Peaceful woman sitting cross legged doing yoga and meditating.

Are You Keeping Your New Years Resolution?

The stakes are always higher and the promises to yourself and others always carry more weight when you’re battling addiction. Those who are currently in recovery will probably agree with me. When you set a goal or make a plan, you feel as though the weight of your entire recovery and well-being rests on that plan, and that if you don’t follow through, you’re a failure. The problem with this is that you start to feel so heavy of a weight in your perceived obligations to others, that you lose sight of the one person that actually matters and that you’re getting help for: you.

Woman holding shining light in her hand.

Shining a Light on Myself

I always thought that I was just one of those people that was broken; one of those people that would never be completely normal. I would feel these incredibly low lows and worry about everything to the point where enjoying life ceased to be an option. I couldn’t explain it, nor did I ever think that there was anything to explain. It seemed clear to me that this was just life and that I had better accept it. When I started drinking, I found an outlet that allowed me to feel happy and relaxed; an outlet that allowed for a temporary escape from the real me.

Depressed woman looking through rainy window.

Alcohol and Depression

For years it felt like I was living in darkness. I didn’t know how to feel good or normal. If I didn’t know what was wrong with me, how could I fix it? My parents did everything they could to try and make me happy, but in the end, it just wasn’t enough. I think that if someone would have recognized my depression for what it was early on then I would have had a much better childhood; but in my family, clinical depression wasn’t even a concept. Everything could be cured through circumstance. It was a very superficial way of looking at life, but it’s all anyone knew.

Path sign pointing 2 ways reading solution or problem.

Choosing The Right Path

One of the things people in recovery talk about most is what they lost in the wake of their addictions. They’ll talk about broken families, destroyed careers, dysfunctional relationships and everything else; but I’ve rarely heard someone discuss how addiction makes you lose yourself. I had abused alcohol for five years, during which time I ceased to be the person I had always been. At the end of it all, this is what has stuck with me the most. I had lost the pride and the integrity that made me who I was and, to this day, that has been incredibly hard for me to reconcile.

The door to recovery and revelation.

A New Perception

For a while, I didn’t know what I was feeling; I just knew that I wanted to stop feeling it, and that the only thing that seemed to make it better was alcohol. I was an incoherent ball of emotion and drank to calm myself down. Depression had ruled my life since I was 15 years old. I missed out on a lot of things as a child because I didn’t want to associate with anyone outside of my house. School was a nightmare, to the point where, one year, I missed 68 days. There had been no real trauma that I can pinpoint that had caused this; I just felt sad all the time.

Blindfolded woman judge holding gavel,

Reserve All Judgment

People often say that things aren’t always what they seem. Perhaps nowhere is this expression more appropriate than in the context of addiction and mental illness. You can look at someone destroy themselves with drugs and alcohol and immediately judge them without even realizing it—I’ve been through this and I’m still guilty of it myself. When you hear about someone going to jail for robbing a pharmacy or getting their third DUI, the natural response is to point out what a train-wreck that person has become.

Young woman giving thumbs up sign.

Give Yourself The Chance

People always assume that addiction exists on its own; like the person that drinks too much or takes pills to numb themselves does so because they want to. I have a bit of advice for anyone that ever had a snide word to say about someone’s addiction: until you’re prepared to listen to them discuss the tragedies and trauma that led to that abuse, you should probably keep your mouth shut. For years I had to listen to people tell me that there was something wrong with me, and they were right, but they were completely wrong about what that something was.

Closet alcoholic woman drinking from flask.

Acceptance

My mother struggled with alcoholism for years, as did her mother before her. When you’re working against those kinds of odds, it’s hard not to become a self-fulfilling prophecy and fall into alcoholism yourself. This is exactly what happened to me. I became acutely aware of my family history early on and was so determined to not let it affect me that I obsessed over it and, without realizing it, let it take over my life. I’m probably the only person that was so anxious about becoming an alcoholic that I became an alcoholic despite my best efforts and intentions.

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