I went without drinking for 13 years, in 2017, I picked it up again and instantly was on a path to a familiar hell.
I want to share some things that might be triggering for some individuals. This is solely my personal experience and truth, and it doesn't have to be, nor should it be, applicable to everyone else.
I have been free from all mood and mind-altering substances for six years now. Throughout my journey, there were instances when I had a year here, a year there, and even a few years at one point. Looking back, I realize that during those times when I felt suicidal or fell back into using substances, it was because there were underlying issues that needed healing—a part of the problem that I was oblivious to at the time.
From my perspective and as living proof, I believe that we have the ability to heal the root causes that led us to substance abuse in the first place. No, doctors cannot heal us completely because they can't do the internal work required to address the self-loathing and denial I struggled with for decades.- however I do see that being addicted can be healed, by the deep internal work we as individuals do
I anticipate criticism from the 12-step program, and that's alright. This is my truth, and part of my story is that embracing the belief that I was incurable or viewing myself as a stigmatized version of a human kept me trapped in repetitive cycles. I no longer identify as an addict or an alcoholic—I am not defined by any of the labels that kept me unwell for so long.
12-step programs are remarkable for helping people distance themselves from their substance of choice, AND, the healing process goes beyond the work done within those rooms. Life is constantly evolving, and we need diverse perspectives, fresh insights, and new surroundings to foster growth.
Despite abstaining from alcohol for 13 years, I found myself on the verge of taking my own life within just one month of succumbing to a prolonged period of heavy drinking. During the initial 18 years, I had been in and out of 12-step programs, battling with stimulants, marijuana, pain pills, and so on. Honestly, the problem was never the substance itself—it was the underlying reasons behind why we turned to it in the first place.
Why did I believe at the age of 13 that drinking was a viable option?
Why did I lose my virginity at 14?
Why did I start smoking at 12?
Why did I surround myself with people who got into trouble?
Why did I feel unlovable?
Why did I perceive myself as abnormal and like an outcast?
These were all questions I needed to confront in order to heal—genuinely heal. I love myself so intensely that the thought of putting anything into my body that would hinder my mental clarity or perception of reality feels utterly foreign. I know the lies all too well.
Here's the truth (feel free to challenge it if you wish): we live in a society that harbors a strong dislike for ourselves, leading us to engage in various activities just to escape our present experiences. Loving oneself goes against the grain of societal norms. It's an act of rebellion.
I used excessive exercise as a means to escape from myself.
I sought superficial intimacy through sexual encounters.
I drank excessively to drown out the voices that labeled me as an outcast, a weirdo, or insane.
I smoked excessively to numb the worry of potential problems.
I took too much speed to keep up with the demands of being a mother.
I mindlessly scrolled through distractions to avoid facing issues I wanted to evade.
I used meetings as an escape, still running away from the turmoil that surfaced when I tried to be still.
I relied on friendships as a refuge, desperately seeking someone to assure me that I wasn't alone and to fill the void within me that I couldn't fill on my own.
I became addicted to self-help (yes, it's a thing) because I deemed myself so inadequate that if I wasn't constantly striving to improve, I felt lazy and worthless.
To truly understand the core of my perceptions and challenge the way I thought things were, I had to delve deeper into my life.
Have you ever had someone encourage you to dissect your parents' lives?
Probably not. Yet, that's precisely where I needed to go to heal the multitude of misconceptions about my worth and values.
It may sound wild, and it's true: most of us who are on the path of self-discovery and self-realization are products of parents who carried their own underlying stories. As their children, we embody their greatest fears and unresolved traumas, which manifest within us as an opportunity for healing.
The same applies to future generations. You can choose to resist this perspective, but unless awareness shifts, the cycle will persist.
For years, I relentlessly fought against myself. Learning to truly live was the most challenging decision I had to make. Even though I was slowly destroying myself and everyone around me, I sabotaged my own existence until I finally mustered the courage to dig deeper than what I knew.
As someone who has been more afraid of living than dying, I can assure you that embracing life (not merely surviving) is a miraculous experience. Being a part of the greater cosmos is far more enchanting than I could have ever imagined. It's not because I'm living a grandiose life, but rather because I see the grandeur in everything, and that's what makes life about truly living