This world can feel like a dark place.
We get to live in this world, but we do not have to be “of this world.” Meaning, just because everyone else, it seems, is running by the seat of their pants, finding the next high and way to be fulfilled externally, it doesn’t mean that we have to.
I have learned over time to be the minority. I have learned to walk my own path and to create in my life things that bring me a semblance of peace and serenity, not an alter ego of death and destruction.
My life up until now has been pretty fast moving. I ran and ran trying to find the next big thing that would bring me satisfaction and contentment.
My life was all about me. I, too, love adrenaline, excitement, a good sale, delicious food, getting tipsy, and a good high from a substance or intoxication.
For the last 22 years, I have lived abstinent from drugs and alcohol. For the last three, I have been, for the most part, caffeine free. I have given up meat and dairy and cane sugar. I have learned to live without high highs, but I’ve still had my share of low lows.
I was a cocaine and meth addict. I liked to party. I rode on a Harley and even have my own motorcycle license. I like speed. I was doing hallucinogens as an early teen, and could drink anyone under the table. I smoked cigarettes, I had multiple partners at once. I loved the rush and exhilaration of being a “party girl.”
Lord knows, I would have kept going. If it wasn’t for those blue lights behind me exactly 23 years ago this month, I would have—until something bigger stopped me.
I swore I would never be like the generations before me, living in an alcoholic haze with abuse and darkness—a life that revolved around their next drink and smoke. They coped with life by self-medicating, and when I told loved ones I was worried about my drinking, they said, “Everyone is depressed Melissa. Everyone drinks; it’s just how life is.”
I asked, “What if I can’t stop? What if I get addicted?”
“Awe, don’t worry about that, Melissa. Anyone can stop whenever they want.” As they continued to be pulled in by their own demons, and lived in a fear-based existence.
My life finally had to be let go of. I was suicidal and hated the chase of the next high. It was only in the moments leading up to my next drink or drug that I felt the anticipation and excitement. Once my high wore off, I felt gross and miserable once again.
The next day, my problems, worries, stresses, and self-demoralization were still present and usually greater than the night previous. I had to go back and relive the events of the night before—things I had done (from what I could remember), and piece them together.
When I felt brave, and enough time had passed, I would call a friend to ask what had happened, and then the wall of shame would hit me thick as ever, recalling what she said to be true, or not being able to believe I could do such a thing and having no recollection.
The walk of shame is real for an alcoholic and drug addict. Morals, values, and ethics go out the window when faced with that next hit.
There is a solution to the running and gunning. There is a peace to be found in hanging up addictive tendencies and submitting to a life of sobriety. It does sound boring, doesn’t it? Life without spending time and money finding that next high? Not thinking and obsessing about what type of alcohol you’re going to drink and what type of hook up you may need to obtain.
I was always worried about someone finding my pipe, and even walked into a courthouse with a pipe in my bag, just remembering before I hit the metal detector. Driving intoxicated and with paraphernalia, waiting to be busted. Crawling on my hands and knees looking for white powder, sh*tting, and throwing up blood. The life of an addict couldn’t be less peaceful.
Something shifted in me after I got busted. I had to surrender. I had to do the victim’s panel (listening to others tell stories of how their family members had been killed by a drunk driver).
I was court ordered to Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings, where I heard myself in all of these middle-aged men. Their stories were my stories, and my tough bravado started to deteriorate.
I was in pain. I was full of anger and hatred. I was in fight-or-flight 24/7. The only relief I got was when high or intoxicated. I had no connection to anyone; it was all about me and my next fix.
Staying sober is not easy. They say it’s the easier, softer way compared to our life as addicts and alcoholics, and I finally believe that to be true.
When I was five years sober, I went to an inpatient facility for 21 days, leaving my three-year-old baby at home because I had lost my mind.
When I got my six-year coin, I was bawling, feeling alone, and still partially suicidal.
But I still showed up and shared my experience and stayed sober. Maybe even helped someone. I’d never felt so alone.
Time after time, I just showed up. I shared my experience, strength, and hope as they say in AA, and didn’t pick up a drink or drug—one day at a time.
None of my friends joined me on this journey, but the cool thing is that years later, they have almost all come to be sober and live a life of abstinence as well.
I come from a long line of people who have all struggled with their own demons. Their quality of life was not optimal, and their peace was nonexistent.
I strive to live a life of peace. I strive to be introspective. I strive to take care of my health (mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional). I try to be a good human and look outside of myself.
I risk being vulnerable, sharing both my negative and positive experiences. I work to be a loving mother and wife. I value myself and my interactions with others. I take pride in my work. I see where I can be of benefit or help to others. I can see beyond myself for once.
I look up and surrender my ego, selfishness, and self-centeredness daily—a common trait of alcoholics and addicts.
I try to cultivate a sense of calm in my interactions with others. I seek wisdom. I learn from others that have walked before me.
I don’t have to pretend to know it all anymore; I know that it is okay to ask for help. I live a life with less strength than ever before. I am able to go with the flow and accept changes as they come.
And over time, my “worst day” sober has become better than my “best day” drinking and using.