In the past month I have been doing a lot of thinking about addiction. I am a recovering drug addict and self-harm addict, and despite being clean from both for a good chunk of time I continue to live with addiction every day of my life. The beautiful thing is that yes, I am faced with urges frequently, temptation, and pain that used to push me to relapse…but I know now that I ultimately have the power to make the decision to stay clean…And I deserve to stay clean.
It is completely healthy to have urges, to have thoughts and desires to relapse! I struggled with this concept for years. I would be so hard on myself about this that I would end up pushing myself to relapse. What is not healthy is having the urge or desire and going through with it. This is where positive coping skills come in, and if you read previous posts on this blog you can see some of the millions of positive coping skills there are that can and will get you past the urges clean.
Almost five years ago I was still living in Michigan where I was born and raised, I was freshly medically retired from the Marine Corps and in the worst of my addiction. I was homeless at the time, living in my car, cutting myself several times every day and abusing my medication to numb the excruciating emotional agony I was in…and had been in for many years. I remember sitting in the drivers seat of my Saturn shaking from the cold because I had turned the heater off…because I had crushed about five milligrams of Klonopin up and was snorting it so I could find enough peace to attempt to sleep. My hands were incredibly chapped from the cold Michigan air to the point where they would bleed, and my eyes ached from crying. By this point I knew I seriously needed help, but I was scared that I would fail and that I would run to death again.
The previous year I had attempted suicide several times, each time I had been taken to the naval hospital in Pensacola to have my stomach pumped, and the last time I had been successful in killing myself. By the time someone realized I had overdosed on my psychiatric medication and got me to the emergency room it was too late to pump my stomach. I remember waking up in the ICU to a nurse rubbing my arm and telling me she was so happy to see me awake. Apparently none of them had expected me to come back. You think I would have learned, that I would have changed my life right around two weeks later when I was able to resume normal life out of the hospital….but it apparently wasn’t enough.
So, here I was in Michigan, high as a mother fucker every day of my life, living in my car, taking showers and using the restroom at my friend’s house, absolutely petrified to step out of this fog of addiction and into recovery. I seriously knew I needed help, my body hurt, my soul hurt. I even began having medical problems that no twenty-year-old should. Finally I went to Narcotics Anonymous and started asking people where I could find help.
I had been attending NA meetings off and on since I had arrived home from the Marines, but, usually around my first thirty days clean I would relapse and find myself high and/or drunk. One time I had came to with my head being held under a shower, a finger down my throat because I had passed out and my girlfriend at the time found me on the floor of a bathroom with a guy I didn’t know trying to get my clothes off. I never stayed clean for long…because I was afraid, and because I didn’t believe my own life was worth fighting for.
I sat in that NA meeting and spoke at the table, begging someone to help me, begging for another addict to tell me which way was up. Finally a few did! They came to me after the meeting was over and told me about a place called “Safe Step”. “Safe Step” is a recovery house for recovering addicts and alcoholics to live in while attending therapy and NA/AA meetings to help them obtain sobriety…and more importantly, learn how to live a happy and healthy life while maintaining sobriety. This is a link to their website in case you would like to read about them (although it looks like temporarily it is under construction…grrr) http://www.safesteprecovery.com/
A very important thing that one of the counselors at “Safe Step” taught me was in the beginning of recovery, sometimes you have to think of someone or something worth living for and worth getting well for. For a lot of recovering addicts of any kind, in the beginning self-worth is non-existent and trying to fight to stay alive and clean for yourself is impossible. For the first year of my recovery, it was my mom that I was fighting for…and for future children I so desperately wanted to have. After the first year, two relapses afterwards, until today I began fighting not only for my mom and my future babies, but for my own life…because I deserve it and I am ecstatic to be alive and well.
Ultimately, if you want to get clean from whatever addiction you suffer from…or if it is from depression, anxiety, anger, etc…grab the wheel of your life and steer yourself back onto the road…get out of the ditch. You’re going to make mistakes along the way and more than likely you will relapse at least once. News flash! You’re human and just because you make mistakes doesn’t mean you are a bad person or a failure…you have to get back on that road and keep driving! Take one day at a time, one task at a time…one hour at a time if you have to. You will get there so long as you don’t give up, look to “the winners” who are also in recovery for support, give a twelve step program a real chance and most importantly trust in your higher power!
I love you all!