When I first heard about I Am Not Anonymous, I thought it was one of the coolest things to hit the recovery world. I subscribe to the idea that there is nothing shameful about being in recovery. It is my life. It has made me the man I am today. A man worthy of love and respect. Some people believe that they need to keep their recovery a secret, I am not one of those people. Partly because the depths of my addiction was thrown into the spotlight with some unsolicited press in the form of newspaper articles in 2013. It’s quite possible that I was the last person to know that I had a problem with drugs and alcohol.
My whole life I have felt like there was a void in my soul. A missing piece of me. A void that I have constantly tried to fill with different vices. When I would feel this emptiness, I would suffer from a crippling depression. The easiest way is to try to fill this void was by self medicating. I turned to drugs, alcohol, love and acceptance. With these vices, I would feel complete for a short period of time. After years of trying, I realized that no matter how hard I tried, I would never succeed in filling this void. This is when the feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, degradation and desolation became the norm. I was trying to kill myself in the slowest way possible.
I wanted to get clean but I didn’t know how. I didn’t know who to turn to. I didn’t know anyone that had succeeded in getting clean that was willing to help me. The people around me were dying or going to jail. I didn’t have a single coping skill. Any time a stressor entered my life, I would run away into my comfort zone, a narcotic fueled haze where feelings were imaginary. I just wanted to numb the pain. However, the problem with numbing your feelings is that you cannot pick and choose which feelings you numb. All of the positive emotions that I wished I had were also being dulled out of existence in turn creating a vicious cycle of depression and suicidal tendencies
As much as I wanted help, no one was going to give me their clean time. It isn’t possible. I had to put some work in. I had to get through the pain and the sickness. I had to realize that my current living situation was a result of my past actions. I had to persevere. There isn’t a pill that was going to cure me of my addiction or get me through withdrawals. There is no use regretting the past or feeling anxiety about the future. The only way to get clean would be to start being a better person this very second.
Everyone is different in how they get clean. Some people finally look in the mirror for the first time in years. Some people are thrown into rehab by loved ones. Others get arrested. For me, I had just overdosed and was in the hospital knocking on death’s door. I looked at the EMT’s and doctors around me and asked them if I was going to die. The doctor just looked at me, shrugged and walked away with a look of fear in his eyes. That was the moment when I realized this was a matter of life and death. Get clean or die.
After some time in rehab, I came out and I started getting involved with other addicts. I began sharing about my feelings and making friends who were clean. I took suggestions and figured out that you only have to go through withdrawals once. You can’t get high if you don’t pick up. This was when I realized that this void inside of me can be filled with spirituality and self-worth. I also figured out that every day away from drugs and alcohol gets easier. Triggers and cravings have less power over you with every extra hour that you are clean.
The problem with being anonymous is that there are tons of people in the world who are still suffering that do not know who to talk to. They will never know that there is a better way to live. They will never know that there are people willing to reach out and help them. These people may feel alone and scared. I’m here as a part of this group to let you know that you aren’t alone and there is a better way to live. My name is Hugh Murray and I am in recovery.