Some might believe that getting clean from drugs and alcohol means that you’re cured, but that is an absolute misconception because getting clean is only the first step in the battle of substance abuse. I have a friend who has been clean for over fifteen years and she celebrates her sobriety date just like her birthday and, in reality, it is a birthday, because the day you stop self-medicating is like birth. It’s a re-birth; you are born again, and emerge from a place that had imprisoned you for days, months, and years.
It’s funny how, some, who have never had to endure the battle look at others in the struggle as being weak-minded without any willpower. Compassion is usually the first thing that leaves the heart(s) of the person(s) dealing with the substance abuser, because in many cases the abuser has breached trust by lying, stealing, and perhaps even abusing their loved ones and friends, and it is understandable how hard it can be to have any sympathy for the abuser — especially when they have tested your patience beyond the limits.
It is really an emotional rollercoaster on both sides of the scale, because the abuser, during brief moments of clarity, sees the light and will get clean, but then, without blinking an eye, the friend or family member begins to see them returning to their old routine again and, honestly, it gets old. The thing I have to remind myself, as I stand on the opposite side of substance abuse now, is that it is a progressive disease and that being in remission does not mean “cured” it means that the disease has been halted. A lot of people believe that it is curable, but again, it is only a mistaken belief.
Some call addiction the “Sleeping Tiger” and it really is too, because if it is awakened the abuser doesn’t start new in their usage, it picks right back up where it left off and sometimes it’s roar is even louder than it was the previous time(s) when the person has used. I remember when I relapsed the first time, I didn’t immediately dive back into using, it crept up slowly, and the next thing I knew I was back in the driver’s seat heading for that final bend in the road, where I was destined to lose control and go over the cliff, if I didn’t quit using.
During my outpatient rehab stint, I learned a great deal about myself and because I took the time to really understand how addiction worked, I was educated enough to know what to do when I got back into trouble again. I knew that in order for me to get this thing back in remission I had to do some serious soul-searching, because even though I gotten clean before, I still had unresolved issues that had not been addressed. It’s funny because I remember telling my substance abuse counselor that I was clean, but I still had depression. Well, I must say that, the outpatient facility is really about getting you clean, and spitting you out, so that you can return to work.
So, I returned back to work clean and sober, but still suffering from a serious depression. The emptiness and the loneliness were unbearable and, eventually, I slipped up and picked up the bottle and the drugs again without trying to figure out why I was feeling the way I was feeling. I also began to hang out with those “old” friends who were still using.
Because I had relapsed, the cover-up routine started again, and I tried to mask the fact that I had succumbed to my addiction again. I was embarrassed and ashamed because I was letting everybody down, but I now know that it isn’t about letting everybody else down, it was about letting me down again.
My new journey to recovery began one Sunday morning while I was watching this televangelist (Yeah, I know, but that morning’s topic was exactly on point for me). It was about stepping out on faith and following what your heart is telling you; what I realized is that there was once a time when I had dreams of writing, acting, singing, doing something creative with my life, but once I landed “The Good Job” I got complacent. I was grateful for being employed because I was receiving a steady paycheck, medical benefits, and 401K options, but I was desolate inside. Over the years the emptiness compounded and got worse. Getting my head bad and associating with people that got high was how I chose to deal with the emptiness, because I didn’t want to be alone with in my thoughts. I knew I had to leave, but leaving had never been an option because I had a “Good Job”.
The more I expressed this to friends, family, and cohorts, the more I heard “You need to be thankful for the job you got. You need to see that you are blessed. You need to…” No, what I needed to do was stop letting other people put me in their “safety box”. The televangelist said that we all have our own path in this life, some of us are comfortable in the grind of the 9-5, but others are not. I was one of the those who was not happy in the 9-5 grind, and it wasn’t because I was ungrateful, it was because I had another calling in life, a creative calling.
I was literally riding on fumes when I left the corporate world, but the months prior to my departure I took a leave from work and went back to the hospital and got back into therapy, this time it wasn’t for substance abuse, it was for clinical depression. Depression, like substance abuse, is also a disease that is progressive, and if it is not tended to then, like any other disease that is not treated, it leads to death.
The fight to reclaim my life and win it back from the darkness of depression was a serious battle for me, but I refused to let it dim my light. The hospital tried to make me use the “group-setting” therapy that I had already used and had graduated from and I had to point-blank tell them that it was fine in the beginning, but now my battle is on a more personal level. Group session had its place in the earliest stages of my fight, but I had received all the benefits of the “sharing” approach. I no longer needed to “share” and “listen” to other people’s plights, because I was on the tail end of a breakthrough in my own and that fight needed to take place during a one on one session that would allow me to focus on “me”.
Reluctantly, they permitted me to work one on one with two counselors and the miracle happened during a session with one of them. He told me to do a time line which involved me going back in time and uncovering the points in my life where the road forked and when my depression began. Well, while lying in bed one evening, loaded up on antidepressants, I did exactly that, I went back in time to the place where my road forked, and it started when I was in the fourth grade. It was when I realized that my sexuality was different from the other boys. That one moment in time changed my world forever and I had been struggling for years trying to understand where the unhappiness was coming from. I learned that I hated myself and who I was, I had an epiphany.
I looked for love in the arms of and in the opinions of other people instead of learning how to love myself. I never celebrated my accomplishments, I always needed the affirmation from other people, I needed to hear somebody say that I was worthy and that I was talented, and that I was this and that, because I wasn’t getting it at home –especially once my grandmother passed away. Living that way I subjected myself to a life of being judged instead of remembering who I was. I had to discover who I was. I had to embrace who I was. I had to find and listen to my own inner voice and trust that I knew what was best for me.
A lot of people thought I was out of mind when I took the buyout and left a 26 year stint at my job, but what they didn’t know is that I was finally stepping out on faith, and taking the reins of my life and moving forward out of the shadows of others. So, I learned who I was.
I am a kind-hearted individual.
I am a spiritually connected individual who loves Got and he loves me.
I like living a simple life with quality people in my circle.
I am a listener and a shoulder for my friends.
I am a writer and an inspirer.
I am sensitive and beautiful.
I am honest and respectful of other people.
I am not a doormat for anyone to wipe their feet on.
I have opinions and thoughts that matter.
I don’t have to be in the company of everyone to feel whole.
I value life and every living thing in it.
I celebrate my own accomplishments.
I identify who I want in my life and I keep them in it based off of how they treat me.
I am no less or more than anyone else.
I am not someone else’s life, I am my own.
I am not someone else’s misery that belongs to them.
I am an encourager of others.
I am not a know-it-all and I always to learn something from every experience.
I am not selfish, I am giving.
I am not afraid of another’s differences.
I am a devout believer in love and the tranquil existence.
I choose life because it is filled with so much beauty.
I choose life because it chose me.
(I hope someone finds inspiration in this true story)
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Author G. D. Grace reserves all rights and reproduction without written permission is not permitted. If found, legal action will be taken against the person(s) or company(s) that have cut or pasted (Plagiarized) any portion of this written document. Author, G. D. Grace; Published © 2010 APRIL