Feelings don’t kill you…but the drugs will!
This month marks 16 months clean from opiates. I recently started attending NA/AA meetings. I have come to realize that the reason I have only ever made it 2 years being sober is because I never understood what was needed to stay clean until I started going to these meetings regularly, and hearing other people’s stories, that in many ways, are very similar to my own. The program works because I’m hearing from people who have 15+ years sober.
Tonight I went to a meeting and through hearing other stories I realize that much of my choices up until now were symptoms of a bigger problem. It is a big problem with my thinking, my insecurities, my anxieties, my need to try to fix everyone in my life in spite of it being unhealthy for myself, accepting expectations put on me from others when they are unhealthy for me to do so, a problem with setting and keeping boundaries. The people I chose to love were symptoms of this bigger problem. I chose my first husband because he helped me run from my dad dying, and he kept me in supply of the heroin, opium I smoked, and the pills I took so that I could ignore my emotions about my dad dying. I chose my second husband because I needed an out from my tumultuous life at that point. I was grasping onto him to help myself stay sober, and run away from problems I wanted to ignore. I wasn’t sober for long because our relationship was so toxic it gave me an excuse to use again and not face the ultimate problem that was inside of me. Symptoms of a bigger problem I wasn’t ready to face until now.
I realize that fear has run my life up until this very moment. I made bad choices because I was afraid of so much. I was afraid I wasn’t enough for anyone unless I was high. I feared the loneliness I felt when I wasn’t high. I feared not having the answers I seemed to have every single time I was high. When you’re high you’re brilliant and have all the answers. I feared not being able to finish projects, homework, household chores when I wasn’t high because of my physical disability. I feared personal connections to other people without the help from drugs because what if they hurt me? Right? I feared silence because I wasn’t comfortable being sober and quiet. I quit attending NA meetings years ago because it terrified me to be that person in those meetings admitting to having no control over my addiction. I was terrified to stand up and let those people know just how fucked up I’ve been since age 17. I feared what society would think. What would my family think? What if it didn’t work. What would my sober friends think? What would my using friends think? I feared speaking about my inadequacies. What if I went back to using, which I did over and over because I allowed the fear to continue to control my thinking and my actions.
Now that I’ve leaned into the fear and entered the doors of NA/AA I realize it wasn’t something to be in fear of at all. The room is full of people who struggle with the same thought processes. Some of the people have suffered trauma in childhood just like I did. The room is full of people who want to live sober just like me. The room is full of support and full of people who actually understand me. The room is full of people who actually give a shit about me.
Outside that room it doesn’t matter what anyone in society thinks because they do not struggle with what I struggle with and because of that they have no understanding or compassion for my disease of addiction. What they think of me doesn’t matter. What matters is what I think of myself and I think I matter enough now to attend these meetings and stay strong in my sobriety.
By doing this for myself I know I will no longer make choices from the symptoms I suffer from and fear will not play a part in my decision making. I know I can do this because I will be free from chemicals changing my thought process and I will not be numbing myself to feelings that I am supposed to feel as a human. I will stand in my power and understand better that anxiety passes, I will remember and understand all humans feel these things I’ve been afraid of my whole life and there is no need to medicate them away because those feelings are not going to kill me, but my drugs of choice will.
I am so grateful for my 16 months of sobriety and so thankful that I finally committed to the meetings to stay that way! My higher power is amazing.