There were many areas in my life I didn’t want to accept and places that I thought were working against me, only fueling my disease. In reality, nobody accepted my actions or behaviors due to my short temper with trying to find a solution to balance. I thought I could manage my using and drinking but I could not. For a long time I believed that I could but that happened to not be the case. I know deep inside I couldn’t control but couldn’t find the courage to admit it to anybody. I played the denial card every time. It was not until after many attempts of treatment and relapses that I finally grew tired of the insanity cycle I became stuck in. I was hopeless and my body was tired. I let my physical state dictate my actions. This was a moment of mental exhaustion that brought me to surrender. I’ve come a long way from that point of view, but it began with surrendering and being willing. It is never easy nor fun, especially when old ways of thinking and coping begin to creep up. I find this to happen most when I start feeling discouraged and life seems to feel impossible. I have learned to not let these thoughts discourage my progress. Life was unmanageable when I was using. Accepting these facts through experience only made it more clear to me that acceptance is the key to many open doors in my life.
I used to think living in acceptance meant condoning hurtful behavior or situations. I thought acceptance meant expecting little out of life, that it was a passive action – I thought acceptance meant defeat. However, something I’ve learned at South Orange County Detox & Treatment is that my definition of acceptance was wrong. In reality, acceptance releases the power my life circumstances had over me. When things don’t go my way and I’m living in acceptance, I don’t become paralyzed by negative emotions such as anger, fear, resentment, or regret – which inevitably lead to relapse.
One of the best passages on acceptance can be found in Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation-some fact of my life-unacceptable to me, and can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes”
As an addict, I’m constantly having to rethink what I thought was true and redefine it. It can be scary to find out you’ve been wrong about something. But I can’t be afraid to change my mind, to accept that things are different… That they’ll never be the same, for better or for worse. I have to be willing to give up what I used to believe. The more I’m willing to accept what is, and not what I thought; I’ll find myself exactly where I belong.
Sometimes, things are simply out of my control. I can’t change them. I can’t bend them to my will. So, actually finding out that I’ve been looking at things all wrong is liberating. Suddenly there's a new potential where I’ve never seen it before. And that’s all fine- when suddenly a hopeless situation looks hopeful.
I have always struggled with patience. All my life I have been used to the instant gratification provided by either my relationships that were codependent or the instant high that my needle and drugs could give me. I have given up many life choices because of my lack of patience. In some instances, in my past, if I were to show patience I would be in a much different setting in my life today with a lot going for me. Instead, I gave all those choices up for the quick solution provided by my own will. Patience shows God’s will. Sometimes it’s hard for me to accept it, but He knows what’s best and if I trust Him, He will guide me exactly where I need to be. Although I still do struggle with patience, I have gotten much better in these two years of sobriety and clean time. I have learned to try not to rush things and take it easy. Every time I receive so much more through my higher power versus my own will. If you are praying for patience, be careful, you might just get what you wish for.
Patience is a virtue and at times it can be virtually impossible to with-hold. Through the years of active addiction and instant gratification, I found that patience was a moral that didn’t exist when I was dope sick. Although overtime I began to build a tolerance to being patient while waiting for my fix to arrive because kicking and crying didn’t solve anything in the moment. At that time being patient was the only thing I could really rely on (since I didn’t have many reliable drug dealers to keep me somewhat sane). The virtue of being patient now in recovery tends to keep me content. I can be OK with myself for weeks or months, sometimes I forget the time that passes, but there are also times where I lose myself. I feel jealousy is the main offender. Jealousy of others in recovery and outside of the program can swindle the way I feel about myself and cause great feelings of complacency. I lose gratitude and gain anger when I think or believe I should be further along in my recovery. When complacency arises, I believe it’s one of the toughest and most difficult times to pull out of. Harboring these beliefs about myself doesn’t fix anything. In fact, it’s the same as kicking and crying like in my active addiction. I know that these times of impatience tend to blow over but allowing myself the “time” eventually restores my patience. Within this “time” comes the help of my support group. They tend to reflect back to me like how a mirror would and I can see and feel the discomfort that I’ve caused. So yes, patience to me is a lesson to learn for the sake of moving forward in my sobriety.
Time flies. Time waits for no man. Time heals all wounds. All any of us wants is more time. Time to stand up. Time to grow up. Time to let go. Time. Time is a strange thing. When you're waiting for something to happen, it can feel like time is dragging on. But when you want it to slow down, it goes by in the blink of an eye. Patience has never been my strong suit. In active addiction I was always waiting for something – waiting for the drug dealer, waiting for the next shot, waiting for my next paycheck, waiting to feel better. And in early recovery, I’ve noticed my patience hasn’t improved as much as I’d have hoped. It doesn’t help that the things I’m waiting for and working towards now are much more substantial than a sack of dope. Waiting for the grief after the loss of my boyfriend to subside, waiting to see if the company I started will be successful, waiting to figure out what my living situation will be. Can I make it on my own, or will I have to move in with my parents as a new mom myself?
I think for anyone, addict or not, at times it feels like the waiting can kill you. You make a decision and then the world has to turn. The consequences unfold, out of your hands. There’s only one thing that seems clear in those quiet moments while you wait: whatever you chose, was wrong. We just want to survive the storm. We pray, please God, just get me to the other side. We never imagine what it will be like when we get there. What if, when the storm passes, nothing’s left? I always said I could handle anything. I was wrong. I was wrong about a lot of things. Sometimes the whole world seems upside down. And then somehow, improbably, and when you least expect it, the whole world rights itself again. All I can do now is continue doing the right thing, and patiently wait and pray that my world turns back to something resembling right side up again.
I spend a lot of time worrying about the future, planning for the future, trying to predict the future – as if figuring it out will cushion the blow. But the future is always changing. The future is the home to my deepest fears and wildest hopes. But one thing is certain, when it finally reveals itself, the future is never the way I imagined it.
True intimacy is important if you want authentic relationships. I honestly don’t have too many intimate relationships right now but I am working on it. Barriers to intimacy are feelings of jealousy, pride, anger, shame, and fear and lack of trust in others. It’s important to have trust and transparency in relationships. Being truly intimate with someone means talking boldly and honestly, whether good or bad. In the past, my pride made it difficult for me to receive constructive feedback without taking offense. I’m realizing now that constructive criticism from true friends is not meant to hurt me, rather it’s meant to help me grow and improve myself.
Unfortunately, I’ve been a surface person most of my life, never going very deep in my relationships. I used to feel that it was easier to have relationships without intimacy. However, every surface relationship ended shortly after it began, as I became easily bored and disinterested. I know that if I truly become intimate with another person, there’s the huge risk that I could be abandoned and hurt which is terrifying to me. But, in the long run, the potential benefits of a truly intimate relationship far outweigh the risk in that I would gain more long-lasting friendships that help me grow into the authentic man I aspire to be. In order for me to become more intimate, I need to break my habit of superficiality and start being courageous in sharing my true feelings.
Intimacy and attachment are one of our greatest desires yet abandonment and rejection our greatest fears. Resentments and insecurities have interfered with many of the relationships I've had throughout you my life. Though I feel like I have had moments of intimacy, most of my relationships have not been truly authentic. I have developed unhealthy patterns to push the ones I love and care for most, away. If we are not intimate with anyone then the only obligation we have is to ourselves. Without intimacy, there is no accountability. Without accountability, an alcoholic or drug addict is doomed to repeat the same destructive behavior. I want to be close to my family and friends and to those who care about me. I do not want my life to be controlled by fear and anger. I am learning to let go of my selfish motives and to place my faith in God. I am learning that my inability to have intimate relationships is often the direct result of my actions. It is important for me to promptly admit when I am in the wrong and to make amends from all the wreckage of my past. I know that in time, I will be able to maintain these close relationships that I have always wanted.
I never really allowed myself to be close with that many people. It seemed I was only really intimate with those who accepted my beliefs, behaviors, actions, I guess just my life-style. I went with the wrong crowd and I was comfortable with that. It’s a very real feeling of intimacy even though that feeling was based off drugs. Although, time will tell when dealing with other addicts that I called friends, that their intimacy roots only with the drugs before anything or anyone else. I’ve known the false reality for years and with some time clean I can say it has kept me from knowing what true intimacy could feel like. Now I’ve allowed myself to be close to those who genuinely care about my wellbeing. They are supportive, caring, truthful people I call my friends and family. I’ve become close with them and in return they’ve helped transform me into the person I am today, and I only hope to give back whats been given to me.
Intimacy is a four syllable word for 'take my heart and my soul, please don’t grind them into hamburger meat.' Intimacy is both feared and desired, difficult to live with and impossible to live without. It’s a skill we cultivate starting with our relationship with ourselves and expands out to those we love.
I believe that intimacy is about sharing our depths — our vulnerability, needs, and dreams. But as an addict accustomed to a life of isolation, secrecy, and distancing myself from others, learning how to rebuild intimate relationships with those around me has been difficult and uncomfortable. Something I’ve come to realize at South Orange County Detox & Treatment is that I can choose to live a shallow life or a life of depth. In a shallow life I avoid intimacy – I don’t share my needs, listen to my desires, or learn from my experiences. I stay on the surface, just trying to get by without being hurt or uncomfortable. But when I’m willing to dive into my fears, go beneath the familiar, and challenge myself, I discover we are all complicated, unique, and fragile ecosystems.
Humans crave intimacy. We crave closeness and rapport with the people closest to us. But intimacy is also scary and raw. So while our souls yearn for intimate connection with others, we are often fearful of intimacy – terrified of being vulnerable, armored against the pain of rejection, and fixated on not getting hurt. No wonder we often stay on the surface of the ocean in our little safety boats well padded with our life vests of protection.
We’re all so incredibly simple: we want to be loved. We want to receive love. And we want to be seen. Essentially, when it comes down to it, all we really want is to be close to somebody. So this thing where we all keep our distance and pretend not to care is usually a lie. We pick and choose who we want to remain close to, and once we’ve chosen those people, we tend to stick close by. No matter how much we hurt each other. The people that are still with you at the end of the day are the ones worth keeping. And sure, sometimes close can be too close. But sometimes, that invasion of personal space, it can be exactly what you need.
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.