I have always considered myself to be an extrovert. Outgoing, friendly, talkative… loud. As I am getting older and looking back, I’m starting to wonder how much of that was true extroversion and how much of it was just something I did because I didn’t know how to be anything else.

Things have gotten (relatively) quieter over the last few years. First because I had withdrawn completely into my struggle with alcohol, and second because I finally just slowed down and took a good look at myself. How much of me was really “me?” Had I ever really been myself? Made my own big life decisions? How much of my life was a product of what I thought might please someone else?

The heavy truth is that I was people pleasing my way into many of the life choices I made for a very long time. And in the process, I failed (miserably) to make myself happy. And then I couldn’t figure out why I was so unsatisfied with my existence. Didn’t I deserve better?

Yes. I did deserve better, just like anyone else. But I couldn’t do anything to fix my life until I understood that I was the one responsible for my own pain. Once I realized that I was suffering by my own hand, I was finally able to summon the power that I had always possessed to make positive changes. I now know that I can choose and make a happiness of my own construction, and that I am worth that choice.

Saturday I took off on my own. My family wanted to do other things, but I wanted to go up to Plum Island. So I went. Alone. It was an afternoon of old haunts, beaches and birdwatching. Of 25¢ hot dogs, and a Christmas tree bonfire. I spoke to almost no one. It was wonderful.

As it turns out, I can actually keep myself pretty good company today. What a relief from the feeling of always needing someone to keep me distracted from the thoughts racing through my head and the sadness in my heart.

My life today isn’t perfect. I have a lot of work to do. Changes to implement. Amends to make. But my life today is so much better. So much happier, joyous and free. And that is something I choose to be grateful for. Another great life decision that I realize I can make now, every day.