In the next couple of weeks, I will be 25 years clean, and after all these years with no substance in me, and a complete life change, I really do sometimes have to pinch myself, this is real. I’d be lying though if I didn’t miss the “simplicity “of drugs, having a vacation from myself sounds absolutely freeing at times.
Life is life, and in recovery there is no shield from reality, no procrastination from what is hurting, or scaring you. The feelings are there, and they are not going to stop. My life is good today, I sometimes feel I haven’t completely grown up, (who really wants to anyway) …yet, I have a job, I am mostly responsible, and the person I was 25 years ago has changed a lot, and today, extremely grateful for what recovery gave me. If I could go back to the freaked-out person that thought she had walked into some cult-like recovery “straight” world, and talk to her, I would want to tell her to stop resisting, “resisting is completely futile”, go with it, and it will all be ok. I fought recovery, like I fought the cod-liver oil my grandmother used to give me, it tasted like shit, but she kept saying “get it down, it’s good for you” …..as is everything in life?
All of us I am sure would want the chance to start life again, clean slate, reinventing ourselves. I was taught that leopards don’t change their spots, people don’t change, you are what you are. Thank God, I proved that one wrong, as I wouldn’t be here today, pretty sure I would be dead.
The whole using and drinking lifestyle was fascinating to me, living on the edge, being in charge of my life…or in the end… not. The one thing that took me a long time to get my head around was that I really wasn’t in control, not of the drugs I took, the dangers they were putting me in, the risks of dying or being hurt, or being in jail. All of it wasn’t in my control.
Even when I finally went to treatment, I remember thinking now I can get my life back in control, well no…. not even. I was back to being a “kid “in a way and had to learn what was right or wrong, I couldn’t even buy a chocolate bar when I wanted one.
The ironic thing was I could’ve taken control and walked out of that treatment centre anytime, straight back to the drugs and alcohol, but I didn’t. I have thought about this for years, why did I stay? I used to threaten on a daily basis I was leaving, this was shit, thinking I knew all the answers, and I didn’t need them. Well, I showed them, I stayed, Why? Because I knew in my heart that I had no such control, and a big part of me wanted to live, and have a real life. Now that I work in the treatment / addiction industry, I would’ve kicked me out of treatment, I was a right pain in the ass. Don’t get me wrong though, being in a treatment centre and having to be honest, and willing and open to the idea that others knew more than I did, really did suck. It wasn’t a cake walk, but neither was my life being addicted and slowly dying, knowing that the stubborn ass that I was, committing to the dream of a Junkie, addict, going nowhere fast was becoming more ridiculous and less the fantasy I thought I was living.
Each year many people around the world celebrate birthdays of years of being clean and sober, and it’s a big deal. At nearly 25, a quarter of a century, OMG, I can say that it has been a journey, and one that I remember, and that fantasy of control wasn’t “all that” either. What I thought was control, was total and complete annihilation, of myself and all those around me, and it wasn’t going to improve if I stayed out there. I didn’t want to be part of the” recovery” brigade. I was sure I could do it better or differently. I was terrified I would become some “jo blog” normie, paying my taxes, being a good girl, and walking the straight line. I can say honestly today, the reality is far from it. Being part of a rather colourful, dark and diverse community of people in recovery, we are all in the trenches together, but we have all had our journeys to get there. You couldn’t find another group of oddballs and assorted people with the best sense of humours out there.
I used to wonder why it was such a big deal to celebrate our “clean-time” birthdays, the clapping, the cake, and all the accolades, great for the dopamine and ego levels. It’s because many don’t make it, and it is a miracle we got here. It is a wonderful thing to see people arrive in treatment with the look of an opossum in the headlights, angry, scared and alone, seeing that resistance in their faces, and thinking, “I remember what that felt like, it will get easier”
If you are reading this, and thinking about treatment, or stopping your drug and alcohol use, read through our website, and the links below, ask for help, don’t second guess yourself, you deserve to get better, you deserve to be better. Remember, many, many people have gone before you, and they know how it feels to get to that stage where you know you can’t do this alone anymore, and that doesn’t make you weak.
I have met some of the strongest, amazing, passionate people since arriving in rehab 25 years ago, and I still pinch myself that I am still here – it’s a journey worth doing, all you have to do is decide and “just do it”
In the words of Sir Elton John – “I realized that I only had two choices: I was either going to die or I was going to live, and which one did I want to do? And then I said those words, ‘I’ll get help,’ or, ‘I need help. I’ll get help.’ And my life turned around. Ridiculous for a human being to take 16 years to say, ‘I need help.’”