I remember sitting in my parent’s basement, getting drunk and high, watching YouTube videos of girls my age telling their stories about how they got sober. I truly believe it was the only thing in my life that gave me any kind of hope for a future. I am unsure if I even knew at that point that I was a real addict/alcoholic, despite the evidence.
The evidence. Anyone else could see it, except me. I was lost in my own delusion and self pity. Dishes were piled up in the sink, burns on the couches and sheets from nodding out at least once a day with a cigarette in my hand, a little dog staring up at me looking more depressed than I was. It was a decent day if I brushed my teeth or took a shower. But mostly, I woke up every morning wondering what I would have to do in order to get money to buy more, because I always needed more. I knew I would have to be numb in order to do some…things. Things that brought me great shame. Things that later on would require many hours of therapy to face. I woke up every morning in a panic. I woke up every morning a slave. This was my normal. You could say I sold my soul to the devil.
When I talk to men and women today about their struggles to get sober I always pay close attention to their breaking points. How much pain does it take to get clean? I then ask myself how much pain did I have to experience to get clean? This is the part that I find the most baffling. My kind seems to have an unmeasurable, over the top threshold for emotional pain. Was it that I found comfort in the suffering or my mind just couldn’t imagine another way of living anymore? At some point, down the dark tunnel, I stopped talking about my problems, which I know now kept me in that darkness for a long time, give or take 10 years. In drug and alcohol treatment centers, they call this “isolating.” I also learned later on that a lot of what I was experiencing, had a “term.” Because, as foreign as it all was to me, I know now that many people experience what I was experiencing. I was not unique. I was not any different.
I learned that many people will have to take a hard look in the mirror at some point and say, “hello, addict,” if they want to start the journey into recovery. Eckhart Tolle wrote, “If you find you’re here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of those three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences.” In my case, I had to first accept what I was in order to start the process of transformation. I couldn't remove myself from the situation, because I was the situation. The transformation had to come from within, and with a lot of guidance, grace and support.
I sit here writing this today with 8 years of continuous sobriety. 8 years of not being enslaved to drugs and alcohol, one day at a time. Is it hard? Any kind of change can be hard at first because I am not comfortable doing something that doesn’t come easy right away. But when I do commit to the change, the satisfaction that comes from achieving something that seems difficult to me brings me overwhelming joy and satisfaction. And at some point, it became my new normal way of living. I've received countless gifts from being sober, but I am most grateful that today I get to be a sober mother to my two beautiful, incredible children. When self pity and fear try to creep up, which happens often, I face it. I use tools that I've learned in recovery to live a life of integrity and courage.