Submitted by: Jamie Thompson
I was scared when I started my recovery. I was always worried what people thought about me. I was a street corner addict. I come from a family where addiction and alcoholism was a way of life. We drank, shot dope and went to prison. These are the people I was around growing up. They were very unemotional people. The only two emotions shared in my house was anger and depression. The only time anyone smiled was when they were under the influence of drugs and alcohol. I thought this was the normal thing to do in life.
The feelings I had in my gut made me feel like something was wrong with me. No one else ever talked about how I felt.
My family nor the dope fiends I hung out with ever talked about love and caring. No one ever came up to me, hugged me, or asked me how my day was.
I did things in active addiction that I thought I would never do. Part of my addiction was sex addiction. I felt so bad about myself that I would pay for someone to act like they cared about me, to make me feel good. I thought no one felt the way I felt.
My biggest secret was that I thought I was different than everyone else. I thought if anyone knew who I was, they wouldn’t like me and that the people around me would make me an outcast. Everything I did in active addiction was out of fear. I was afraid of how I felt, what I thought about myself and what everyone else thought about me. I had an image that I had to live up to, which was that I wasn’t afraid of anything or anybody. I didn’t let anyone get close to me because I was afraid they would hurt me. I was afraid of being abandoned and alone. I was afraid of not being loved.
When I did that first drug, that feeling in my gut melted away. I didn’t care anymore. All the sudden it didn’t matter anymore if no one loved me. I felt warm on the inside and I was okay with me being me. That feeling was what I was looking for during the first thirteen years of my life. When I was high, there was nothing I couldn’t do and nobody I couldn’t be. Finding the courage was as easy as drinking a beer and smoking a joint.
Without the drugs, my self-esteem didn’t exist and I felt everything. The fear and pain came back. I started to ride the merry-go-round of using and getting clean. What once worked was working no more and I didn’t know how to stop. I spent a few years chasing that first high that made me feel better. I never caught it. I was miserable with and without booze and drugs. I thought about suicide. My self-esteem told me I was a piece of crap. I couldn’t go to anyone and tell them I was scared.
A man from the fellowship came to the detox center I was in and shared his story. He began to talk about how he felt. What was this guy doing talking about his feelings? He wasn’t supposed to that. By the end of his story, my thoughts began to change. Here was a man that has been to the places I’ve been and felt pain just like me. Now, he can talk about his feelings.
This man took me to my first meeting where someone walked up to me and gave me a hug. It felt foreign but good. I started hearing people share their stories about their secrets and how they were now able to live a happy and productive life. For the first time in my life, I felt like, just maybe, I was in a place where it was safe to talk about how I felt. I was so motivated by pain that I was ready to do whatever it took to be like them. I wanted to be free of the shame and guilt. It took me about a year before I was brave enough to open up and talk about how I felt and the things I had done.
I don’t have to be ashamed that I feel like using sometimes. I am proud of the tools I have that allow me to work through those tough times. I don’t have to be ashamed to tell someone I need a hug. I am confident when I talk to a friend about what I’m going through. I know they aren’t going to laugh at me or shun me.
The dreams I had as a young boy have come true. I have a beautiful loving wife that I love and an incredible baby girl. I have not only my wife to share my feelings with, I have an entire fellowship that will listen to me. I have the house I always dreamed of. I pay my bills on time and have a savings account. My life is filled with freedom and joy. I am thankful for my past because without it, I would not be where I am today. I thank God for working the miracle to change my life around.