I said right from the start that I was going to share openly and honestly, so I feel like I need to honor this and share what I am going through. Yesterday I received a hurtful message from someone who was a part of my past. The message has bothered me all of yesterday and today. I am trying my best not to let it affect me, but it does.
When I was in treatment they told me I had no idea what I was up against once I left. I thought they were all crazy, even delusional to say something like that. They told me that if I was really going to stay sober, then I would have to change everything. Meaning, I would need to think about the people I was surrounding myself with and I would need to think about certain people in my family that I was going to have to set boundaries with... just about everyone really. They said, “Some of the people around you aren’t going to understand what you are doing and your relationships with them won’t be the same.” I refused to believe them.
Although I completed the full-time rehab program, I actually didn’t graduate rehab. Why? Because they had recommended me to continue with extended care, to which I refused to go. So, I never got my graduation chip when I was leaving. They would usually do a little send off for the people who completed the entire program (including extended care) prior to a client’s graduation. I was not included in this because I still had a lot of work I needed to do in their eyes, which would have continued in extended care. Now I can see where they were coming from, but back then I was just pissed off.
It’s important to also note that upon completion of the full-time program, I continued to faithfully keep up my treatment requirements as an outpatient with the same facility. I made a commitment to myself that I would stay the course, with their help, and to this day I have continued to do so.
Nevertheless, one of the hardest parts about my journey of recovery is that some of the people who were the closest to me, are the ones that have hurt me the most. I know that might not be their intention, but that is how I feel. There are always two sides to every story, and I am never wanting to throw shade on anyone or speak negatively about people. However, I created this blog to talk about my journey of recovery and this particular kind of hurt is a very big part of it.
In AA meetings I’ve often heard people say the only thing they had to change was everything, so I know I’m not alone on this. And not just in the recovery community either, I feel like this happens to many in other aspects of life. For example, when someone makes a choice to make major changes in their life, there are going to be some people around them who aren’t going to like it. Why? Because you are choosing to change the way you used to always do things. Unfortunately, some people don’t like change. The don’t like the new you. They don’t understand the new you, especially when they expect you to be doing things the way you used to. But if you’re not growing, then all that is important could be dying inside of you. I had been dying for several years.
What’s difficult is knowing some people will talk about some of the stuff I am saying, not necessarily in a good way. I also know people will have their own opinions about it too. I am powerless over what people think and do, but no one knows how I felt, or what I was personally going through all those years, but me. People saw what I wanted them to see, I shared with people what I wanted them to know. The only person who could feel the spiritual void inside me, was me.
But people do worry, especially when you absolutely need to be honest with what you go through in recovery. They worry because it not only shines a light on the world I was in… by association, it shines a light on some of the people who were in it with me. I have intentionally tried to keep this part about me, specifically the circle of people I travelled with during that time, anonymous. That’s because my journey isn’t necessarily the same as their’s, and I am only shining the light onto myself.
However, I have received feedback, or negative criticism actually, coming from people in my life at the time. And… it hurts. Change is incredibly hard. It hurts to have people from my past speak so negatively regarding my efforts to recover. It feels like they try to take me down a peg, to undermine all of my efforts… and I wonder, why does it matter to them? I’m making my journey about me because I simply have to. There’s no other way. I can’t force them to see that, but neither do I expect them to berate me because of that. This is something I was warned would most likely happen. I just never actually thought it would.
Again, change is not easy. Me staying sober has not been easy either. It’s sometimes hard to see people my age going out and partying. I would be lying if I said I didn’t miss it. Every morning I get up and I make a choice not to drink for today. I can’t tell you what tomorrow looks like, but today I chose not to drink.
The lifestyle I was living has become a socially acceptable lifestyle these days. To me at least, it seems like many young people in their 20s live that way. I’m not knocking it, I just always knew in my heart I craved to be doing something else with my life. I was living that lifestyle for all the wrong reasons. But for those that do, and can still be happy in their core, then that’s OK too. I just wasn’t. So, when I was given the opportunity to change, I took it.
I have seen addiction literally destroy my family. Maybe I wasn’t injecting heroin into my arm, and hadn’t completely lost everything, but I was heading there. My addiction did not get better as the years progressed, it got worse. I got worse. So, I made the choice to change. No one else made that choice for me.
I have made the choice to write about this because it bothers me that some people who were close to me minimize what I have gone through by negative criticism. It bothers me when people minimize this type of choice. Many of the people I went through treatment with are now dead. This isn’t something that should be minimized.
Since I have made the choice to talk about how others view my recovery, particularly those who were close to me, I open myself up for even more criticism from the same people. But like I said, choosing the path of recovery is not easy. People will try to pull you down. It may not sound like a reaction one might expect but surprisingly, it happens.
To those who wish to criticize the changes I chose to make, I hope you can understand that my efforts do not, and were never meant to, reflect anything other than the lifestyle I now choose to live. I have lived in both worlds and this one is far better.
“I would rather go through life sober, believing I am an alcoholic, than go through life drunk, trying to convince myself that I am not.” -Anonymous