My feelings of self-doubt and low self-esteem began at an early stage in my life. Being the middle sibling, I naturally had always looked up to my older brother. My insecurities began to develop when I felt that he was being favored. It created an internal conflict of placing my brother on a pedestal and idealizing him from love, to devaluing him out of jealousy. From a young age, I had difficulty in believing in myself and my capabilities. Drugs and alcohol provided a false sense of security for myself. Once I began using and drinking, the guilt and shame only intensified my feelings of insecurity. I remember when I was younger, I would attend anti-drug seminars and never believed I would choose such a destructive path to go down. Now in recovery, I still find myself quite insecure at times. Codependency has always been a struggle of mine as I am always trying to please everyone around me. My learning disabilities makes it difficult for me to feel good enough or worthy. I am learning to realize that these negative thoughts of self-doubt do not define me as a person. When I feel these thoughts creeping in, I become aware and take contrary action to those thoughts. In doing so, I am beginning to find strength and confidence in myself and am slowly understanding what it truly means to believe in myself.
I came to believe a lot more about myself through my journey in recovery. I felt I was only valuable to others when I was in my addiction. I didn’t believe anything that anyone told me about myself because I was hopeless and didn’t feel worthy. Learning about my self-worth was only possible when I made the decision to get clean. Finding my value also came from the help of others telling me positive affirmations. I was in denial at first, but after giving myself a chance, I was able to truly believe I was worthy and not just to others. I found I enjoy helping others just as much as their help has allowed me to grow. I now find myself doing selfless acts whether through my art of passion or simply just talking to another addict. I once had a hopeless state of mind and now only see a world full of opportunity and possibility. The progress I have made in my recovery is only motivating me to continue to progress forward.
Addicts are control freaks, I’m a control freak. With a loaded syringe in hand I feel unstoppable… no fear, no pain. I’m 10 feet tall and bulletproof. And then I come down and all of that perfection, that beautiful control, just falls to crap.
I have always believed that self-control is strength. That calmness in chaos is mastery. That being able to get to a point where my mood doesn’t change because of outside circumstances is the ultimate expression of power. I have always believed that letting emotions overpower intelligence is weakness and that if I could master self-control, I could master anything. I still believe those things to some extent, but no one can stay in control all the time.
Intellectually, I know that the more I try to control something, the more that thing controls me. But if I'm honest, I'm afraid that breaking down might be the end of my sanity. Admitting I don’t know how to play the hand I’ve been dealt might defeat me. I’m afraid that letting go of what little control I have left will push me over the edge and I won’t be able to come back from it. These days I don’t wonder why people go crazy. I wonder why people don’t. In the face of what we can lose in a day, in an instant, I wonder what the hell it is that makes us hold it together.
The problem with addiction is even when I think I’m in control, I’m not. When the ground falls out from under me and my world collapses, maybe I just need to have faith and trust that I can survive this. Maybe I just need to hold on tight while letting go…
I don’t think anybody likes to lose control, but to an addict there’s nothing worse. It’s a sign of weakness, of giving up. Still, there always comes a time when it just gets away from you, when the world stops spinning, and you realize your shiny little needle isn’t going to save you. No matter how hard you fight it, you fall. It’s scary as hell. Except there’s an upside to the free fall. It’s the chance you give others to catch you.
I know that when I strive and work to be my best self, I can really make a difference and accomplish many things. For many years, I always felt it necessary to impress people or to be noticed by being somebody I never was. My behaviors would change based on the groups of people I was around in order to fit in and feel accepted. My behaviors and attitudes were always edited by others. I never had the opportunity of knowing my true self because I never gave myself the chance. Now that I am clean and away from all of the negative influences, I am now able to see what I am capable of. I am intelligent and not the stupid person I believed I was for so long. I am confident that I can accomplish my goals if I set my mind to something and believe in myself. Defeat is no longer an option. If I make a mistake, I pick myself back up, learn from it, and try it again. Nobody is perfect but today I can say that I truly am proud of the man I am and who I am still becoming… and with each day, I learn something more about myself.