So, it turns out recovery is hard work sometimes. It seems like I must have already known this. Maybe that is what kept me in addiction for so long. In the beginning of my journey, I felt like I was on the treadmill of life running on a 12% incline. Change is hard and growth is painful. I didn’t want any more pain. I already had plenty of that. As far as change goes, I didn’t believe it was possible for me to change. I needed to live the the pain of change.
I have never expected anyone that has not experienced the process of addiction to understand how an addict’s thought process works because I am not sure I fully understand it myself. As bizarre as an addict’s behavior and lifestyle may seem to the outside world, it is fully functional for us. Why? How? Because our needs are being met, and addiction is our comfort zone. We found ways to satisfy the void we desperately wish to fill. We found a way to hide from pain and emotions. Eventually, we are hiding from life. In time, this is all we know. We have programmed our brains to work this way. This is functional!
As long as I had drugs to hide behind, I didn’t have to worry about being myself. Stepping outside of alcohol, drugs, or an eating disorder is frightening for an addict. For years I have battled a tendency to shy away from circumstances or situations that made me uncomfortable. I have an avoidant personality, and drug addiction did not help this at all. Addiction made the problem worse. Addiction allowed me to begin hiding from any and all situations or people that made me feel uncomfortable. I tried not to worry as much over whether or not people liked me. I just told myself people didn’t like me for being “real,” when in fact, there was nothing “real” about me. I was fake. Phony. Plastic. I was just the replica of the mom, friend, and sister I was once was. Getting clean and sober was going to force me to confront the real me. Confronting the real me was not easy. I feared people weren’t going to like who I was because I certainly didn’t. In fact, I hated myself. Not only did I hate myself, I had no idea who I was anymore. I had lost all passion about any hobbies or activities I once enjoyed. I couldn’t even tell you my favorite song or movie anymore. Getting high was my passion. Getting high was my hobby. My whole identity was wrapped up in being a drug addict. I even made jokes and laughed at my ridiculous life. I see now I was merely using humor as a defense mechanism.
I’ll assure you, there was a lot of work involved in getting to know myself again. I struggled to find my passion again. It took some months to stop feeling like a ghost in a shell. I found out on the other side of this fear and pain was peace, but I couldn’t heal what I refused to confront. I took several weeks sorting through the things and people that caused me pain. I had to let go of many things and forgive. Dwelling on it and letting it take up space in my head was only bringing me more pain and holding me back from growing in recovery. I started the long, slow process of forgiving myself and rediscovering who I was. Throughout this process, I began to do what I once thought was impossible: love myself. I did this with the help of a counselor in treatment. Some may choose to do this with a therapist, sponsor, or a pastor. Finding someone with empathy that can be trusted is important. From time to time a painful experience still comes to mind, and once again, I have to sort through the thoughts, feelings, and emotions attached to the experience. Confronting, not repressing, my thoughts, feeling, and emotions have helped me let these negative feelings go. Realizing and accepting nothing can be done to change the past helped me move forward. I made a conscious decision to forgive the people that had wronged me. Once again, this involved confronting many things I had repressed for years through addiction, but I found freedom in forgiveness. I was even able to hope for blessings for my offenders.
If I wanted something different, I had to do something different. Recovery means doing some things I had never done before and doing old things in new ways. It means changing the way I think about things, the way I process my emotions, the way I handle stress, and the way I look at life. Recovery means change, even though the changes can be painful. Recovery means stepping out of a comfort zone. Recovery means letting go of my past failures as well as resentments and forgiving myself and others that have offended me. Recovery is ever changing my outlook on life and building character within me. Every part of my struggle has been worth it. I live life in peace and freedom today.
My name is Candace, and I am a recovered addict since 6-17-14.
If you personally have a story to share, or a treatment center, or are someone in the addiction recovery field, and would like to share your story on our page please email me (The owner) at SubstanceforYou@Gmail.com
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