My addiction gracefully led me down many roads. More often than not, I found myself in complete isolation and I reveled in the chaos ruling my thoughts. When the noise became intolerable, I’d be sure to hang out with the “trainwrecks”. A sick satisfaction and justification came with hearing the stories of the people, I felt, were far worse off than I was. I met a multitude of less than favorable people along the way. The juxtaposition, between the people I surrounded myself within active addiction versus the people I gravitate towards today, is uncanny. I’d love to blame my addiction, but the truth is I chose to live as the perfect chameleon. I would adjust my shade based on my environment to reap the most profitable benefits… or so I thought.
While dancing with opiates, I was the girl (I thought) I always wanted to be. I was confident, untouchable, outspoken, risky, self-serving, adaptive, and spontaneous. Looking back, my ideal characteristics were all of the adjectives I described above. For as long as I can remember, I always displayed the innate thoughts and actions of the true alcoholic. I have always been insatiable, and I always wanted to be someone or somewhere else. “Comparison is the thief of joy.” How could I possibly create intimate or even meaningful relationships with anyone when I was always positioning myself to be less/better than?
Socializing, for me in active addiction, was centered around drinking/drugging. I’m sure you can only imagine what that looked like. I prided myself on being the life of the party. I was the first to dance, the last to leave, and I never failed to make a fool of myself. I thought I was playing the part, but I couldn’t have been more delusional. I vividly remember this one time, my friends and I decided to go out to the bars in Atlanta and I made a complete fool of myself. I never understood the idea of going out without getting completely wasted. At the time, I was still indulging in opiates as well and the combination was a beautiful disaster. I remember taking shots of vodka and chasing them with pineapple juice when my designated driver said, “Tricia slow down, it’s not even 7 pm.” I scoffed and continued chugging. We got to dinner and one drink turned into seven, I was stumbling out of the restaurant and it was only 10 pm. I was the perfect hype-girl, encouraging everyone to drink more. We finally made it to the bars and I was hopping on top of the bar to drink and dance with the best of the lovely bar patrons. Anyone that knew me back then, knew I never turned down a free shot. My boyfriend, at the time, was mortified at the fact that I was carrying myself as the single “girls gone wild” poster child. The rest of the night is a blur. I woke up the next morning with no recollection of what had gone on the night before. Unbeknownst to me, I was officially single after punching my ex in the face and giving him a black eye and embarrassing all of my friends. The instant regret, guilt, and shame would quickly leave as I woke up and indulged in my vices.
This pattern continued to be the theme for my interactions with everyone. I never understood why they could stop and I couldn’t. I made myself the perfect victim, striking the match and crying when my relationships went up in flames. Isolation became my reprieve. I drove everyone I loved out of my life. I began to make new associates that favored the same poisons I did. Those relationships were shallow and self-serving on both sides. The only depth I found, during this time period, awaited me in the trenches of my addiction. I hit many bottoms, during my use, but not one compared to the emotional bottom I hit after my last drink. No pain will ever compare to the pain of utter loneliness and isolation. I was left to my own devices and I finally had enough pain.
When I was first introduced to recovery, I was convinced I was the newest member of a hoaky cult. The joy that radiated from the sober people I met made me nauseous. Surely these people were drinking the kool-aid. Their willingness to help me came without conditions and I was sure I was missing the fine print. After all of the unimaginable things I had done, why would anyone want to help me? I was so blinded by unrelenting guilt that I refused to accept the validation I so desperately sought after. I defiantly refused to accept the fact that I was just like them. We shared a common bond, out from the trenches of addiction, rooted in pain, and covered by grace.
Coming from a place of complete mistrust of other women, due to my lack of self-love and deep resentments, I gravitated towards the boys constantly seeking validation and running on empty. It wasn’t until I started connecting with strong women, that I got a taste of recovery and the promises started to come true. I began finding women that had common goals, responsibilities and displayed the characteristics of the woman I desperately wanted to be. There are days when I have zero desire to get out of bed, much less make a meeting, and keeping my commitments to these women is no longer an option for me. I have seen members of the fellowship offer help, without hesitation, to other members looking to find a job, housing, legal aid, and support. Through the 12 Steps, there’s an intimate vulnerability required. The kind of vulnerability that requires the addict to divulge their deepest darkest secrets with another addict. An undeniable spiritual experience occurs during the process and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. The outpour of love and support is nothing short of miraculous. Fellow addicts can sit in a room rehashing incomprehensible pain and embarrassing stories and laugh together, only to grow closer after leaving the meeting.
I don’t have many demoralizing stories to share these days, but I do have a slew of miraculous stories to share. My family calls me for advice, I have friends that babysit my kids, so I can make a meeting, I work for a company that doesn’t have to check over my work, and the list goes on. Today, I am surrounded by unconditional love. Naturally, the grace, compassion, and loyalty these women shared with me restored my faith in real friendships with other women. When I come across challenges and I feel discouraged, these women literally carry me when I cannot carry myself. There’s a secret society made up of the world’s “throwaways”, stepping out in love and successfully overcoming seemingly fatal adversity. Laying down age-old resentments, making amends to family/friends we’ve hurt, growing spiritually, and dying to ourselves daily to help the next struggling addict…is the remedy for any spiritual malady. Humanity, as a whole, would certainly benefit from the process we trudge in recovery. Today, I live a life I never would have imagined. I’m comfortable in my own skin, I gravitate towards intimate interpersonal relationships. From pain to pleasure, I get the opportunity to be the woman, mother, daughter, and friend I aspire to be.