Today marks 12 years since I had a drink or a drug in my system. I don’t say this to brag, boast, or parade around my clean time. That’s not my intentions at all. Instead, I want to show anyone else out there that may be struggling, that may be in the grips of addiction, full of despair, that there is hope. Please don’t give up, I promise you that there are better days ahead if you are ready to surrender.
Now, I understand that surrendering is easier said than done and I can whole-heartedly attest to that. It took me about 4 years to actually realize that I needed help and concede to the fact that I was an addict. I was under the impression that asking for support or assistance and admitting I had a problem was a sign of weakness. But what did I know? Absolutely nothing. I was hardheaded, very stubborn, and extremely willful. I thought I had my drug use under control, my life all figured out, and I told myself I could stop whenever I wanted to, but that was clearly not the case.
To this day, I thank the God of my understanding for giving me the courage, the power, and the strength to finally throw my hands up and admit I was powerless over my addiction. Not once, but twice because I relapsed almost 6 months in during my first go at recovery. I say this with pride now, when before I was quite ashamed when it happened. At the time, I didn’t think that I was the type of person who would or should relapse, but that was me putting myself on a pedestal and disqualifying myself from other addicts in the rooms. I compared myself to this person or that person, and kept telling myself, “I wasn’t like them”, because they may have done things I’ve never done. I was focusing on the wrong things, and in doing so, totally missed the signs, missed the similarities, and missed the most important and life changing message of them all…
IT WASN’T ABOUT THE DRUGS. Let me say that again, it wasn’t about the drugs. They were only a symptom of the bigger problem, which was me. My inability to deal with life on life’s terms was the problem. My inability to deal with my feelings was the problem. My inability to feel comfortable in my own skin, to be confident in who I was, and to respect myself was the problem. Once I came to this realization, navigating my life got easier, but there was still a tremendous amount of work to be done on myself. I knew I was only a bad decision away from picking up again and had to be diligent, smart, and very aware of my disease.
And throughout the last 12 years, I still have to keep an eye and be cognizant of this disease. I still have to be consciously aware of myself, including my actions, my motives, and my intentions. Because I know that the disease of addiction is always there, just waiting for the perfect time to pounce. It’s an opportunistic entity and knows exactly what situations may bring one of my flaws to the surface. It’s constantly ready to catch me off guard and that means I have be on high alert, listening, looking, feeling in case it wants to catch me off guard; which is done, within every single moment of every single day. As a result, I will remind myself that even though I haven’t used in a long time does NOT mean those old behaviors aren’t there. Because they are. That does NOT mean those old habits aren’t there. Because they are. Therefore, on a daily basis, I have to make a conscious effort to arrest them before they can incite chaos in my life and provoke me to sabotage everything that I’ve worked so hard for.
That’s why I always keep my recovery upfront because I truly believe what grows in the dark, dies in the light. So, when I bring up my clean time, it’s not only to inspire others, but it’s also necessary for me to recognize the journey I took to get where I am today. I was in bad shape when I got clean. I was mentally, physical, emotionally, and spiritually bankrupt. I didn’t know who I was, what I wanted to do, and why I was even alive. That is no longer the case anymore. I know who I am today. I know what I am passion about today. And I know why I am alive today.
I am here to inspire others. I am here to help others. I am here to support others. I am here to guide others with the sole purpose of motivating them to become the better versions of themselves one day at a time.
I know that none of this would even be remotely possible if I wasn’t clean. So I thank my Higher Power daily for the gift of recovery. Because by keeping it in the day, I’m able to remind myself that all I have is today, all I have is these 24 hours, just like the next person. And with each passing day, each 24 hours, I’ve been able to accumulate some clean time under my belt.
12 years to be exact on this very day, no matter what.