Last night I was driving home from a long day and my mind was wondering. I traveled back to a time where misery filled my being and hope was no where to be found. I started thinking about how much my life has changed since I got sober and my body became light and I was overcome with this intense feeling of gratitude. I feel grateful everyday for how many things have changed for the better but this was different. This was overwhelming to the point where I was smiling uncontrollably while tears were running down my face simultaneously. It all was consuming and it was beautiful.
I tend to focus on the changes in my life that have occurred since I sobered up from my 2 years of heavy substance use but the truth is my pain started long before that. Drinking was the solution to escape from so much existing pain.
I remember as a kid asking God “why me?” for so many reasons. I believed that if there was a God he hated me because why would anyone give someone this life if they loved them? Why would anyone let these terrible things happen if they were watching over them? It just never made sense to me.
I grew up in a chaotic environment. My parents divorced left me in a stable home half the time and I marinated in mental illness and alcoholism at the other house hold . Violence, screaming, hatred, fighting, bruises, blood, and fear were normal to me. I never felt safe even when the storm would pass because I knew the insanity would return sooner or later. I didn’t even know what serenity felt like until I was 20 years old.
My whole world, my whole existence was shattered from the very beginning. A lot of it had to do with my uncontrollable circumstances but some of it had to do with my skewed perception of life and the world. Things were never okay for me even when they should have been.
When I was 14 years old any ounce of hope I ever had was stolen from me. For months I was courted with fancy dinners, elaborate gifts, and the most beautiful love letters one could ever read by a 17 year old who had me smitten. My young self fell in love for the first time and I thought I had found the answer to all of my pain. I believed I was safe from the chaos. But what I thought was love but not love at all. When I felt like I could finally begin to breath, this prince charming raped me. Everything changed that day.
I think that really was the first time that the pain I felt was so unbearable I knew I had to find some way to escape. I tried everything–literally everything to try and escape the feeling of uselessness and worthlessness. Self-destruction became apart of my identity and I had no idea how I was ever going to get the salt out of this gashing wound.
I remember having so much rage within me that it was scary. To be so angry with a person, with the world, with yourself is now beyond my comprehension yet it’s how I lived the majority of my life. It’s hard to relate unless you’ve been there but truly wanting to die is something I felt regularly. When I found substance to quiet the pain, I came to accept that this was how I was going to survive life. Not live life, but survive it.
The day I decided to get sober was the morning after I drank more than I ever had before. I was so hung over by the poison that I could barely get up to go to the bathroom. Once I got there, I glanced at myself in the mirror and the girl I saw looked dead. I practically was. I started to cry and something happened to me that had never happened before. There was this voice in my head softly whispering “No more. Something has to change” In that moment I knew I had to get sober or I was going to die. For some reason, for the first time, I didn’t want to die. I wanted to get better.
Today when I ask God “why me?” it’s with different intent. I ask God “why me?” in complete and utter gratitude because I really don’t understand how it is possible for my life to be as beautiful as it is today. I never thought that the rage would ever go away or the need to escape would vanish and that I could go through life every day feeling good about who I am. I never imagined having compassion for those who have hurt me or forgiving them and praying that even the worst monsters from my past find their peace. I don’t understand why I received the gift of sobriety–physically, emotionally, and spiritually but I am humbled by this journey. I believe it was no accident that I got sober before I turned 21 years old because I know I would be dead if I had continued feeding my alcoholism it’s poison.
Not only has sobriety kept me from an inevitable alcoholic death, it’s allowed to face the most excruciating events of my past. I’ve been able to rip off all of the band-aids I so foolishly thought could heal the open wounds and now I can gently go through the process of healing and appreciate the scars that are left behind.
I don’t regret my past nor wish to shut the door on it. I am who I am because of what I’ve been through. My damage is now my blessing because it’s given me my ultimate purpose in life and that is to help others. I went through what I went through so that I could sit here today in gratitude for the beauty of my heart simply beating. I am alive and I am actually living.
I know that there are many out there that don’t feel the way I do today and probably feel that what I am saying is completely impossible to achieve. I’m here to tell you that it is possible. There is so much beauty in life even through all of the fucked up pain. So to those who have not found their serenity; their peace, I pray that someday you do. Or that you at least you find the hope that it’s within you because I promise you it is.