My name is Annika and I’m an alcoholic.

Oh wait… sorry. I get ready to share and this introduction just naturally spills out. When I went to my first AA meeting at 23 it felt both terrifying and brave to say those words out loud. For this suffering human, the rooms of AA were a masterclass in vulnerability, authenticity, and how sharing our experience could add to collective healing. Today, it feels equally brave to label myself an alcoholic. I understand the critiques of the term: how labels keep us boxed in, how it places the problem in the person, how it is stigmatizing and can pathologize people. But I hold the term with such deep love and reverence that I will likely go on calling myself an alcoholic forever and ever.

The shameful, hideous, disgusting, broken, awful part of myself I encountered again and again in addiction - all summed up in the word alcoholic - a part I hated, feared, and rejected - all summed up in the word alcoholic - was the part that expressed my misery so powerfully that I had no choice but to change my life. Acknowledging, accepting, and then coming to love the alcoholic - love her so dearly that I am grateful everyday for her existence - has saved my life.

I lead with my recovery because it is literally the foundation of all that is good in my life. If you read this Substack, you will also learn that I’m a mother, I have anxiety, I met my soulmate at 15 (and before you start thinking that’s a dream scenario, it’s not, and I spent years of my marriage hating him), I’m a therapist, I find God in nature, I tend to be serious but think I’m here to learn how to play and relax.

I have loved writing for as long as I can remember but never believed it was an option to pursue. The responsible, caretaking, people pleasing, money focused, afraid parts of me pretty much shut down my creativity over the years. This space offers a place to engage in creativity, sharing, and healing, elements that are part of my core energy. I know I’m not that great of a writer and I can struggle with shame and embarrassment because I also know there are so many great writers sharing work. And I’m going to write here anyway because, 1. I want to spend more time in creativity, 2. Writing helps me heal and maybe it can help someone else on their healing journey too, and 3. we are all basically just infinitely small pieces of star dust and our bodied lives are but a second long in the grand scheme of things so who fucking cares anyway?

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I write about the tension I experience between my primitive, anxious, survival being and my whole, conscious, evolved self. I write about how the electricity of anxiety has rocked my body and life and what is working/not working to ground that energy.


Annika O'Melia

Recovery through honoring the primal and growing toward consciousness.