I’m Francis. I’m 27 years old and I am in recovery. When I first saw this site I totally fell in love with what this is about. I think that it’s really something special for all of us to show whoever may be reading that we are not hiding. Maybe it’s to enlighten or inform. Maybe it’s to help someone to identify. I can’t say what the true purpose of my submission will be. All that I know is that I used to be one of those people that were quick to judge anyone suffering from addiction regardless of knowing that I was a full-blown drug addict. I know, doesn’t make sense, right? That has to do with ego right there. I wasn’t open to this newly found knowledge until I truly surrendered, and these humbling words came out of my mouth. “I’m Francis, I’m a drug addict and I need help.” Not everyone truly understands where I was coming from. Except the people who are knowledgeable about addiction, or people who sat in that “chair.” It may be different for everyone, but in my case the chair I was sitting in when I had my moment of clarity was in rehab.
I think it is important for people to understand that the only difference between me and a normal person is that I cannot put drugs or alcohol in my body successfully. Someone may think that if this is the case my solution should be easy. All I have to do is abstain from alcohol and drugs. For me, this was a very difficult thing to do. How do I accomplish this now? I live my life by the guidelines of an anonymous program. I wasn’t introduced to the 12-steps until I was in rehab.
Today, it’s a necessity for me to live a sober life by the guidelines. I just want to make it super bold that I have no clue how to live a sober life without the 12-steps. Some people get it, some don’t. Some people cringe, and some smile. They may not understand how or why I live my life by a 12 step program. Then again, I don’t understand why some people would pay $1,200 for a pocketbook.
Before I go any further, I want make it clear that my problem wasn’t just drugs or alcohol. My problem was everything. Some people struggle with the drink. Some struggle with the drugs. I struggled with everything. So, when it comes to my sobriety and I get asked, why? “Why don’t I use drugs or alcohol anymore?” The question may be asked differently, but my answer is always the same, “I just don’t do it right. I can’t and I never could.” There came a point in my life where I developed a problem with every substance I indulged in. I knew I had a problem, and I was okay with it. The reason being is that I had no solution in my life at that time.
I used to be full of resentments, jealousy, fear, and self-pity. There were so many negative feelings that it wouldn’t be worth it to list them all. I would hide behind this shield of “I’m Okay.” Or I would over compensate for how awful I was doing. I had certain events in my life that were out of my control back then which I couldn’t overcome successfully.
To go a little deeper, while growing up I had this impending fear of my Mom dying. She was always in and out of surgeries for breast cancer. Being an only child, it was hard for me to deal with the emotions that came with it. My solution as an early teenager was to smoke weed and drink. The drugs provided temporary relief from the feelings that I had inside of me. However, I wasn’t dealing with them in any way, shape or form.
By the time I hit the age of 20, the day was near and my mom was dying. I can’t really explain how awful of a place I was in. I will just say that I was in a state of complete and utter self-destruction. I hated everyone and everything. I drank and drugged so hard just to numb the heartbreak I was going through. I was so incredibly angry and just gave up on life. I turned to snowboarding, then the bottle, then to cocaine, then to opiates and my life became completely unmanageable. That was just about the only solution that I could come up with to make the pain go away. It wasn’t that I was an evil person. It was just my way of dealing with my life at that time.
It’s a fucked up cycle to get high because of losing someone, and then to get high to deal with the guilt of getting high. I don’t know if anyone can relate to that, but that was where I was for a long time. I was squandering my inheritance and living a life with no real value. I was hurting pretty much everyone in my life that I was around. I was great at what I did for work, but could never successfully hold a job because I needed to not be sick to go to work. Some days that wasn’t always achievable.
Some weeks I wouldn’t go home because I chose to sleep in a car or a couch or a tent. I did whatever it took to keep the money out of my gas tank, and the substances in my body. During this time I was dating someone who I loved very much, and I was breaking their heart on a constant basis. As much as I loved her I couldn’t stop hurting her. I didn’t want to, but that’s what happens when you get high. You’re selfish, you don’t care, and you hurt people. Powerlessness and unmanageability at its finest, nobody’s love would keep me sober.
At 25 years old, I was hopeless. I was living with terrible resentments as well as hurting people, hurting myself, lying, cheating, and stealing. Periodically, I would try to end it, but I’d always wake up. My tolerance was ridiculous for a 140lb dude. My destructive behavior resulted in me being handcuffed and sentenced to a rehab. This was in October of 2013, which is the last time I used and where my sobriety starts.
Those handcuffs were a gift. This was the turning point. The only way that I was going to clean up my act was to be taken out of society and put in a facility. I had no willpower, I had self-will but that only got me into trouble. It was time for me to shut the fuck up and start listening to other people because at that point, everything I did was wrong and everything I touched turned to shit. So, I threw my hands up and allowed people to help me. I may have not asked for help in the first place, but it was right there in front of me and for the first time ever, I realized that I was a drug addict and this help was going to save my life.
That was my first act of humility. It didn’t feel like I thought it would. It felt good. To say I need help, to be vulnerable. Coming from a place where I hoped for death to a place where I was giving myself a second chance.
I took this opportunity and ran with it. I want to express to everyone that you don’t need to live institution to institution. I went to one rehab facility and did what they told me. I took the suggestions I was given seriously. I listened. I accepted the fact that I could not do it by myself. I needed help from someone to take me through the Steps and show me how to enhance my spiritual beliefs. I said spiritual not God belief’s, just to clarify. All I needed to believe in was something that was greater than me which I cannot explain.
I’m not going to go into the belief of my higher power, but it all started with a small belief and the willingness for it to evolve. Evolve it did. I did need someone to help me have an open mind to achieve this in the beginning. Once I had an open mind I didn’t need anyone except a power greater then myself plus the ability to turn my will and my life over to my higher power to perfect this process. My will got me high and handcuffs put on me. My will was the first thing that had to go.
One of the main reasons that I have been able to keep my sobriety besides the 12-steps is the people I have in my life, and the service that we do. The people that I’ve met in recovery that are in my close circle have this ability and privilege to help people. Every week we go out to our commitments and bring a solution to people in need of one. Not everyone accepts it, but they certainly do get an ear full.
In my personal opinion, I think the most selfish thing is to have the gift of sobriety and not help someone else in need because in the end we all have the same goal. The goal is to start a new life, and not be a slave to a substance. Stagnant sobriety is not sobriety.
I can’t explain why I have taken to recovery so well. I’m sure it has something to do with the peace of mind that I have today. Maybe it’s the service I’m able to do with my bro’s every week. I don’t ask questions. I just roll with it. I go pretty hard with the fate thing. That I was meant to live…that I have a purpose in life. Maybe this is it.
I always say whenever I try to help an addict that it’s not my goal to keep you sober, but to plant an idea in your head that it’s achievable even on your first try if you’re willing to make the effort.
Besides living a life free of anger, pain, misery, and really helping people that are struggling, my big appreciation of this whole process and the 12 Steps is that TODAY I HAVE A CHOICE. I choose not to use, and that wasn’t the case before I gave up my will. I did some pretty awful things to society when I was using. Certainly broke some, maybe all of the 10 commandments. That’s what I think about whenever the thought pops in my head to get high, all the terrible shit will happen again and probably worse.
It’s a humbling place to live with the ideology that if I get high, I’ll be dead in a week. That really sorts out all the bullshit. I appreciate my past now because by leading a positive and meaningful life I realize just how bad and unmanageable my life was. I don’t sweat any small bullshit and when I hear someone of the “normal variety” complaining about petty things, my heart goes out to them. I don’t have to turn to a wax baggie, or a bottle or a little blue pill today for a solution. The solution is clear-cut for me now. Trust god, clean house, help others. Well it’s a little more in depth than that. I was just trying to keep it in a nutshell for you or maybe, a nutshell for you to open.
My whole goal with this is to hopefully get one person to think that they can surrender, and live a happy, resentment-free sober life. I don’t expect anything from anyone. If I rely on someone else, then that takes away from the solution that I practice in my everyday life. Maybe it’s a message to someone that is really upset about their past, that they can get over the fact that they’ve hurt people. This life has a learning curve and I find that sometimes knowing what not to do is really better then knowing what to do.
I didn’t just wake up one day and say to myself “hmm I’ll just stop hurting people and getting high.” I had to lose everything and pretty much everyone in my life in order to come to the realization that I needed help. I hit my bottom had to figure this out. It took time and it didn’t just happen because I wanted it to, it happened because I needed it to.
I just threw my hands up and surrendered. That’s another thing that I’ve figured out in this whole process. The things that I want and things that I need are often times VERY different. I now take a second to think and ask myself “do I really need this or do I just want it. Does it even matter?” When I do I find I start living with things which are truly dear to me and important, not just a bunch of noise and bullshit. I don’t have much, but what I do have is people in my life that put a smile on my face, laughs in my belly, and a high to my five.
To sum this up…Nobody is hopeless. Nobody is doomed. If you don’t get it on your first try, keep trying. It’s about surrendering. I hold that with me on a daily basis. Take suggestions because they work. Take direction. Remain teachable. Remain willing. This is my past and it made me who I am today.
To any of my family or friends reading this, I love you.