I’ve awoken to find myself in hell. A singular thought, an obsessive craving, scratching and tearing at my mind. Every passing moment intensifying the swell. I found myself in sweat and aches, punching at my skull through bed sheet. Inflicting pain upon my face with fist. Anything to escape the stagnant pressing of decrepit bodily function. Anything to take myself away from the cold sweat, the churning of my gut, the clenching of my muscles, the itching and clawing of my skin, the black mold festering within my veins, the insanity of necessity: the lamentation of my mind.
The calamity of knowing exactly what I need to feel better, but having no means of acquiring it. Trapped in a room with no exit. No escape from the pain I brought upon myself. Suffering in silence as my body began to choke.
Gritting my teeth under covers, immersed in sweat and frustration. I began to search within myself for hope.
I’ve been in recovery.
I’ve held on to hope long enough to remain drug free for a minute, an hour, a day. I learned from others experiences living in a world where manufactured escape is not an option. A world where every emotion felt, every negative thought experienced, could be shared with another. A world consisting of people showing me what gratitude looks like, what happiness feels like, and what freedom can do for someone who no longer needs anything to be ok.
I was participating in the recovery of others as I addressed my own.
I began to discover that every honest thought I shared, every emotion I attempted to display, seemed to help those around me. I began to view my own experiences and mind-set as a tool for attracting the things I want to hear, want to see. The filter around my thoughts was removed. I no longer held my tongue. I no longer felt judgement, ridicule, or shame. I no longer needed approval from anyone or anything besides myself.
I found my gut, my conscience, fully intact. I started to look at the world with child-like wonder. I let my own passion drive me forward. I no longer had to hide from the experiences of my past. In recovery, I found honesty. Embarked on a journey of self-discovery that began as quickly as I decided to be honest with who I am and what I want out of life.
Part 1: Recovery
The story begins with recovery. I am a drug addict and an alcoholic. When I drink and use drugs, I am unable to stop. Through several bouts of experimentation, I have found that no amount of controlled drinking or drugging ever prevents me from the craving and obsession of another drink or drug. It’s as if the conscious decision to introduce a substance into my body creates an absence within my spirit that needs to be constantly maintained. As I live and learn, I’ve realized that the abuse of drugs and alcohol is not the problem. The problem is within me. My entire adult life had been a constant means of escaping.
Before I ever tried drugs and alcohol, I escaped through entertainment. I played videogames for hours; I spent whole days glued in front of the computer monitor with no thought to my own personal hygiene or diet. When I entered high-school, I began to stand out in athletics. I used drugs and alcohol more than recreationally and quit the basketball team my senior year to give myself more time to drink and drug without responsibility.
It wouldn’t be until my sophomore year of college that I finally found myself completely unable to control the manifestations of my own alcoholism.
I used drugs and drank because it felt good. The problem is that I always want to feel good. I used substances to stave off my own feelings of fear and inadequacy in social situations. I used substances to supplement my confidence. I used substances whenever I felt lonely, rejected, bored, or anxious. I used substances to increase my happiness and joy. I used substances because it always felt good, and for a time, I could control it.
Using drugs and alcohol gave me a quick fix and an easy escape from a life without purpose; a life with waves of emotional instability that I could level off with every ingested pill, swallowed liquid, or inhaled puff of smoke.
The following passages are examples of the work I did to allow myself to become free from the obsession of drinking and drugging. Free from craving; free to pursue life on my own terms. If it were not for therapy provided by a twelve-step program, I would not be as I am today.
After my second stay in a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, I began working a system of recovery focused around the 12-steps. The first step was admitting that I was powerless over drugs and alcohol and that my life had become unmanageable. I was advised by my sponsor to provide him with ten examples of my own powerlessness:
10 Examples of Powerlessness
I shot up heroin when I said I never would
I lost my athletic scholarship because of drug use.
I checked into a treatment center after trying to stay sober on my own
I convinced a friend to bring me Suboxone while I was in treatment.
I pawned all of my possessions to support my habit.
I pawned my Mom’s Wii
I stole 500 dollars from my Mom’s inheritance
I tried to steal my mom’s car and television while going through withdrawal.
I found a wallet at work and the owner asked me to hold it for them. I stole 60 dollars out of it.
I’ve never had just one beer
After completing the first step, I moved on to the second step. I had to become willing to believe that a higher power could restore me to sanity. A task that seemed farfetched. An idea of God that I was unwilling to chase or even entertain.
To me, it is irrelevant.
I was honest about my own skepticism towards the idea of God being the only one to fix me. Others would engage me frequently relating that they felt the same way. I found that to move on from this step, all I had to accept was that everything I had done leading up to this moment in my life was my own self-will.
Essentially, I was gonna take myself out of the equation.
I simplified the step and chose to believe that if I used drugs or alchohol, I would be acting out of my own self-will.
Essentially, I warped the step to wrap my mind around it. I decided to say, in my mind, that I was willing to believe that the removal of “me” would restore me to sanity. It worked. I still did as my sponsor suggested when he asked me to give him ten characteristics of my own higher power:
10 Characteristics of Higher Power
In everyone & everything
The following notes are taken directly from my fourth step. This step was one of the most important aspects of my recovery. It allowed me to write out all of the people in my life that I had harmed, all of the people I had resentments towards, and my own fears. The process was a painful one. I felt complete shame and regret as I delved into the demons and unspoken issues of my past. Never before had I approached this step with complete honesty and willingness. The process of writing and sharing the misfortunes and poor choices of my past allowed me to accept everything as it was and live free.
I wanted to feel better. I wanted to live my life without pain and regret. I was told that if I completed the twelve steps, I would achieve this.
Completing the fourth step and sharing it with someone else provided me an intensive therapeutic experience. Every action, every step I took leading up to this task prepared me for the influx of emotion I would experience.
Although I had harmed many people, the most difficult memory for me to move past was that of my ex-girlfriend.
I was still in love with her.
My heart was broken and I used drugs with merciless fervor to escape my own feelings of loneliness, heartache, and longing…
From “A Glance Inside the Minds Eye” (Part 1: Recovery)