Dear Addiction, Thank You!
Have you ever wanted to write a letter to someone or something to let them know exactly how you feel? We’ve all been there. It is the letter to the boyfriend that broke your heart. A letter to boss that you wish you’d never had. The child, parent, or spouse you’ve lost. Maybe it’s a letter to the child you were never able to have. I realize, of course, that we hardly ever write letters anymore, so feel free to substitute writing with whatever works for you.
I’ve written letters from a therapeutic perspective at various points in my recovery journey to help resolve resentments or to serve as a starting point to deal with feelings I initially couldn’t handle. Writing is also a great way to motivate myself onto the next great thing. Sometimes it’s just easier to say goodbye in a letter.
Writing doesn’t have to be a tool for just for addicts and alcoholics. It could be saying goodbye to eating junk food, or the career you thought you wanted. Maybe it’s saying goodbye to someone you lost unexpectedly. Regardless of the reason, writing is a great way to put something behind you so you can focus your energy on what’s ahead. Writing is an opportunity to say everything you want to say when you didn’t have the chance. It’s healing.
My letters to my old vices in those early days of struggling to get clean and sober were full of anger and hate. I hated the fact that I couldn’t drink like normal people. I hated that I couldn’t go 24 hours without putting something in my body. I hated that I wasn’t achieving what I knew I was capable of – what my teachers, parents, everyone around me knew I was capable of doing.
The anger I held toward others was an attempt to disguise the fact that I was actually disappointed with me. Anger was an easy emotion for me and one I felt totally comfortable with. When I was angry, it was another reason to engage in whatever self-destructive behavior popped into my head. And there were plenty!
Anger truly is fear turned inward. I was so fearful of everything– but you would never have seen that. I was not always afraid of obvious things, I feared things that you can’t quantify, such as fear of failure. I was fearful of the fact that I knew I could never stop drinking on my own. I was fearful that if I actually succeeded at killing myself, I’d end up in hell which is more miserable than where I was already. I was fearful of the fact that after my parents passed away, I’d be all alone. (Never mind the fact that I had the most wonderful husband in the world who I overlooked for a moment, the best family I could ask for, and friends that stuck by me no matter what.)
Fear is a crazy enemy. Not admitting fear only kept me stuck in a lonely place. When I learned to replace my fear with faith, life got easier.
The letter I’d write today would be quite different from past letters because it would be full of gratitude. Everyone faces challenges in life. Those of us who have struggled with addiction are no exception. Once we get to other side of whatever difficulty was before us, we can look back to see the strength and courage we had to get through that challenge. We may find that we learned a life lesson in the process. It’s those life lessons that I’m the most grateful for.
So what would you say to someone or something that had a sole purpose to destroy you? Addiction is not interested in seeing you succeed. It wants you to ultimately be left with nothing.
Here is what I would say:
“Dear addiction, thank you! Thank you for taking me to the depths of hell so that I could rise above stronger and more faith-filled then I’ve ever been. Thank you for stripping me of everything I had so that I could earn back what was most precious to me. Thank you for allowing me to see that unless I choose to give up, there is nothing that can stop me from succeeding. Thank you for introducing me to 12-step programs that gave me a new way to live, another “family” to count on. Thank you for re-introducing me to the God of my understanding (who never left my side even when I gave up on Him). Thank you for making me see that the love of my life is the one I’m meant to be with. Thank you for letting me be the best mom I can be to my four-legged children whose college I don’t have to pay for. (LOL!)”
I could obviously go on, but I think you get the point.
Without having gone down the road I traveled, I never would have become the person I am today. Because my Higher Power has a greater purpose for me, He chose to let me live when I should have died.
He let me live when I truly never wanted to see tomorrow. When someone asks what is there to look forward to after drinking, I simply say, “life is what you can look forward to.” I can make life anything I want to today because I’m grateful for everything– the good and bad. No regrets.