Following is a story of recovery written anonymously by a blog reader. We are sharing stories of recovery throughout September to celebrate Recovery Month. If you have a story to share, at any time of the year, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I was 11 years old I knew I was different than everyone else. People around me seemed happy and appeared to be loved and cared for. Looking back, I now know that my insides played a trick on me.
After some time in recovery, I can now see that my desire to make my insides match others outsides kept me using substances in a quest to fit in. I spent years trying to find out what I could do to make “you” happy. In that journey, I ended up giving up pleasing “you” and can identify exactly when I became more self centered, egotistical and self-loathing.
As time passed MORE was required just to find that low level of normalcy. I could never attain what I thought I had gotten from that first time I used. I remember that first use being a relief, a big sigh, and of course, with the disease of addiction being as powerful as it is, I ran searching for that relief over and over again.
I understand insanity now.
The next 20 years brought some joy, of course, but the sadness and depression that lingered on like a black cloud over me, brought a series of traumatic events, including times which are usually considered joyful: marriage, births, graduations, purchasing a home. None of these could fill the emptiness within me.
Everything on the outside was perfect. Interestingly enough, my outsides were how I believed my insides should feel. My car was exactly what I believed would bring happiness, my children were dressed perfectly, my home a 5 bedroom Victorian in the suburbs with the Viking appliances. Everything was perfect.
So why did I end up homeless, broke and alone? Addiction. My addiction increased my anxiety and depression to a new level. I could not breath at times. My heart would pound, and I would stay curled up in as small a ball as possible in my bed for days on end. Then I would use again. The symptoms of mental health were so great that when I was eventually homeless. I was hospitalized by choice because the hospital staff threatened blue papers. I was suicidal and the substances were not doing their job anymore.
I continued to use substances to manage my mental health, my marriage, my relationships with human beings.
God was there.
Being given the gift of desperation saved me. Funny, I didn’t even know what that meant, the gift of desperation. Slowly over a period of time I have been able to look over my life in recovery and identify the places where GOD (Gift Of Desperation) was evident.
In my early recovery I continued to struggle with the same issues of suicidality, mental health, relationships with others, employability, ego and trust. Slowly over some time I have, moment by moment, been able to adjust to life on life’s terms.
I thought that if I stopped using drugs, life would be full of puppy dogs and butterflies. I was mistaken. My sponsor reminds that it’s in the journey that the joy is, and I have become to believe her.
Today, I have a warm and fuzzy relationship with my Higher Power. My recovery comes first. The longer I am free from active addiction, the better my relationships are with my family, friends and self. The more willingness I have to ask for help and follow direction, the more serenity I experience. I love life and have not thought of suicide for more than a decade.
All of the joy I experience is easier to accept today. The difficult times are not so earth shattering. I wish I could give away the recipe for recovery. I had to navigate through with some pain and suffering to be able to appreciate the freedom from active addiction.
These days I don’t think about using substances at all. People who are in some sort of recovery surround me. I seek out moments of peace and serenity. I ask for help. I practice acceptance.
With God, willingness and open-mindedness and honesty all is possible.