We come into this world exposed. Our whole selves open for display. Our minds to fragile, with no experience to be ashamed or be shy with our exposure. As we age, we begin to build little walls around us, not letting everyone see the "real" person. We begin to gain friends and our parents send us to school, and slowly we begin to expose ourselves in a different way. We share our secrets and visions with our "best" friends. We develop a sense of trust. At this young age, our trust is blind and more times then not, we are betrayed. Our secrets are revealed and our walls go up a little higher. We don't trust as easily.

As teenagers, we begin a new journey in exposing ourselves. We "fall in love" and try to meet our own insecurities head on. This puppy-love makes us begin to open up to others with our feelings, but like our earlier years, these feelings are betrayed and laughed at. But through it all we still march on, being more select in who we expose ourselves too. Our vulnerability becomes less, as does our trust.

Over time we believe we can "master" our feelings, trust, and devotion. We become more involved and serious in our friendships and relationships. For some people, it works! They live happily ever after. They have found a true friend and a life-long mate. They can freely express their feelings and thoughts with the knowledge that they won't be betrayed. While others continue to build walls and become more isolated and fearful.

Like myself, every alcoholic-addict trusts blindly. I gave my trust to people who were untrustworthy. Drinking buddies, would steal from me and some would sleep with my lovers. To be honest though, I too, did the same. Our friendships were built on needs. I needed someone to drink with, someone to prove to me that I wasn't as bad as they were. Then when acceptance finally does come - that there is a problem, these friends disappear. You begin to see that all you had in common was a beer. If they do hang around they try everything in their power, trying to get you to drink. A little bit more trust leaves and the walls get a little higher.

With sobriety, marriage also takes a hit. The person whom you totally exposed your whole self too, has become a stranger. With escape gone, alcohol no longer an answer, secrets pop-up everywhere. Personally, I began to see the reality of my nightmare. Not only had my addictions destroyed my life, but also the people around me. It seemed selfish, but for me to survive, I had to break free from my past and its dysfunctional ways. Part of that dysfunction was my family. Now trust was gone and the walls surrounded me.

Through divorce I realized my life was built on exposing myself to people who didn't deserve it. I went into hiding, no longer vulnerable, no longer trusting. For two years, friendships and relationships were non-existent. In those two years I began a relationship I could trust entirely - I exposed myself to my Higher Power. All my insecurities, my fears and my feelings were laid out on the table. With this trust, I began to let go of all my guilt and shame. And finally, with this release, I was able to build a friendship with myself. For the first time in my life, I was comfortable in my own skin.

Now the hard part came. Learning to trust and being vulnerable again. It was scary and something totally new. I realized early on, that not everyone deserve my trust, nor my friendship. I also knew that for me to succeed, I had to be honest all the time. I didn't have much, but I still had my word. And this is what I would build on.

This new method of exposing myself to others has worked in some instances and has also failed in others. It has given me a new wife and a relationship built on trust and honesty. It has given me friends, whom I believe I can share my feelings with. But these true friends did not show up over night. Many times, I trusted people who let me down. They betrayed my trust or broke their promises. I was lied to many times. Some would be friends when they were on top of the world, while I wouldn't hear from others until they were down on their luck.

But I now had the knowledge and the strength to know that I had made a mistake. In the past, this would lower my trust and build up my walls. Today, I can look back at these friendships and know that what happened wasn't about me, but rather about them. Something, inside them, whether their own past hurts or fantasies, wouldn't allow them to accept my trust or honesty.

This awareness and comfort "in my own skin" has allowed me to share my past through the gift of writing. Not to brag or look for pity, but to continue to shed away the past and to keep revealing, or exposing myself to my Higher Power.

Author's Bio: 

Dave Harm is a recovering alcoholic who has been sober for over 20 years. He is an NLP Master Practitioner, Hypnotist, and Life Coach. He is the author of three books and the creator of two musical CD's.

He shares his experience and journey on his website www.daveharm.com