“Addiction begins with the hope that something ‘out there’ can instantly fill up the emptiness inside.” ~ Jean Kilbourne
It’s one week shy of the one year anniversary that I got a phone call I didn’t want to get. That day I stopped dead in my tracks because I was shocked and heartbroken. I remember when I heard the news from my friend on the other end of the phone. I instantly went numb. The same thing happened roughly 5 months later when I got a social media message and again last night when I ran into a friend. What was this news you ask?
Another friend died. What’s worse is that they died a senseless death from a drug overdose.
If you’re not an addict, you might be wondering how I could possibly be friends with an addict? Simple. Because I am an addict too, but I am a recovering addict. I knew these 3 beautiful souls when they were at their best and their worst. Each of them did stop using for different lengths of time, but for whatever reason, they chose to start using again. I watched them come into recovery not only physically broke but also spiritually and emotionally broke.
At first, when they came in, you could see the pain in their eyes and hear the desperation in their voices. After they got some time clean, I saw the transformation. They started looking and feeling better. They began to have hopes and dreams again. They became productive members of society again and regained the love and trust that they’d lost from their families. But something happened. It was any number of reasons but it mainly boiled down to one thing.
They couldn’t or didn’t want to deal with their reality which was different for each of them.
I can hear the comments already from non addicts who are not familiar or don’t understand this disease – and yes, it is a disease. It is a mental health disease. I won’t go into the specifics of that today. I have written numerous pieces over the last year and a half and encourage you to read them. Pieces like “Who Is An Addict?”, “Reality of Addiction”, “A Demon Named ‘Addiction’”, “Addiction-Disease or Moral Failing?”, “Break the Stigma”, “The Demon” and many others. I write this today for another reason.
My hope and purpose today is to reach out and touch the life of just one addict with my words.
To any addict who may be reading my words, wherever you may be in the world, especially the addict in pain right now. Whether you have less than 24 hours clean or you have 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 year, 1 decade or longer clean. Whether you are an old timer, newcomer, relapser, or the one contemplating a relapse this message is for each of you.
“There are all kinds of addicts, I guess. We all have pain. And we all look for ways to make the pain go away.” ~ Sherman Alexie
I know your pain. I have lived it and I am still living it but I am still clean. I don’t care what your pain is, I understand it. Right about now, you’re probably thinking, “Yea right lady. How can you/You can’t possibly understand what I’m going thru? You’re not going thru what I’m going thru.” Ah, but I do.
I’ve been in recovery for a few 24 hours now. I’ve done research on the internet and talked to numerous professionals and other addicts in that time. I’ve also done something for a while now that’s helped me not only with my personal research but it’s also helped me stay clean. When someone who’s relapsed comes back into recovery I ask them, “Why did you relapse?” The answers I’ve gotten back have varied but there’s one common denominator. Reality. You don’t want, can’t, or know how to deal with whatever your reality is.
Pick a reason, any reason; this person died, your kids are making you crazy, you can’t deal with your spouse or kids clean, that person looked at you wrong, this person said something to you, that person pissed in your Cheerios, the sun is out, it’s raining, it’s snowing, it’s to hot, it’s to cold…or maybe it’s something I neglected to mention.
“But my situation is unique.” Really? Allow me to tell you what I’ve been thru and still stayed clean.
Since I’ve been in recovery, I have been thru a divorce and another relationship after that. I’ve been thru deaths of family, friends, loved ones and addicts I considered family. When my dad fell ill and was in the hospital, I had to tell my mother and sister that I agreed with the doctor when he advised pulling the plug on him. I had to force my mom into a nursing home and lost my blood family because of it. I’ve had financial problems, no food in the house. I’ve been gossiped about and stabbed in the back. I’ve argued with more people than I can count, and currently I am dealing with a potentially progressive illness almost as serious as addiction.
And that’s just a snapshot of what I’ve dealt with over the last six years. Have I thought about using? Of course. Do I have an excuse to go back to using? Sure I do, but not a darn one of those excuses is a good enough reason.
Since i got clean I’ve also been able to pay off my car and buy my own home. They’re both mine. I don’t have to worry about being evicted because of divorce or family problems. I have a part time job and I finally have peace of mind. Yes I still worry about having money to live, but my drama and chaos is behind me. Best of all I still have family – a group of friends who will and have dropped everything to help me when I needed it most. Right now I can say life is good. Tomorrow may be different but for right now I am in control of my life. Plus, I’ve discovered new passions and a purpose for life.
Best of all I don’t worry about my next high or how I’ll pay for it. I don’t have to worry about being dope sick.
“Our greatest glory is not in never failing, but in rising up every time we fail.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Look, I’m not going to lie to you. Being in recovery isn’t going to be easy. It’s not for the faint of heart? Some days will be damn hard. There are numerous ways to get and stay clean. Some of those ways are difficult and someone are easy. I’ve learned from other addicts that the easy way is a surefire way to not succeed. For an addict to stay clean we need tough love, not enabling, coddling or condemnation.
Most of all, we need the fortitude to commit to a new and better way of living.
I want you to know something that you may not know about yourself. You are important, deserving, loveable, intelligent, worthy, beautiful, brave, strong, powerful, resilient, fearless, talented, fierce, funny, loved, needed, alive for a reason and so much more than this list. You CAN do this.
Please, seek out recovery before your loved ones and friends bury you.
“Wait for me.” The words come out choked and pained. “I need you to wait for me.” ~ Krista Ritchie
…There’s no more time to wait. The time is now to live the life you were meant to live.
***Please be sure to read more of my posts.