I do a lot of thinking. A lot of addicts I know do, too. I analyze everything as it’s happening and then I unpack it later and examine it some more. I always say I have an insatiable appetite for knowledge, which is funny because at times I can be stubborn, difficult and unteachable. It’s my ego, mostly. I’ve been trying to remind myself that resistance is the enemy of progress and acceptance is the answer to all of the things that keep me up at night.
It’s been 202 days since I gave up the unmanageability of my addiction. It’s been 202 days back to back. It took me years to find success and I spent the first six months of my recovery equally baffled and excited at each day I strung together. My feelings and thoughts were changing, yes, but my action was the real VIP. I began to find ways to create space between distress and reaction. I faced my feelings head-on. Every day I put my knowledge into practice and everything began to fall together. I often wondered why it had happened. I wanted to identify the magic button I had found to relieve me of the constant driving urge to numb out and disappear. Still, I kept thinking that it wasn’t necessary to dig too deep. As they say, it is best not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
I have a general idea of the things that seemed to alter my perception. I have a loose grasp on the events that surrounded me in the months up until and around my decision to quit. And I do know that certain substances lead me to a place where I absolutely no longer have the freedom of choice. I know that if I ever open that door again, I run the risk of never coming back.
I thought about this tweet a little more after I sent it, and I reflected upon my use of the word “decision”. That’s a tough word when it comes to addiction but this is important for me in my recovery. In meetings, I put it like this:
A lot of people are going to experiment with and even enjoy drugs and alcohol. Of those people, only a few of them are going to wind up in active addiction. Addiction means continuing to do something in a compulsive manner despite negative consequences, by definition. It does not mean that you did not like saying no. It does not mean that you partied on the weekends and maybe Wednesdays on occasion. Addiction causes negative consequences socially, emotionally, mentally and physically, yet still we cannot stop. Of the people who do enter the shadow world that accompanies using in this way, only a few of them will be able to access the help that they need. And of the few who are lucky enough to find that help, only a few are going to manage to stay.
No one, and I do mean no one, would choose this life if they didn’t have to.
And if you don’t understand that as fact, I invite you to spend some time in quiet reflection on how lucky you are to not have experienced it.
Today, 202 days in, I have a clear mind and the power of choice. I have difficult moments and sometimes difficult days, but I use the new skills I have as challenges arise. I don’t get too far ahead of myself and I stay rooted in the reality of where my using takes me. I can’t promise anyone tomorrow, but just for today, I can safely say that I choose this life. And I am so much better for it.
When it comes to keeping myself grounded, staying connected is of the utmost importance. I need to listen to those who have more experience than I do, those who live lives that on our worst days we could never have dreamed of. It’s also imperative that I spend time sharing my story with those who are raw and broken. I always remember that if the people who got better simply walked away, there wouldn’t have been anyone there to help me when I needed it. Staying connected to a group of people with experiences and trauma that rival my own has been nothing short of transformative and I especially find support in women’s spaces. These people have given me an opportunity to become honest and vulnerable in a way I never have before, which in turn has allowed me access to parts of me I didn’t know existed.
I’m learning how to trust. And I’m learning how to trust in the Creator. I’m on the other side of a massive perspective shift and I’m certain there is plenty yet to come.
A year ago I had no idea what to do. I was lost and hopeless and staring down the barrel of a life sentence. I had made so many rules and broken them all. I was empty and vacant and I was certain there was nothing left worth saving. And then, what they had always promised came true. And I really didn’t have to do more than get completely willing and honest with myself. I just had to go through a lot of ego-driven heartache before I was ready to truly let go.
Today, I am happy. Things are complex and difficult and painful, but I am happy. I start my day by asking for guidance. I ask to be provided with the things that I need to be a helpful and positive experience in the lives of others. I ask to be a vessel. And at the end of the day I reflect in gratitude.
Having been through what I’ve been through, I can lean on my gratitude for my life no matter what. I am lucky to be alive. I am lucky today, to have the choice.
If I still have that, everything else is just a bonus.
I made it to the other side.