“Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come.” ~Anne Lamott.
I recently went to talk to a group of addicts with another recovering addict. What we discussed after I shared my story is the reason I write this today. Perhaps this will help an addict in my community or wherever they may be. Maybe someone who’s not an addict can identify with my words on some level.
As we were finishing up, a young lady made a comment about why other addicts are not staying clean or even getting clean to begin with in our community. There are numerous reasons. They think they are invincible, and they don’t think they’ll die like their friends. Plus they glorify their using. They think back to and remember their early days of using and all the crazy things they’ve done then laugh it off. But there was one more reason that hurt hurt my heart.
Addicts have lost hope. Hope that they can stop using and have a better life.
I’m here to tell you that if you’re an addict who thinks this, you’re wrong. As long as you’re still breathing there is always hope. Hope is something that you want to happen, or the feeling that good things will come. I think we – addict or not – can all agree that we all want good things to happen in our life right? To have those good things happen, quite often we need to do some form of work while also leaving the outcome to our Higher Power. Whether I was in active addiction or not, I’ve had plenty of times when I’ve lost hope. My world seemed so dark I thought I’d never see the light. Here is one of those times.
A couple of years ago, a series of events turned my world inside out. I made some wrong choices in my life which led my world feel dark. My ex husband wanted a divorce and I discovered he’d been having an affair. I was caring for my mom who was ill and progressively getting worse. Her care was quickly becoming more than I could do, plus I was fighting with my sister. I couldn’t see where things would possibly get any better. I had thoughts of going back out to use or getting in my car and driving as fast and as far away as I could. I wasn’t suicidal but I prayed before bed that I wouldn’t wake up the next morning. Every morning I woke I was mad at my Higher Power. I thought He’d abandoned me too.
While I was this dark place, I saw a tiny light. It was the hand of a friend I’d met on social media who reached out to me. He gave me hope and loved me until I could love myself. The words he had posted taught me to think about myself and the world around me. Sure I had other friends who could help me but their words didn’t impact me like his did.
One day I looked for his words of hope but I found none. After few days went by and he still hadn’t posted, I went to his personal page and I found he’d passed away. I was devastated and my heart broke. I instantly wanted to be able to continue posting his words because I knew how he’d helped others besides me but I hadn’t saved any of them. I reached out to his family hoping they’d share a copy of his work. After some back and forth communication, I was graciously given a copy of his writings so that I could repost them – on a couple of conditions. One was that I had to write my own thoughts and inspiration with his words until I felt comfortable doing my own freestyle writing.
Two and a half years later, I continue to share his words with mine today and have a collection of my own writing. My words have been read all over the world thanks to social media and this blog I started. For the longest time I hide my writing from my immediate circle of friends because I didn’t think it was any good. As my confidence was growing, I began to write my story of addiction and recovery. Thanks to all the positive feedback from so many of my readers, I read a snapshot of it at a recent event we had in our community. It was created to let addicts, our loved ones and others in the community who want to help know that there is hope. Here are a couple of excerpts from what I said that day.
“I share my story in no way to boast or brag but to show that living a fulfilling life without drugs is possible, but you have to want it…Perhaps my story will help you see that if I can get thru life’s ups and downs without drugs, so can you… I was told some time ago that, ‘An addict, any addict, can stop using, lose the desire to use and learn a new way of life.’
“My message is one of hope.
“…I understand what you’re going thru and then I hear, “Yea but you don’t understand.” What you don’t know is that I do understand and if I don’t, I have friends who can. We all used drugs for the same reasons – we were happy, we wanted to celebrate, we were angry, sad or afraid and wanted to escape. He pissed in my Cheerios, she looked at me funny, they were talking about me.” Pick a reason, any reason and I’ll bet that was our reason too.
“Addiction boils down to one simple question. Do I want to live or do I want to die? I’ve made my choice. What’s yours?
You see, I have a hard time expressing myself verbally because of an illness that I’m in the process of getting diagnosed. As this problem began to get worse, I began to lose hope again. If it weren’t for my writing, I don’t know where I’d be today. This writing endeavor has helped me get thru many dark hours when I didn’t think I could do it. And to think, this never would’ve been possible had I stayed in my dark place a couple years ago. I probably wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t accepted the hope my friend offered or taken the risk to honor my friend and his vision of hope.
Today my hope is that someday my work will be put together in a book or two and be published. If that never happens I will be happy knowing that my words touch someone to give them that hope they need, whether they’re an addict or not.
Thought for the day: Miracles do happen every day. They may require a little hard work but they do happen. Don’t give up on hope and for heaven’s sake, don’t leave before that miracle happens.
***Please be sure to read more of my posts