So, I would just like to start off by saying that I am so honored to have been asked to share my story. (HUGE shoutout to FCA's Sherpa program!)
The fact that others see the strides that I have made over the past few months is such an awesome feeling. For years, on and off, I’ve struggled with addiction and fighting those demons in my head, many times letting them totally consume me. Today things are very much different, and God willing, things will continue to look up from here! But like I said, life felt so grim and dark for so long. Let me tell you a little bit of what life looked like then, how I got out of those dark moments that felt as if they would never end, and what life looks like today! Here is a condensed version of my story, from the once hopeless, active drug addict that I was to the recovering sober woman that I am working on every day!
I took my first sip of alcohol at 16 years old. I was a very insecure teenager who felt very lost, so when I realized that getting drunk allowed me to be confident and outgoing, I ran with it. Right off the bat, I knew my drinking habits were way different than those of my friends. I did not even want to look at that then though, because my new best friend (alcohol) helped me become the girl I wanted to be! I needed to be in total control so I got a fake ID. I would not longer have to be waiting around for an older kid to get me my liquid courage that I so desperately needed. How would I be able to go to parties on weekends without it? That could not happen. Everything was going to be great from here on out. How wrong and delusional I was!
Soon enough, the alcohol that was once the “cure” to all my issues was no longer enough. It stopped doing what it did in the beginning. I was still depressed, insecure, and anxiety ridden. I needed something “better”. Alcoholism/drug addiction is sneaky like that! The beleif that this disease is progressive is certianly true. I started messing around with different pills. Each time I tried something new, I fell in love.
It was that instant relief I was looking for my whole life. I never wanted to be in reality. Drugs and alcohol definitely helped me out with that one! But with that whole escaping reality “help” that I was getting, I was spiraling down into a living hell. The opiate pills turned into powder and the Adderall proceeded to become crystals. As time went on and my addiction became stronger, so did the drugs.
I tried getting sober for the first time around 18 years old. I have had periods of sobriety throughout the years but it never lasted. I attended 12-step meetings regularly but I wasn’t working on myself so the sober periods were really just periods of abstinence. Throughout the years of being in and out of recovery, the addiction voice in my head became louder each time I relapsed. And with what I learned during my periods of recovery, the guilt of using again became unbearable when I would return to these habits. And with each time I would use again, things became worse and more out of hand. Countless overdoses, detoxes, psych wards and rehab program. Things I never imagined I would do for my next high became reality for me…
I was so exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. Every single way a person could be tired, I experienced it. The merry-go-round that I was on had to stop. And if it didn’t stop, I knew I would die. Death got closer each time. My body, mind and spirit just couldn’t continue like this. Like every addict/alcoholic out there, I had a mind that couldn't get enough and a body that couldn't take any more.
So, fast forward to where I am at now and how the hell I was accepting as life came to an end. Three months ago, I decided to get off that merry-go-round. The gift of desperation was real. I knew I deserved more than what I was giving myself. I knew I wanted a better quality of life. And throughout my eight years of being in and out of recovery, I knew it was possible!
I saw other people who were once as hopeless as I was have a new glow and aura about them and I wanted it! I wanted it so badly. I was as desperate for that as I once was for the drugs to escape the seeming horrible reality that was my life. Drugs and alcohol weren’t the solution to my problems anymore, recovery and working on myself was. So, I plugged back into the recovery scene.
I am in a 12-step program, I have an amazing sponsor who I am working the steps with, and I have an awesome support group by my side. The thought that I could just coast by and stay sober without doing any work turned out to be the major piece of the recovery puzzle that I was missing. Now that I’m doing the VITAL work on myself, my life and my recovery has become so different. I’ve never felt so content and as proud of myself as I do this time around. But listen, life isn’t perfect just because I’m sober. I have days where I feel crappy and not my best. I’m not a recovery/sobriety robot. One of the cliches I used to hate, “Progress not perfection”, turns out to be profoundly true!
I now always try to remain patient with myself and realize that I am only human. It’s totally normal to have bad days! Today, I no longer have to use drugs to numb out those uncomfortable feelings and bad days. I have people in my support group I can reach out to, I have my higher power to pray to, and I have meetings to attend where I feel at home.
I am beyond grateful for the life I have today. I still have a long way to go, though. Recovery isn’t something that will ever be completed. There’s no graduation from this. I have to stay vigilant and work at this every single day if I want to keep the life I have worked so hard for. I’ve heard that, “You can’t stay sober on yesterday’s recovery, just like you couldn’t get high on yesterday’s drugs!”. This is an absolute fact. One day at a time, I am doing things to improve myself and my life.
I love the fact that I am able to share my story with everyone, too. Part of working on myself and progressing in my recovery is giving hope to others who feel as hopeless as I once did. I also am super grateful to have survived active addiction because not everyone does. I’ve lost so many amazing friends to this disease. I truly believe that part of my purpose today is to be the voice of all those friends I have lost because, unfortunately, they no longer have a voice. So, I am here to tell anyone struggling out there, thinking that there’s no way out, feeling like they are too broken to be fixed, and believing they’re too lost to ever be found, RECOVERY IS POSSIBLE AND YOU ARE WORTH IT! I am living, breathing proof.
I get it. It’s scary to ask for help. It’s terrifying to let go of all the things we’ve used to cope with uncomfortable feelings and life situations for so long.But I’m telling you, even though it was very scary and foreign to me, letting go and asking for help is the thing that SAVED my life and gave me a life worth living. We are all deserving of recovery and I promise that it is 1,000% attainable!
⁃Natasha M., recovering alcoholic/addict