I knew, long before I was ever ready to start fighting, what my biggest battle in life would be. I knew that I was an addict when I was still very young, before I could even manage to inflict very much damage on myself, or those around me. I understood, on a certain level, that I “partied” differently than other people- I was already worried about where and how I would get more the moment I got my hands on my particular poison. There was a brief, tiny moment of relief the second the substance hit my blood stream- and then the next second, I was thinking about how I could make it last, how I needed to pace myself, how I could find more, how I would get it, who I would get it from. It was a full time job, my addiction.
I used to think, under a different set of circumstances, I could use happily. If only I could hold a job, and had enough money- if I could be in a different environment, one where I wasn’t just relying on other people to keep my head above water, maybe then I could use drugs and it would be okay. So, God blessed me with that set of circumstances, and I got to see that there was a whole new set of reasons why I couldn’t use successfully that way either. Suddenly, I had the fear of being found out. I had the fear of losing everything I had worked so hard for. I had the shame, now, of living a lie. I actually found myself missing the days when I could just be a bold, in-your-face fuck up. Hiding was ALWAYS part of the deal, but this was a whole new level of fakery. It sucked.
And it was a blessing. My addiction, in all of it’s forms, has been a blessing. I was blessed with obstacles, and I was blessed with the ability to overcome them. Because I am who I am, I never would have been able to get to where I am right now if I hadn’t gotten to beat that poor dead horse from every conceivable angle. I needed to run myself into the ground, exhaust every option, until I was able to admit that I had no idea how to master this thing- that it had mastered me. Only then was I able to surrender, and it was the greatest blessing of all- surrender became my only way out, and better than any relief I’d ever experienced from any drug. Better by far.
I have been blessed to live this life, hard as it was, because it brought me here. That doesn’t mean I don’t have regrets- I do. Oh boy, do I. Every single day of my life, I deal with memories that surface out of nowhere, filling me with the most exquisite shame, embarrassment, sorrow. Things I have said and done to people I barely knew, or people whom I love greatly-they run the gamut from just a little stupid to outright cruel, and I struggle to forgive myself. To forgive that girl- that dumb kid, really, that I was. It’s rough. I didn’t just stay in the shadows of the world during my active addiction so much as I inflicted myself upon people. I was not easy to deal with, to say the least. And I have to live with that knowledge, and the scope of it. I am the only one who knows just how wide my path of destruction really was, after all.
Where is the blessing in that? Well, let me tell you- it keeps me stepping carefully today. Knowing what I am capable of, how sharp my tongue can be, how short my fuse, I am careful. I know well the feeling of regret, and I don’t want anymore. I am learning how to think things through, and how to stop myself, and when I can’t, well…I have learned how to apologize. I am truly a better person today because of who I was in my addiction- and yes, almost anything would have been better than who I was then, but I what I mean is, I have worked very hard to be a good person. Someone who thinks very hard- maybe too hard sometimes- about how I want to show up in the world. I don’t think I would have thought this much about what kind of person I wanted to be if I hadn’t been where I have been. Pain is a catalyst for growth, and I have had a lot of pain. And a lot of growth.
I do not recommend that life to anyone- there is no guarantee that you will ever get to the depths I experienced if you find yourself in that world, but there is no guarantee that you won’t, either. There’s no guarantee that you won’t fall further than I did, and there is no guarantee that you will ever find your way out. But I choose to see that life as a blessing because of what came after it- the love I have been able to experience as a result of my recovery, the way I know for sure that it could be so, so much worse. The way that, even on my very shittiest day clean, I can still stand to look someone in the eye. I couldn’t do that on my best day using. I think that there is a blessing in every cross we bear. It’s just up to us to figure out what that blessing is.