Hell is real and it is not filled with fire, but ice. It is the deepest pit of despair that you could ever imagine, dark, hopeless, and cold. That is what addiction feels like.
The climb out of that place is a simple process, but it is far from easy. Step by step, there are lessons to learn, and this is what I have discovered, so far.
Growing up I was taught the worst thing I could ever become was a drug addict. This message came from society, social programs like D.A.R.E, characters from Hollywood, and my family. At a young age, I made a vow that I would never become one because to do so would be the greatest shame I could bring upon myself.
In college, I limited how much I drank, smoked weed casually, tried mushrooms twice, and ecstasy only once. My defenses were always strong, never possibly allowing myself to become dependent. And then November of 2013 I was introduced to crystal meth.
The beginning stages were the same, I proceeded cautious, guarded, making sure I did not become addicted. But very quickly I lost control and by October 2014 I ended up checking myself into rehab.
For the next year and a half, I had spurts of sobriety, followed by relapse after relapse, each time falling harder and harder. On January 4th, 2016 I hit my rock bottom and decided I had to make a change.
I went to AA meetings for a little over a year to gain a solid foundation, and relearn how to participate and enjoy life. While I cherish the time I was there, I have since left and returned to drinking alcohol. It was never a problem for me, and to be honest I missed having the occasional glass of wine.
For the past two years, I have done an intense examination of my life and deep soul searching. The process has given me tools, help me to find my life’s purpose, and I have learned invaluable lessons. These are the shiniest pearls I have gained, so far.
You are stronger and more resilient than you can possibly imagine. But you have to dig deep to find it.
Think of a time in your life when everything seemed to be crashing down around you and you thought it was the end of the world. What did you do? Did you buckle, or dig deep into your innermost self and find the strength to move forward. You have so much more power and tenacity than what is on the surface. You have to believe in yourself in those hard times because if you give up on yourself, then other people will too. Even if it’s fake and you feel like you’re lying, keep acting. Sooner rather than later you will see what a badass you are at the core and you will find a sense of courage that levels all self-doubt.
To thine own self be true.
You have to be brave enough to let the world see who you truly are. If someone doesn’t like what you have to say or think, that’s their fucking problem. When you deny yourself you are robbing people of the privilege of celebrating your authentic self. The longer you try to change yourself for other people the harder it is to find the real you. Yes, you will probably have to close the windows to some relationships, but you will find others who will swing doors wide open for you. Those are the people who love the real you.
Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.
You can’t solve every problem with grit and willpower alone, and that’s okay. You have to be willing to express humility and open yourself up to accepting peoples grace. And when you ask genuinely for help, most of the time people will be happy to extend their hands and help you get up. Don’t let pride and what you think other people will think of you stop you from getting the assistance you need.
There is nothing more important than loving yourself.
In my opinion, all addiction stems from a place of self-loathing, and disconnection. When you love yourself you will stop participating in things that don’t cause you to grow. Even when the world seems to be against you, and people have turned their backs on you, you must know that you love yourself. This is simple, but not easy. The best thing you can do is fill your heart, mind, soul with things that bring you authentic joy. Find what makes you come alive and cling to it with all your might. When you have a solid foundation of self-love you can walk through any experience with your head held high, and unshakable confidence.
Spend time with people who bring out the best in you, and you them.
Like I said earlier when you show people who you are, you will find your tribe. These are the people who love you through thick and thin, whose support is completely unconditional. These are the friends, mentors, family members, who love you exactly the way you are and don’t try to change you. If you are honest with yourself they should be easy to find. It’s the people who bring a smile to your face and fill your heart with joy. Who gives a shit how many facebook friends, or Instagram followers you have when no one will take your phone call?
Action cures fear.
If you are stuck in anxiety, feeling overwhelmed or helpless, the quickest way out is to do something about it. Often our fears are so much bigger and scarier inside our heads and it creates total paralysis. Figure out exactly what it is that is scaring you, write it down, and figure out what one small step you can take to move forward. When you challenge your fear with that first step forward you will see everything it warned you about was a bluff. Don’t let your fear cage you and make you small, because life is meant to be experienced not observed.
When life is overwhelming, your hopes and dreams are dashed, disappointment has slapped you in the face, and all you can feel is pain, let go. It’s simple, but not easy. Find whatever it is you have faith in; God, Allah, Buddha, The Universe, the process of life, whatever. When you stop trying to control how you feel and accept the situation as it is, you will find freedom. When I need a reminder of how to let go I watch this masters class video from Oprah. It helps me every time.
These are some of the most valuable lessons I have learned so far. These help keep me grounded and a needle out of my arm. Today I have no fear of relapse, but what I do fear is going back to the person I was at my lowest point. If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction and you need someone to listen please email me. I want to spend the rest of my time on Earth loving and helping others heal their lives.
Wishing you a blessed and wonderful day!