(This post first appeared on Substack: Writing Magick with Maggie Sunseri. Click to subscribe.)
When I was in active addiction, I said a lot of off-the-wall shit. Constantly. I used to say things that were unhinged purely to shock people—especially when I thought certain social conventions were silly and archaic. When I was drinking, I felt like I could say or do anything.
So I did.
And while some of what I said and did was insanely cringey, a lot of it actually brought me closer to people. It made others feel comfortable sharing their own wild thoughts with me. It surprised people that I could be so open about topics that usually felt hard to talk about. I jumped straight into the deep, the fascinating, the fringe, and the risqué with ease. I’ve never been one for small talk, even in sobriety.
When I got sober, I suddenly wasn’t so shameless. I slowly forgot how to talk about anything at all that didn’t feel 100% safe and shielded from controversy. I said I wanted to talk about so many different things on this Substack—spirituality, sex, art, mental health—but every time I sit down to write, this new inner critic reminds me of all the times opening up and talking has turned people off.
I also remember all the times people I admire have invited an onslaught of hate and criticism from strangers for speaking or writing about… well, anything. I want to be seen and heard, and yet being seen and heard also fucking terrifies me. Because the more we’re perceived online these days, the more we open ourselves up to anonymous people telling us to kill ourselves and to never speak again.
And sobriety has made me sensitive. I was always sensitive, which is probably among the constellation of traits that predisposed me to addiction in the first place, but I’m feeling extra raw and vulnerable lately. Which is perhaps not the best way to be feeling when you have your writing online for anyone to tear apart or ridicule.
The horrors of addiction aside, I really, truly miss being able to tweet things without deleting them 5 minutes later. (I’ve been doing this A LOT. Go follow me on Twitter @maggiesunseri, and you’re bound to see a tweet pop up every other day that immediately gets deleted for whatever self-conscious reason.) Somewhere along the way, I lost my authentic voice. I can write in Áine’s voice, or any other of my characters’ voices, just fine. Because they aren’t me. And perhaps that’s the problem—maybe I just don’t know who exactly I am anymore. And while that is a very dramatic thing to say (another addict trait 😉) I also know that it’s okay. I’m 22. I don’t have to know who I am just yet, and I reckon most people don’t always know who they are at all times, no matter how old. I didn’t know who I was when I was drinking, either. In fact, I was the furthest away from my authentic self that I could’ve possibly been. Drinking just made me okay with not being myself. It was a security blanket of false bravado and belonging and comfort that was as thin and unstable as a house of cards. One gust of reality was enough to send me crumbling.
Sobriety has stripped me bare. It’s been the best and worst thing in the world, and it’s made me return to my introvert roots. If you’d asked anyone I met and knew during college if they would’ve described me as “shy,” “quiet,” or “reserved,” they probably would’ve said you had the wrong girl. They probably would’ve laughed. That’s how I feel lately, though, at least to strangers. I never learned how to open up and put myself out there without chemical crutches, so now I’m sort of learning how to be an adult human for the very first time.
My new world is bright, raw, loud, beautiful, and terrifying. There’s no way to blur it, subdue it, or turn it into something chemically fantastical. I used to fashion my life like I would a story. I used people as characters on my adventures, and I stepped into the role of someone who could travel anywhere, talk to anyone, try anything at all. But when the story ended and I returned to myself, I had to start from scratch. There are no more roles and plots to escape into in my life. I’m just me. And I’m learning to love that person, even if she’s not as comfortable with herself as I need her to be just yet.
I have time. I used to only have tonight—the present, fleeting, blurry moment of impulse—but now I have tomorrow.
I love having tomorrow.
Book 2 of my new witchy series, The Coveted, releases in two weeks. Book 3, The Illuminated, releases in 6 weeks. I actually just completed another round of edits on Book 3 on Wednesday, and I feel like it is the most beautiful, soulful, and entrancing piece of writing I’ve ever written. (Don’t worry, it’s also incredibly hot. Because my mystical witch books wouldn’t be complete without some kinky fun and sadistic, sexy villains, right?) I am insanely proud and excited beyond measure to release these next books out into the world.
I even started writing Book 4, The Hunted, this week! I’m holding on to that cover so I can do a big reveal in the coming months, but it is GORGEOUS. I can’t wait to show it off. Life is hard and weird and scary, but rest assured there’s six books releasing this year that can whisk you off to a world a lot more magickal than this one…
(This post first appeared on Substack: Writing Magick with Maggie Sunseri. Click to subscribe, like, or leave a comment. This newsletter is currently 100% free, but if you want a way to support me you could always share my posts with your friends or Buy Me a Coffee. Or you could buy my kinky witch books!)