My recovery journey has been difficult at times, but it’s also been so liberating! Addiction is prevalent in our society and all sorts of addictions imprison people. The addictions that I struggled with most in life was alcohol and love. (Codependency) Here is a bit of my recovery journey:
My dad was an alcoholic and my mom was clinically depressed. My mom and dad weren’t mean to me growing up, but surely as a wee infant and toddler, my parents were not able to give me the attention and unconditional love warranted. I learned at an early age to fend for myself and due to living in a somewhat dysfunctional home, I became a people pleaser. I wanted my mom to be happy, and everyone else for that matter, so I let my needs go unmet, stuffed my feelings and became the good girl. I also became a girl who didn’t like confrontation or conflict.
I wasn’t miserable as a teen, but I sometimes got sad and lonely. My friends and I partied fairly often and I began drinking. During college, my drinking became more out of control. I was not happy inside. I remember getting drunk and crying over missing my dad (he died when I was 18) and feeling so lonely.
I ended up getting arrested for underage drinking and charged with a DUI when I was 19. I crashed into a house. It was that DUI that opened my eyes to realize I had a drinking problem.
I also came to terms that I was a lesbian during my freshman year, which for the most part I kept a secret, because back then most people viewed gays as disgusting and insane.
Thus, my drinking escalated. I tried pot several times, but alcohol was my choice. I ended up getting arrested for underage drinking and charged with a DUI when I was 19. I crashed into a house. It was that DUI that opened my eyes to realize I had a drinking problem. Good news is that I had an older friend who was in AA and she dragged my butt to meetings for almost a year. I learned a lot about alcoholism and made a decision to live a life free from booze and move forward toward success. I wanted to live a good life and was willing to do some work to get that.
Well, I did give up alcohol. I met a mature man who did not drink and we ended up getting married and having children. Life was wonderful! My children were my life and being a mom was certainly my calling! I was a good mother, as being a good mother was my primary goal. I got involved with the church and home schooled my kids, thinking that was the best for them. We had a pretty good run for about a decade, but as they grew more independent, I started feeling lonely and empty. I felt depressed. Confused.
I had no idea who I was outside of being a mom.
I was not happy in my marriage. I wanted to be with a woman.
Dilemma? Um. Yeah, ya think?!!
When the kids were teenagers, we had to relocate to an area nearly 12 hours away – that certainly didn’t help. Inside, I was an emotional mess. I felt alone and scared. Then, I met someone. When the kids were 14 and 12, I left my husband for this woman.
All emotional hell broke loose.
I won’t go into details, but divorcing and coming out didn’t go as planned. My kids were devastated and moved out…a loss that utterly devastated me. The pain dug so deep I couldn’t take it. I needed an anesthetic to numb the pain. Did I reach for booze? Drugs? Nope; I reached for love – a strong drug indeed.
I entered a toxic relationship with a woman who became my drug of choice…my high, if you will. When I was with her, getting attention from her, I felt a soothing of that enormous wound. When we were apart, I felt anxiety.
Oh, it seemed like a great relationship, and in some ways it was. Despite those moments of peace, my life was chaotic and dramatic. My emotions were all over the place. The highs were high, but the lows were low. We would break up and my world would spiral. I would go through physical withdrawal. I had an intense fear of being alone…the fear of abandonment.
I didn’t know this at the time. We don’t normally get insight into hellish times until later. Then we’re like, “Oh, now I see why I went through all that shit.”
Shortly into that relationship, I was encouraged to attend Nar-Anon or Codependents Anonymous. I obviously was a basket case due to losing touch with the kids and being in a toxic relationship. I began learning about codependency. Some call this love addiction.
“What? I’m addicted to love? A person?”
Thus, I began a journey to learn about codependency and get my life together. Heal. Grow. I went to the 12 Step group CODA. I got a sponsor. I began reading books and watching YouTube videos on the subject. I began working the 12 Steps and going over them with my sponsor. I started learning about the underlying factors when it comes to addiction.
For me…I started to learn:
- I started acting out through addiction in my teen years with alcohol.
- I simply transferred addictions from alcohol to my children and then to a lover.
- Because I stuffed my feelings since I was a kid, when I left my husband and came out as a lesbian, the rejection that I felt from my children triggered a lifetime of stuffed feelings to come out like a mighty river. I had no idea how to contend with them. I latched onto a lover, but essentially used that love to numb my pain.
- I had this huge fear of abandonment that I had to face and work through.
- I started learning that the pain I felt and encountered in life was not always a bad thing…and I was not bad…AND…that pain beckons us to a spiritual awakening, so when we numb, run, escape, by drinking or drugging or acting out on an addiction, we stifle our spiritual and personal growth.
I really took the time to learn a lot about addiction in general – I still do. I know that a recovery plan helped me tremendously and I still walk the road of recovery today. For me, it looks sort of like this:
- I read about codependency and addiction. All the time.
- If I run into some emotional issues that I cannot handle alone, I reach out for help.
- I meditate regularly – most of the time. Sometimes I get slack, but it’s a discipline in progress.
- I have embraced a spiritual path; a journey that keeps the bigger picture in mind.
- I regularly listen to spiritual and personal development teachers.
- I monitor areas of my life for addiction. (food, alcohol, people, work)
- I work on improving communication skills, being vulnerable, healthy relationship with myself, coping skills, anxiety reduction.
- I encourage and help others via writing and forums.
A good group of society struggles with addiction in one form or another. I mean, we all encounter pain in life, we all find out things don’t go as planned, some are more hard wired for addiction, and so on. By coming through my love addiction via some hard work, I began a journey toward self-love. Turns out I’d forgotten who I was at my core…a beautiful, whole soul.
Today I’m no longer a love-starved little girl. I’ve stepped into my authentic power and, most of the time, I experience a freedom and joy that I’m so grateful for.
Today I’m no longer a love-starved little girl. I’ve stepped into my authentic power and, most of the time, I experience a freedom and joy that I’m so grateful for. I now freely share my story to give others hope. I know that if I can not only get through addiction, but do a whole lot of healing emotionally, anyone can. But it does take some effort and time. It’s not easy, but wow, it’s so worth it.
Is it all glorious? Nah. But it’s progress. It’s a journey. My hope is that if you are reading this and you’re struggling with alcoholism, drug addiction, codependency, or any other type of addiction, you will stop just for a moment and think about what your life would look like without that addiction plaguing and controlling you.
Just sit with that a moment and think: Would you feel free? Happy? Ten times lighter? Peaceful?
If you need help, please reach out. Reach out 50 times if you need to; just don’t give up. You hear me? Don’t give up! We need each other. YOU are not alone. WE are not alone. Support and community help. May we all stretch out a compassionate hand along the way.
You’re worthy of freedom, joy, peace, unconditional love….because YOU are a beautiful soul.
We all are.