“When we talk about our recovery, we should also speak of the two H’s, essential for promoting emotional wellness and greater happiness. One is hope, and the other is help. It doesn’t matter what order they come in. We just need to know that hope can lead to help, and that help can lead to hope. And together they can bring us the desired outcome.”
“I’m not sure if love is all around me all the time. But I know when I look for it within myself—love is there. It may not be realistic to believe we can love everyone. But I know that as long as I maintain the self-love that I worked so hard to have. The love I try to show others will always materialize and be there for anyone who needs it.”
Some people don’t like using the word “sick” when describing someone with an addiction. I get it. Just like the words alcoholic and addict, saying someone is sick can add to the shame and stigma associated with addiction, and prevent a person from getting the help they need.
But was I sick? Yes.
Although I didn’t drink every day and I seemed to be doing well in life, I wasn’t. I had fears and insecurities, not of the normal variety, that made me emotionally sick.
As a result, I was overly jealous of people and an extremely jealous husband. I felt like I needed to prove myself at almost every turn—believing deep down that I didn’t stack up to others. And I tried to be something I wasn’t, often acting out in arrogant and egotistical ways, in an attempt to feel better about myself.
I was also spiritually sick.
I should have been a better person than I was. A better friend. A more loving husband. And certainly a more loving and caring father.
Not that I was a bad person. I tried not to do things that I knew I shouldn’t, and I actually did some good things in my drinking days. But I just couldn’t sustain a better way of living. Sooner or later my fears would overwhelm me. My insecurities would become too great. And I would turn to the only thing that I thought could help me with how I was feeling. Even when riddled with guilt, I could not stop drinking for a long period of time, and I would return to the behaviors that actually made me feel worse about myself.
Eventually I got help and began living a different way, but I was still emotionally and spiritually sick in the beginning. But as I remained sober, my brain healed. And as I kept trying to be a better person than I was before, I was no longer sick.
I had changed the things about myself that needed to be changed. The thoughts and behaviors that didn’t make me a bad person, but along with my drinking, kept me emotionally and spiritually “sick” and prevented me from becoming the person I always wanted to be.
There were times early in my sobriety when it felt like I was barely holding onto my sanity and I wasn’t sure what to do. I was never very good at facing emotional pain or figuring out why I had it. But thankfully I did hold on.
I needed help from others with these struggles. And it was hard for me to believe in more than just this world on some days. But the result was worth the effort.
I learned that part of becoming a stronger person is to never be afraid to ask for help. And I eventually saw that it was better to try to believe in something than it was to believe in nothing. I also found an inner strength that I didn’t know I had, and peace of mind that I didn’t think possible.
Today I know everything’s going to be all right, even when it’s not. Because I know that I can be all right even when I’m not.
“The street-addict is like the rats in the first cage, isolated, alone, with only one source of solace to turn to.”
The above quote is from this article written a few years ago about a Ted Talk author who, while also trying to sell a book at the time, was professing that the likely cause of addiction has been discovered, and it’s just simply loneliness and an unhappy environment.
I disagree in calling someone a “street-addict, or addict really. But I do agree that loneliness and an unhappy environment can contribute to drug use. It’s true that people can feel isolated and alone from their childhood into their adult life, I know I certainly did, but that doesn’t mean everyone who develops an addiction feels that way.
Many people who develop a substance use disorder have friends. Successful business men and women, school teachers or other professional types, and loving parents come to mind. People who also seem happy in their surroundings or living conditions, but sadly, may not be happy with themselves.
They appear to be all right to others, but fears and insecurities, ones they’ve denied and kept hidden from the outside world continue to reside inside them. They often don’t feel good about themselves despite any successes they have in life, and although they go about acting as if they’re happy, most know different. The same drug that made them feel better about themselves fails them, and this is when they can began feeling isolated and alone.
After I stopped drinking I found friends in Alcoholics Anonymous, but other than having occasional lunches with some of them, I didn’t hang around with anyone long enough to form a true friendship.
I’ve now been sober for over 21 years and I stopped going to meetings several years ago. I’m also a self-professed loner, (although being married and having a best friend in my wife isn’t really being alone) who admittedly does have a few close friends, but I don’t really do much with any of them.
My point is that I drank and hung around with more people than I call a friend today and had some type of connection with them, yet I have no desire to start drinking again.
Personal growth, self-confidence, and self-love are all factors in being happy with who we are, and it doesn’t matter if we have a lot of friends or not.
These things allow us to love and help others, and that along with an environment that we have improved on can be enough to help us remain sober.
“I consider my smile to be an accessory to my wardrobe.
I sometimes get unfriendly looks back from people I smile at, but I try not to let it bother me or stop me from wearing a smile for all to see.
As an older man with a daughter, I will say that smiling at a young lady with a near naked appearance can make me feel a bit uncomfortable. But that’s just dad talk.
In truth. Displays of anger and hatred trouble me far more than how a person dresses. And one of the simplest ways to help negate those things is to add a smile to our face no matter what we’re wearing.”
Although the opioid epidemic needs to remain at the forefront in our efforts to help those addicted. (The death rate from overdoses continue to rise.) We should not forget the problems many people face due to excessive use of alcohol. A substance that robbed me of many things, including my happiness, until I got help over 21 years ago. I can’t truthfully say that I may have died. I didn’t drink every day and I still had my health. But I can say I was dying emotionally and spiritually.”