I had so many things to say as I wrote this post at 3am this morning, in my head, in bed. It was genius. Now, at almost 3pm I can’t remember any of the funny, intelligent and witty things I wanted to say. Oh, well. Just bare with me, there is a point.
Last night, I went to the recovery group I went to outpatient rehab at in December of 2011. Seems like a lifetime ago. Seems like another person. It was and I am. I went to visitors night because I should be going every Thursday night, but I say I am too busy. I say I don’t want to miss time with my daughter. Truth, it can be painful. I like to forget who I was, how “bad” it was. The therapist that leads that group has no problem reminding me of who and what I was when I walked into his office over 4 years ago. I was drinking all day every day and living off of alcohol and cigarettes. My doctor had told me from tests that my liver was failing. I was going to die. Me. Vanessa was a full blown bottom of the barrel alcoholic. At this point, I had lost everything. My face was busted after a physical altercation with a close friend. I had nothing. My life meant nothing. One person had slowly watched me kill myself. He watched the addiction kill me. People can argue over addiction and what that means, but I won’t. If I did not have the disease of addiction, I would never have been there.
I am a smart and capable person. I make generally intelligent decisions. I like myself. I love myself. Addiction took all of that from me. What caused my decent and why it lasted so long is debatable. What could have been done to prevent it is debatable. It really doesn’t matter for me now. What matters is moving forward. I know that logically, but I can’t accept it sometimes. Sometimes my addiction is screaming at me. It tells me it is too late. I am a screw up. I am a mess. I have made too many mistakes. I have hurt too many people. People, even me, have trouble separating me from my addiction. In a way, we are the same. I cannot be separated from my addiction. It shapes me. No, I am not my past, but it does define parts of me. It tells my story. Yes, I can change what happens going forward.
When I got sober I thought I was free of my addiction. I am not. I have to free myself every day. My addiction, my disease, is part of me. It is there telling me I will never be better than that girl who had nothing to live for. It tells me I am not worth loving. While I know those things are not true, it is yelling them so loudly sometimes, I cannot hear that soft quiet whisper that I am loved, that I am worthy, that I am worth staying sober.
When things get hard, which they do, I falter. They always do. Life is freaking hard. I struggle. I don’t want to drink, but I do want to forget. I do want to shut off my addiction. I have found that the only way to do that is by focusing your energy in other ways. I have found that finding people who love you and lift you up is essential. Which is exactly why being around other people in recovery is so important. They get it. They know. They understand.
Right now, as the world as I know it crashes around me, I feel small and overwhelmed. However, at the same time, I feel happy and proud. There is so much good happening right now. There is so much that is right. It is funny to me when I talk to my close friends who say, oh things are not perfect? But you looked so happy in that picture! I was happy! I am happy. I have joy! That doesn’t negate the fact that there are other hard things happening outside of that pictures. There can be happy and sad things happening at the same exact time. I can feel more than one emotion at the same time. Is that weird? Do other people not?
I can cry about something completely unrelated to why I have tears in my eyes. My brain can multi-task emotion. Emotions are not mutually exclusive. I think of it as, I feel like I am drowning, but overall the temperature of the water is very pleasant. I know I will get my breath. I know I will find my rhythm and swim away, but the waves sometimes seem too big. Thankfully, I am not by myself. Thankfully, I know I will get a life raft if I need it. These struggles, make me a stronger swimmer. These swells are taking me to new places. It is almost impossible to remember this when I am sinking. The crazy part is that I am so close to paradise it is laughable that I think I am drowning at the shoreline. The trick. Keep kicking when you can’t swim. Always keep moving.
It is when I stop moving that I fall to the bottom. I have to have goals to give me that motivation to keep moving. And sometimes, I have to have someone pull me to the surface. Right now, I needed that. That was why I went to a meeting. That is why I need to go to meetings. I also have to be reminded of how far from the bottom of the deepest, darkest ocean I have come from. I have to be reminded that I am not dead. I have to just look up. Always look up and I will remember the beauty of where I am. I will be thankful that I can even swim at all.
I am thankful for the pain, because I know that it allows me to feel this immense joy. I am thankful that I know how bad it can really be, because I know how amazing things really are, too. There are so many sayings from AA that run through my mind on tough days. Yes, this too shall pass. Yes, one day at a time, one moment at a time is all I can handle right now. I am thankful that I can handle it without numbing myself. I am grateful I am strong enough to get through pain and heartache by pure will and determination. I am thankful I am a child of God who knows my worth and knows that I am worth it to Him to keep going. I am not who I used to be. I am not my addiction.