse piling on the weight and tearing it up further. I was also fragmented in other ways – I revealed myself only in portions, afraid that if anyone knew the real me, they would flee. And I get that sense when you turned to that person who finally saw you, warts and all, and still loved you and showed you how it was to love and trust yourself.

    That sense of wholeness you talk about – what a new way of being it was for me. I am still healing, still caulking in the bits and pieces, still strengthening the foundation, still making the whole even more fortified. And that takes love,compassion, trust and patience. It needs me to be with others who are doing the same, learning from them, and also passing it on to others who are broken themselves. It’s in helping them that my ability to heal and stay on the path grows.

    But trusting myself…that was a turning moment for me. When I was able to forgive myself (itself a huge spiritual moment for me) then trust and compassion and love followed suit.

    Thank you for this Lisa…just lovely.


    • Paul,
      I must confess, I get most of my ideas for writing from others who are new to sobriety, new to coaching. When I am working with them, they awaken in me things I had long ago felt, but somehow seemed to forget as the years passed. I experience some of the same feeling now and again (detachment, incomplete, etc.) but not to the magnitude of when I first got sober. I’m confident this is why I love my friendships with other bloggers because they keep alive something my ego would be happy to forget … DRINKING SUCKS!

      Thanks for being part of my support group. You give much to me.
      with love, Lisa

  • Lisa,
    I agree so much with Paul and everything you said here. Whether or not I have ever felt “whole” is probably not the case, as we are always learning, but I certainly know that I used to trust myself, and feel much more complete before I ‘crossed the line’ into addiction. I teetered on the edge for a long time, but I feel when I crossed over, I lost my confidence, my trust in myself, and my love for myself. Day by day I am trying to recover it. It’s a challenge, a journey, and the most important thing I’ve done my entire life. – Ellen

    • Ellen,
      Thank you for commenting.You know that “whole” feeling you speak of, it’s not a constant for me. But it’s not illusive either. It used to be full-time unreachable. I think., for me, I like to teach that the process is ongoing. This growth thing never ends. We chase perfection in sobriety like we chased perfection in drinking. It’s an illusion. All we have is today. (sounds so cliche) but it’s the TRUTH. Some days I’m more whole than others, but I’m never drunk… and that, my friend, is a big deal for this alcoholic.
      with lots of love, Lisa

      • You are so right, Lisa. I remember when I was a teen my mom took me to a counselor because I had so much anger in me…(daughter of an alcoholic, middle child, death of a sibling) and she told me I was a ‘perfectionist’! to which I laughed! I wasn’t the perfectionist, my sister was, the neat and tidy one! I still laugh about this…because I am always looking for perfection…but so much more balanced and happier when I realize the pursuit is enough, and perfection is unattainable! It is indeed an illusion!

  • Such a fabulous message. It took me a long time to realize I hadn’t been whole, which I suppose was a mercy. Definitely relate to the line about drinking relieving the pain of realizing I couldn’t drink normally. I felt like such a failure. It does feel good to know I can do sobriety. That it comes from hard work and connections with dear souls like yourself. Really loving this post, thank you.

    • Ditto on all of it. Especially resonate with the ‘hard work’ part. I have found so much comfort in my online friendships. I know that reading others’ recovery blogs has played a major roll in the quality of my sobriety this past year. It’s hard work at times (life) but I have all of you to walk through it—sober. Thank you for your friendship. with love

  • And so many of us found you!! Thank goodness. I found myself waiting for your weekly post this week. Looking forward to your insight and message. It gives me strength and hope and helps me look a little deeper each time I read one of your messages. Thank you for being here, for staying here.

    • That’s about the nicest thing you could have said. I do wonder at times if I’m singing to my own choir, (I am of course) but it’s nice to know I matter in peoples’ lives. It’s a nice feeling for anybody to possess, “I matter” … thank you for making my day. with love, Lisa

  • I guess I feel middle of the road in terms of achieving a feeling of wholeness. When you write the part of how it felt in active addiction, I could relate entirely. When you talked about finding someone like yourself, boy oh boy could I relate entirely, and how their strength kept me upright when, by myself I would have crumbled (earliest days of sobriety).

    Comparatively speaking, I feel a lot closer to whole then I ever have, but I definitely have more work to do before I can say I feel whole. Then again, I have less than 2 years, so certainly I count myself among the newly sober.

    But the best lesson you have taught me, Lisa, is that life is a work in progress, and the goal is to keep learning new things, keep challenging yourself, and expanding your horizons. So I will keep reaching for the whole feeling, and I’m guessing that in the reaching, I will feel it!

    • For me, I have often had to remember I am whole. I’ve always been whole. I always will be whole. I am an extension of Creator. I am granted this gift. I think that I’ve spent most of my adult life not remembering my true nature. You are perfect just the way you are … right now. Let yourself feel it—today! Even if only for a few seconds. Just close those beautiful eyes and feeeeeeel it. Most of my recovery has been about remembering things, beautiful things, that I somehow forgot. Thank you for making my online sober journey so extraordinary. You are a big, big part of my life. xox Lisa

  • I love this, Lisa. It speaks to my feeling of scattered pieces of myself lying all over the place. I have to decide which pieces serve me and which do not. For now, it seems to be a large undertaking and will have to wait until I have a bit more sobriety. I am trying to teach myself that this is a lifelong process. xx Joyce

    • Joyce,
      I too get stuck in wanting the end result. I too find peace in remaining content with today while still striving for more. It is not always an easily discovered place. For me, I gave myself permission to be scattered and love myself anyway. It freed up all the drama I had attached to being different or more than I currently was. I could breathe. For what it’s worth, I’m still looking for me. Seems as soon as I find a Lisa I adore I get a glimpse of a new place to grow toward. I jump in again and again. Enjoy your process. You are a success. Believe it.

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