I am an addict. These words flow pretty easily these days, but that wasn’t always the case. I battled addiction for years of my life and was plagued with self hatred and denial. Unable to get to the root of my suffering and admit that I had a problem, I continued to fight the disease, believing that drugs were the answer to my problems.
It was December of 2009 when I finally admitted defeat. It was frigid and snowy out and I was “living” in a cheap motel up in New Hampshire, hiding from reality, from my family, from the world. Another run had brought me deeper into isolation and misery. I vividly remember laying in the fetal position on that nasty motel bed, wearing the same dirty clothes I had been wearing for the past week, praying to God that I wouldn’t live to see another day. The scenery was no comfort. Dirty needles and crack pipes lined the tables and styrofoam cups filled with ash colored water and marlboros smoked down to the filter sat on every surface of the musty smoke filled room. It was right before Christmas, a time that should be filled with family, giving, and happiness and I had become so distant from anything of the sort. My family had told to me that I wasn’t welcome to celebrate the holidays with them, that they didn’t want the children in the family to see me in that condition, and they didn't want to see me in that condition either. Despite the giving spirit of the holidays approaching, I hadn’t known what it felt like to be giving in a long time, since all I had continued to do in my life was take. The selfish, self centered nature of addiction coursing through every fiber of my being. Drugs, money, time, everything I could get I would take, and everything I should have been reaching for I took for granted. Happiness was a faded memory. I had been watching it grow further and further away like following an image in a rear view mirror. Any feeling of happiness and light that had once been present in me had been getting smaller and more indistinguishable for a long time.
The end was a dark place for me, like it is for most of us. But in that moment, in that darkness, I was able to find the smallest sliver of hope. Though every molecule of my physical being wanted to keep using, there was a part of me that knew I couldn’t go on like that.
I never planned on being an addict but looking back I can see how addiction was present in my life before I even crossed paths with a drug. From childhood, I sought out behaviors and experiences that would take me out of myself. My drug free “drug of choice” was always changing. From candy, to shoplifting, to cutting, to boys, I was always looking for something to make me feel different. When I found drugs, they were just the next thing on the check list. From my first drink in middle school, to the last time I used in that dingy motel room, the drugs I thought were my solution robbed me of many years of my life and stole my joy. They took me on a roller coaster of self hate, frustration, disappointment, resentment, loss, demoralization and pain. I fought admitting I was an addict for a long time and as a result I struggled through many of the things I thought would never happen to me, the things they call “yets” in the program. I lost friends, and grew further and further apart from family, I lied to people I loved, stole, manipulated, got arrested, lost places to live and material possessions, compromised my values, treated people poorly and let them do the same to me. I bounced in and out of various detoxes and programs and tried every alternative to recovery I could think of until I exhausted all options.
I don’t know exactly what changed in December of 2009, but I thank God every day that I found a way out. I finally went the extra mile and put in the work I had been dodging for years. I went to detox and was in treatment for 6 months where I got honest and exposed all my pain and fear so I could walk through it and experience small glances of growth in myself. Through the help of that program, meetings, a solid support network, a higher power, step work and a lot of willingness I have managed to stay clean and build a life that I am proud of.
Recovery hasn’t always been easy. I have gone through many huge life changes that have tested me. I have learned to listen when people share about the difficult times they are going through in recovery and those messages are what have fueled me to fight my own battles. Seeing other people get through hard things and stay clean has been one of the hugest inspirations in my life and one of the things I love the most about being in a program of recovery. It has been other peoples words etched in my mind that has motivated me to keep going through moves, changes of jobs, ends of relationships, losses of friends, the loss of a parent and so many other challenges.
Though I am not grateful for the pain that I went through in active addiction, there is a big part of me that is grateful that I have this opportunity to be in a program that offers so much love, support and guidance. I am grateful that what we have all been through does not have to be wasted and that we can all use what we have learned to love each other back to life. I am grateful that I have the opportunity for continued self improvement and introspection and the chance to see the world in a different light.
I have certainly not done this recovery thing perfectly, there have been ups and downs and I have made mistakes but I am able to learn from the mistakes I make and grow and I am so happy to be where I am today despite the pain of my past.