Gratitude has nestled itself deep in my heart and I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world.

I grew up in your average middle class home with many siblings including my mother and step-father. I didn’t necessarily feel out of place, just that I somehow didn’t belong. I felt different and as though I couldn’t make my family proud. I felt as if I was always angry, always rebelling in my own ways. I wasn’t much for expressing myself, therefore, I kept all of my feelings inside. My family wasn’t mean to me or anything like that, but I definitely felt set apart from them since the lifestyle I was growing into was not highly accepted within the religion my family practiced back then. All I wanted was to feel accepted.

Once I realized that being a lesbian was something which I thought seemed to disappoint my family and some of my friends, I turned to a world which had more darkness than light. Yet, I seemed to finally be in a place which I thought I could belong. I started hanging out with different friends and my addictive behaviors began to pick up quite quickly. After I took that first step and enjoyed the feelings I got from drinking and using drugs, an instant sense of letting go and not having to care anymore, I lost the ability to control my addiction. I tried to tell myself that I could stop if I wanted to. However, the more I tried to stop the harder it became. My brain told me that if I stopped using, I was going to go back to being alone and a disappointment. I was terrified of losing this sense of feeling good. I had found an escape hatch and I wasn’t going back to feeling the way I had before.

As fate would have it, the “good” feelings I had gotten from this escape hatch I found became harder and harder to achieve. I started getting into legal trouble and I lost my grip on reality. I was no longer present for anyone, including my family and myself. I was a shell of a person who no longer cared. The worst part was that I was too scared to vocalize how bad things had really become. I totaled my car because I fell asleep driving drunk and I didn’t even bother to call my mother and let her know what had happened. She ended up calling my job later the following day because she hadn’t heard from me in nearly 3 full days. I usually called her every day. I didn’t mentioned to anyone that I wished I had died in that accident because I was no longer someone I recognized. A very bitter insanity had taken over my life in the form of drugs and alcohol.

This disease tried to tell me that I would never amount to anything and that I was just fine doing what I was doing. It even tried to tell me that I was better off dead! Something as powerful as addiction can be widely underestimated and frequently misunderstood. I know that for me, I could not just simply stop. I needed a solid foundation which to anchor myself on. Until I knew how to love myself the support and genuine care from others in recovery provided me with the stability necessary to love myself and this was exactly what I needed. Without the experiences which my addiction had brought into my life, I would be unable to learn from them. I don’t regret my past because I can be a better person for having been through it. I recognize the things I used to see as flaws in myself, are things which others who have been through similar situations can identify with.

I am no longer scared or ashamed to be whom I am.

Since I have started to live the life of recovery, I have become an entirely different person. In just over a years’ time I can say that I am no longer scared or ashamed to be whom I am. I actually genuinely love the person I am becoming. I am excited to continue learning about the disease of addiction and helping others to fight the good fight. By keeping myself surrounded in recovery based living, I am constantly reminded that I am in fact worth it and I am never alone. Recovery has helped me become a college graduate, self-supporting, honest and compassionate. I am present for my family and my mother tells me she is proud of me. My relationships have grown on solid trust and honesty. I have a great relationship with my family as well as the most honest and genuine friends anyone could ever ask for. I am not in any way ashamed to say that I am in recovery because I don’t believe I would even be alive if I hadn’t waved my white flag. I came into this bruised, battered and broken. I am proud to say that being as involved as I can is an amazing feeling. Being part of a movement which restores hope in an individual who has lost just that, is a beautiful thing. One can literally watch that glimmer in their eye grow as they witness the gifts of recovery. I am proud to be a part of this effort, as it continues to change my life in all the right ways. It seems to be its very own brand of insanity — the good kind.

Gratitude has nestled itself deep in my heart and I wouldn’t trade this for anything in the world. I live a life today that is beyond anything I could have ever dreamed possible for myself. I have hope for my future and have learned to live in the moment. Life is so very precious and being in recovery has given my life back to me.

Recovery has shown me the sweet side of insanity — and for that, I am grateful.