As I write this, tears are falling down my face. I just found out that another one of my friends has passed away to the disease of addiction. I’m left speechless. Tired from the pain of all the losses I’ve seen over the years.
Naturally, I wonder where I would be today if I never got sober. Thinking that It could have been me. Less than nine years ago, I, too, was suffering from active addiction, committing slow suicide every time I picked up a drink or drug.
And yet, here I am. Clean and sober and living life on life’s terms, as they say in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous. I can sit here and say, “I don’t know why I made it.” But the truth is, I do. I made it because I did the work.
Doing the work
I dove headfirst into recovery like my life depended on it, because my life did depend on it. A few months after physically getting sober, that is, just removing the substances, not the problems, I had what I call a soft-core suicide attempt. I went to the top of a mountain to roll down it and end the pain and suffering. But I couldn’t do it. Instead, I sat there and looked up into the sky and for the first moment in years (if not ever) I felt peace.
It lasted for a second. But it was enough to give me hope. It was as if God had said, “It’s going to be okay.” That was all I needed to keep fighting. For months, I fought, devoting my soul and all my energy into recovery. I went to IOP and eventually individualized therapy, I read as many self-help books as I could, I started taking medication for my mental illness, and I cried a lot.
I remembered how I struggled through those months, not sure if I would ever fully recover. Wondering if I would forever be a slave to the pain. I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to continue living either.
Glimpsing hope from addiction
I could see a light at the end of the tunnel. Not personally. But I listened to all the people who had years of sobriety under their belts who could see the light for me and guided me towards it. I had hope, despite all the pain telling me otherwise.
I did the 12 Steps of AA (and other 12 Step programs) multiple times over the years, once every year up until my fifth year. The steps are built to help you recover and feel better, so I figured why not keep doing them and continue the process to enter a deeper stage of recovery. I was so f***ed and knew I needed constant work. Being aware that I had a lot of problems and suffering as a result of them, I was determined to be free from them.
I believe this mindset saved my life.
Every time I did the Steps I uncovered and discovered so many new layers of myself every time I did the Steps. I had to change everything about myself — the way I thought, my belief system, basically everything that fed my addiction and kept me from wanting to face reality.
It was incredibly painful. I cried more than I have in my entire life the first year of my recovery. But just how time heals old wounds, time (and hard work) made life less painful.
I started to uncover and discover the beautiful parts of me. Parts that seemed to be so buried under fear, insecurity, and trauma that I forgot were there, or didn’t know how to access. I started to feel whole again.
Walking in the light
I’m at the end of the tunnel. Passing through the darkness into the light, I can confidently say that I am recovered.
Now, that doesn’t mean I get to do whatever I want. Because I assure you, my addiction is hiding in the corner, waiting to creep into my brain and attack as soon as it sees the opportunity.
My mission now is to never provide it with the opportunity. Every day I am constantly working towards something: achieving my goals and dreams, improving my spirituality, developing more self-love, healing my trauma and fear.
I’ve had a complete and total transformation. My lifestyle choices are different. Instead of going out every night at 10pm, I’m in bed by then. Instead of throwing my body around and using it for approval, I treat it like a temple. I’ve released the desire to constantly try to prove myself.
Today, I am walking in the sunshine of the spirit. I hold my head up high and spread love wherever I go.
So for my friend who just passed, to my friends who have been passed, and to those who will pass, I carry you in my heart. You are reminders of the cruel reality of the disease of addiction. Your lives and your stories have helped me to continue the fight when it feels too hard.
I love you and I miss you. Goodbye, for now, my friends.