By O. RMarv | Personal Narrative Contributor
When I came into the rooms of recovery, I was simply looking for a way to stop the insanity of having to drink and use even when I didn’t want to.
All I cared about was staying alive, which was not a guarantee for me, given the rate of drinking and using I was doing on a daily basis.
I was a train wreck – if my existence was a class called LIFE 101, I had definitely flunked it.
Hell, I didn’t even show up for the final exam.
I was lost, broken, afraid, and angry.
Luckily, I had managed to make it back after yet another “secretive” relapse where I had played out my one last final theory of how I was going to drink and use “like a gentleman.”
Spoiler alert that final theory didn’t work so well.
I knew I was licked and if I wanted to ever make it to my 30’s, live a life I could be proud of, or simply avoid a life behind bars; I needed to drop my ego, get honest, and work the damn steps of the 12 step fellowships of my choice.
I didn’t know what the result would be if I did those things – but the fear of change no longer outweighed the fear of pain so I was finally willing.
I had bounced in and out of the rooms for some time – well let me clarify – my SOBRIETY bounced in and out of the rooms – I stayed; but I took “dirty” tokens, worked “dirty” steps, and held “dirty” commitments.
Anyways, when I saw someone had truly “gotten it” there would be that glimmer in their eyes, an obnoxiously frequent chuckle, and a sense of ease about them that I could never find unless I was totally loaded beyond approach.
“How the hell can they be so free to be themselves?” I would wonder in disgust.
Having those same qualities seemed like such a far away goal for me – all I wanted to do was be able to fall asleep without having to drug myself into a stupor and pass out.
Fortunately, I finally found my GOD in 2013 – the “Gift Of Desperation” – I was finally able to do all the things I knew I needed to do to save my sanity and my life.
I quit my job, moved all my possessions into storage, went to treatment for 4 months where I got honest, and I actually worked on myself for the first time.
I finally had the courage to face my core issues.
Once I transitioned out of treatment I worked all 12 steps; I got into the solution instead of wallowing in the problem.
Slowly but surely, I started to feel a little bit better about myself.
Slowly but surely, my sense of self-hatred and loathing started to ease up.
Slowly but surely, my need of validation from others started to disappear.
Slowly but surely, I was recovering and I didn’t even know it.
Slowly but surely, I was given a gift I don’t think I ever possessed, even as a child – the gift of self-worth.
It’s so clear to me now how not having any sense of an identity or value even from a young age plagued me my entire life and led me down the path towards active addiction.
My self-worth was based on what other people thought of me so I was doomed to a life of seeking attention to feel good about myself.
I didn’t care if it was positive attention or negative attention – I just wanted you to notice my existence.
Thus came a pattern of changing what my identity was based on every few years – as a child my identity was based on positive things, but things quickly changed in my teenage years and my identity turned to be dark and negative as my self-loathing started to consume me.
My lack of self-worth led me to a life of self-sabotage because intrinsically I wouldn’t allow myself to have anything nice.
In my core and my unconscious, I didn’t feel I deserved anything positive so I wouldn’t allow myself the joy or success that I should have experienced.
I was like that farmer at the market with his apples for sale.
I would set my apple cart up oh so nice – each apple individually polished, each blemish hidden, forming a perfect pyramid that was sure to attract countless customers.
I would finish all my hard work, step back, admire it….then kick the wheels out from underneath it, sending my apples flying!
I couldn’t explain why I would do this – but every few years I would kick the wheels out from beneath me and my life.
My low self-worth would re-surface time and time again – yet I would fail to recognize what was going on.
No, I embraced all of my self-sabotage because I got to feel like a victim.
Feeling like a victim would allow me to sit in self-pity, allow me to feel sorry for myself, then allow me to feel entitled to do whatever I needed to do to make myself feel better (more often than not continue my self-sabotage with drugs and alcohol).
It was a vicious cycle.
Well as I mentioned before, as a result of surrendering to my addictions, as a result of working the 12 steps, as a result of having a spiritual awakening, I was given a sense of self-worth.
That gift – and for me it is a gift – has completely changed my life.
I allow myself to have positive things in my life today, I allow myself to have a unique sense of identity not contingent on something or someone, I allow myself to not be constantly seeking validation from others.
I didn’t know I was going to be given self-worth when I returned to the 12 step fellowships I choose to attend.
I should have known after seeing countless miracles with people achieving TRUE recovery, but I was blind to the idea of it ever happening for me.
Now, it wasn’t like I just woke up one day and BOOM! my self-worth suddenly appeared.
No, it was a process in which my esteem-able acts and work of the 12 steps started to add up.
Slowly but surely, it developed and continues to develop, so long as I am spiritually fit and making my recovery a priority in my life.
Slowly but surely, I am started to accomplish things I never once thought I would ever do as I no longer self-sabotage.
Slowly but surely, I am living that life I can be proud of as I no longer need validation from others.
Slowly but surely, my gift of self-worth allows me to avoid toxicity in my life.
Slowly but surely…I am recovering.