A Little Piece of My Mind

By: Amanda M.

My thoughts are like wound up gears. Always trying to figure things and driving me a short trip to crazy. Will I ever figure out the secret of life? I know I learned two huge lessons on my pathway to recovery. One: Life is redundantly unfair. Two: Mistakes are more necessary than toilet paper.

I was becoming quite good friends with mistakes…the closer we got the more we would argue. Seemed I was always wrong. I was like a dog with a cropped tail chasing it, convinced I wouId eventually get what I was so desperately after. Boy, was that wrong. Eventually I quit trying to figure out where I went wrong and just accepted the fact that I went wrong. I spent most of my life struggling to be better than everyone expected me to be.

For the greater part of my life I excelled at everything I did. Sports, music, education, parenting… and then one day the worst thing I imagined happened… never mind what it was. Each of us has our own tragic event all different in their own right yet it ironically seems to affect us with the same level of pain.  For me a lifetime of built up suppressed pain led to self destruction. Chances are you had at least one of those days… or maybe many of those days. Lord knows I did.

What my recovery means to me is that I stand on my own two feet with a clear mind of my own, unaltered by anything outside of me. I face every emotion and thought attached to it. I am a baby in my recovery. I remember moments of deep darkness. I remember feeling like I couldn’t breathe and even if I could, why bother. I was never so weak and hopeless as to end my life immediately, but I was foolish and oblivious to the fact that I was doing the same thing only slowly and without abandon. The forced separation of those I loved seemed necessary. I couldn’t bear them to see me like I was and I couldn’t bear facing them either. Dwelling on the pain of something I had no control over, and feeding off the anger of how could this render me senseless. It was as if I were drowning and every time I came up for air someone was there to push my head back under. It seemed people stood there and watched me drown. Instead of throwing me a life vest they threw me an anchor. I no longer wanted to come up for air.

Despite the fact I could not breathe I hid in the shadows under the water hoping the ones who seemed to take pleasure in my pain would fade into the distance. Tired of treading in the weightless water I knew this was no life for me and I remembered that beyond those shadows there was a light and in that light was the life I started and the life I intended on finishing. Oh, remember those people I mentioned who I prayed would fade?  They never did. In fact they are still standing there hoping I fall back under. I just got smart and swam away.

I spent a great deal of days incarcerated in local county jails. I met countless women who all had similar stories. Many of them were moms and daughters, sisters, wives, and friends. All making choices that led them to certain death and destruction. Oddly enough none of them cared about their mistakes until it was too late. Bridges burned and desperation set in. For me I was fortunate that this was my first time royally screwing up. Many of these girls begged and begged for another chance and my question to them was… Do you really mean it? I listened to their stories and gave the best advice I could, only to see their faces recycle in and out over and over and each time they were deeper in their addiction. I was convinced it was because no one believed in them.  Too many times we depend on others to have faith in us but what we fail to understand is that if we don’t have faith in ourselves we can’t expect anyone else to.

Once I truly believed I could do this… I knew I could do it. No one could tell me otherwise. Through the stories of others who I could relate to and with the help of group therapy, individual sessions, 12-step meetings, and being an advocate to recovery I am able to proudly get through another day of life sober. I set daily, weekly, monthly, and annual goals that keep me on track. I try and learn from every person I come in contact with and I speak from my heart. I pray constantly and God fills me with the strength and love I need to get by each day.

I can only celebrate my recovery because I have a plan. That plan is to show my children that life is made up of mistakes and without them we wouldn’t know how to be the best we can be. Without a mistake you cannot have success. If I can take my big mistakes and own them, learn from them, grow from them, and not repeat them then the nature of those mistakes cannot haunt me forever for I have forgiven myself and I can proudly say that because of the choices I made I am greater than I ever imagined. If I can pass that along to my children and anyone else who can relate to my story then I have done my best and my best is all I can give. This, my friend, means I am living life and living it in remission from my disease… addiction.

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