Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
6 Things My Addiction Taught Me.
Yesterday I celebrated my 19th birthday, clean and sober. I’m lucky. Many of my brothers and sisters don’t make it out alive. Addiction can be a death sentence. But it can also be an amazing gift. When I walked through the doors of rehab May 30th 1997 I had no idea my life would be this incredible. In fact, I thought my life was over – the fun part, anyway. It’s really pathetic, looking back, how I equated fun to getting wasted and hurting the people who love me. I had no idea how sick I was. That may be the scariest part of all. Addiction is like being brain injured. I was combative, illogical, paranoid and delusional. And I wasn’t alone. Other addicts suffer with these behaviors too. Luckily when we get clean and sober, we make those much needed amends. Recovering from addiction is a process. Below are six things I learned.
Feeling your feelings won’t kill you.
– By the time you figure out you’re addicted, your life is a complete mess. You might have been fired from your job, or have a DUI (or other criminal charges) your relationships are in ruins, you’re broke, and you’re doing things – you said you’d never do. Unless you’re wasted, you feel depressed and anxious all the time. You can’t meet your eyes in the mirror. You don’t want to live this way, but you’re too scared to stop. You reach out for help, or are intervened upon, and find yourself in a rehab facility. Everything is strange. As if plucked from the freezer, you begin to thaw out. The process is overwhelming. Hurt, hurts. Embarrassment is hot and uncomfortable. Shame is toxic, but shrinks when exposed to the light. You realize that even though your feelings aren’t always comfortable, sharing them is healing and they won’t kill you.
The new you is awesome!
You become a morning person. You’re eager to meet the day and all the exciting possibilities it will bring. You don’t flinch when you look in the mirror. Your eyes shine with life. Even your hair is shinier. You see, hear and feel better. You have more energy and laugh more. Without the heavy burden of shame, you feel lighter. Your mind works so much better. The fog has lifted. You look out the window and smile. Your car is parked exactly where you left it. Recovery rocks!
Gratitude prevents self-pity and relapse.
The practice of gratitude is a huge part of my daily routine. I give thanks upon wakening and when I go to bed. Giving thanks is more than a reminder of where I’ve been, it also produces happy cells. It helps me focus on all that is good, rather than ruminating on what isn’t. Gratitude gives you a positive outlook on life. You’re more fun to be around. People are drawn to you. Gratitude is the antidote to self-pity and results in a state of peaceful happiness.
You can’t control what other people think, say or do
– but you can control what you think, say and do. Just because you’ve changed, doesn’t mean everyone else has. People will still be rude and say hurtful things. You won’t have a cheerleader in every corner. Don’t expect everything to be peachy just because you’re sober. If you find yourself reacting to a person/place/thing – use your tools. (Tools: healthy coping skills and the ability to identify your character defects and adjust accordingly) Although you can’t change others, you can change the way you interact with them.
Giving back helps you as much as it helps others.
I am not cured. I still slide back into my old ways. If I don’t use my tools regularly, the slide happens fast. A warning sign for me is focusing too much on self. Getting caught up in me, me, me – is my definition of hell. A way to counteract this, is to give back. Take the time to help others. Listen and share what works for you. Let someone in line behind you, go ahead of you. Do random acts of kindness. The next time you disagree, be the bigger person. You don’t always have to be right or prove a point. Helping others takes your mind off yourself and your troubles. You may also realize through the process that your problems aren’t nearly as big as you made them out to be.
You are not a victim.
No matter what happened in the past, it’s over. As an adult you play a role in everything you do. If you’re feeling victimized chances are you’ve taken a short cut. Are you asking for what you need? Or do you just expect people to know what you want? It’s important to note that expectations lead to resentment. Resentment leads to relapse. And relapse leads to death. When I’m feeling resentful I ask myself this question, “What’s my role in this?” If I’m honest, I have my answer.
We all struggle in life. Some more than others. Recovering from addiction taught me to face those struggles and live with integrity. Many people never discover the tools of healthy living, or how to be their best self. A simple phone call can change the entire direction of your life. If I hadn’t accepted help, I wouldn’t be living the amazing life I am today.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1 888 614-2379