Lorelie Rozzano is a guest blogger for Vertava Health.
Beautiful People Grow Out Of Broken Places – Recovering From Addiction.
There’s a certain rhythm to life. A mapping out, if you will. You’re born, you learn to crawl and then walk. You enter elementary school, high school and then you graduate. Some go on to college or university. You get a job or many jobs. And somewhere along the way, you fall in love. You get married or shack up. You buy your first house. You plan a family. You have children who learn to crawl and then walk, and so on. This incredible journey is another name for the circle of life. And while our lives don’t always look like this, you get the picture.
But what happens when life throws you a curve ball? A curve ball so menacing that it can wipe out your personal health, bank account, and entire family. It can take down doctors, lawyers, police officers, teachers, moms and dads. It’s killing our children at an alarming rate and is powerful enough to change the human psyche. It is stronger than love and the will to survive.
This curveball is addiction.
Addiction is a chronic and progressive brain disease that can be terminal in nature. One in seven will struggle with it. If you’re reading this chances are you’re one of the seven, or love someone who is. People who aren’t prone to this disease will experiment with drugs and alcohol and for the most part, move on. But when you’re predisposed to addiction, you don’t move on. You embrace your drug of choice and build a lifestyle around it. Instead of maturing and learning how to solve problems through hard work and communication, you learn avoidance by getting high.
I was 14 when I first picked up. I didn’t understand then, that drugs and alcohol lessened my feelings of inferiority. I was just having ‘fun.’ As my usage progressed, I stopped developing in other critical areas of my life. I never reached emotional maturity. Lacking a healthy relationship with my feelings, I arrested at the age of 14. When I felt anxious, I used. When I felt insecure, I used. When I felt good, I used. When I was hurting emotionally, I used. Just to feel normal, I used.
As my physical body aged, my cognitive, emotional and psychological body, remained that of a child. On the inside, I was a scared little girl, but on the outside, I functioned as an adult. Without boundaries, I struggled in all my relationships. Getting clean and sober didn’t lessen those struggles. I was still a scared 14-year-old, hiding in a woman’s body. Sober, I was fearful and anxious. I was told my feelings wouldn’t kill me. But it sure felt like they would. When you’ve spent a good portion of your life numb, the thaw out is messy.
If you’ve ever watched Steve Martin in the movie The Jerk, you might recall the scene where is he trying to dance. The people around him dance gracefully. They’re smooth and in rhythm. But not Steve. Steve jerks and flails. I resembled Steve when I first got clean. All the things people seemed to do with ease – socializing, working, raising kids, running a household – overwhelmed me. Making the smallest decision was agonizing.
But it was in my family relationships that I struggled most. My love came off as controlling and intrusive. I struggled with intimacy. It was easier for me to open up with a room full of strangers in a 12 step meeting than it was to open up with the people I loved. Raising my children sober, was especially challenging. I learned my parenting skills in the alcoholic home I was raised in. I was a rigid parent. In rehab, I learned structure. Living a structured lifestyle is crucial when recovering from addiction. But it is also just as necessary to learn healthy play. I was not a relaxed parent. I hoped my kids could read between my commands. I loved them dearly but struggled with showing it.
Luckily I found people who were just like me. People who could relate to me and laugh about it. I wasn’t the only one who felt awkward, sober. These folks had also jerked and flailed. The most inspirational words I heard in those early days of recovery were, ‘me too.’ I was not alone. People got me. Better yet, I was starting to get me.
I look back on those days with a grin. When you’ve had one foot in the grave and lived to tell about it, life is very sweet. If you’re new to recovery, surround yourself with safe, supportive people. People who will walk with you through these strange and new beginnings. There will be much that is asked of you. Work hard. Build the life you always deserved. Focus, dedication, determination and discipline, equals success. Put the same effort into getting clean as you did into getting high. Live with integrity, and in gratitude. There will be days that you jerk and flail, but that’s part of the journey. As you step into your personal best, you will come to learn… beautiful people grow out of broken places.
If you or someone you know needs help, please call this confidential support line for assistance. 1-888-614-2379.