The stigma attached to drug addiction and alcoholism runs deeply throughout society… There are simple words linked to those affected, that are not only bothersome, but completely inaccurate: drunk, druggie, junkie, boozer, troubled, messed up, alky, wino, crack head, coke whore, stoner, tweaker, pill popper, burn out… the list goes on.
The truth? Addiction is a disease. So, instead of throwing out bombs of discrepant, offensive expressions, here’s a piece of what I wish people understood, all while knowing that not everyone is meant to understand my journey, or anyone else’s for that matter.
We are not broken. I walked through the doors of multiple treatment centers, multiple twelve-step meetings and multiple churches, looking to be healed. The healing needed to happen within and I needed to understand that I was not broken in the first place. Our disease may attempt to steal our energy, but intellectually and spiritually speaking, we are not broken. We are struggling to find our way out of the pits of hell onto solid ground again.
You cannot make us drink or use. While life would be perfect if there were no flaws, no irruptions, no chaos, it would not be life. There are ups and downs, ins and outs. Without these things, we would not be able to understand the depth of gratitude we owe on the good days and the bad. Whatever happens in this world, no matter the good news or bad news you share, you don’t have the power to drive us to drink or use. Our disease does, which is why I find it important to work on a spiritual basis and continue to have faith in God to remove all those desires.
We’re going to be ok. This goes with the previous statement, but we will be ok. We don’t have to be protected, locked in a room with people walking on egg shells around us. That’s more irritating than anything. Be real. Be honest. Understand that we know the responsibility that comes with recovery and we are capable of surviving, the good and the bad.
We are not our past. While it’s easy to remember all the shitty things we’ve done, the people we have hurt, the pain we have caused… we are no longer those people. In fact, we build from those experiences and learn how to do the right thing based off of so many wrongs. Our futures are brighter and better because of the darkness we’ve walked through… and we know we put you through hell too.
It takes time. Recovery is a journey. There is no destination. We will have good days and bad days, but in time, we learn to cope with the bad days as we celebrate the good days. We are not perfect people, and we don’t strive to be. We know mistakes will be made, amends will come, and life will change. And it all happens over an extended time because we are simply learning.
We appreciate you. This is the most important piece in my recovery journey and I’m sure in a lot of others. I always make sure to tell people, “I love you” or “I appreciate you”, because it’s genuine. I have an amazing amount of gratitude for the people who have stood by me, welcomed me back into their lives or simply encourage me with day to day activities. We don’t say it often enough, especially to those who are closest to us, but we appreciate you. Your existence in our world is an incredible gift in and of itself.
There’s so much more that could be included in this… but for whatever reason, these few pieces needed to be shared today.