About Last Night: Confessions of a TEDx Speaker
The show started. I was standing backstage awaiting my turn while doing all of the coping techniques that I had planned to have in case I needed them. I needed them. I was EFT tapping while reciting to myself “I am safe. I am calm.” I took giant deep breaths while holding my arms over head and then dropping into a forward fold. I eagerly prayed to God to move through me, make me a channel of peace, step up and take over, while pleading for the words to come. I ignored the other people around me and chose to forgo any kind of image in order to attempt to release some of the terror and anxiety that I was feeling. I looked insane.
Welcome Samantha Perkins.
As I walked on stage it occurred to me that not only was I going to be speaking but I was going to be speaking against something that most people love. A topic that might trigger people, that most would disagree with, or not understand. I thought back to the note that my son had given me that said Mom, Good Luck Talking About The Downsides of Alcohol. In that second, as I stepped onto the red dot, I realized that I might need more than luck.
I took deep breaths. I began my speech. I walked around the red dot like a dog nesting before a good night’s sleep. If I stopped moving the words wouldn’t flow. I was sure of it. So, I kept moving and the words, they came one after the other mostly like I had practiced. My voice wasn’t too shaky. I didn’t blank. I said what I came to say. As I walked off the stage I felt the most relief I think I’d ever felt.
I took my seat in the audience and got to listen to the other speakers. I no longer cared about my talk and instead had the luxury of being a listener looking for inspiration. Afterward, there was a reception. I felt overwhelmingly tired, as the adrenaline wore off I considered laying down right there to sleep. I left early.
As I walking out, one of the audience members said,
“Here she comes. Hide your drinks.”
There were drinks there. Of course, there were. I thought this was funny and I laughed. I said “No judgement. You do you” with a big giant smile. You see, I knew that he was not my one. My one was out there though. They always are. The person who drinks casually, who has never once mentioned it being a problem out loud but who thinks about it constantly. The person who is looking everywhere for that one story, that one person, that one incident that will tell them that their relationship with drinking is coming to an end but has no idea what this means for them. I know this because they message me. Strangers, for years, have reached out telling me that that one sentence I said, that one chapter, or that one post help put them on a path. It’s why I get up every morning and write about this stuff. It’s why I put myself through the agony of being seen and heard. As an anxious person, being vulnerable can be terrifying.
But I was once, the one. The one who found Holly and then so many more women who would plant the seed, then teach me the way. I was looking around every corner, under every rug, between every crevice hoping to find a solution a giant struggle that mostly took place in my head. A silent battle that only I knew about. So, using my voice and my words to help others is my duty. It’s not like I always love doing this stuff. The TEDx talk almost took me down with nerves, fear, imposter syndrome, and the heavy weight of putting my story out there in under 7 minutes. I’ll pay it forward though, over and over again. I’ll put in the endless hours of work and stress with little to no repayment of any kind in hopes that I can be there for someone in need. As I’ve said before, if not for strangers on the internet, my life would be compteltely different. To think that I might still be drinking, fighting, battling with so much unnecessary struggle had it not been for a few stories that someone was vulnerable and willing to share. How did I get so lucky?!?!
Thank you for coming to my TEDx talk.
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Originally published at https://www.spaliveaf.com on March 14, 2022.