My failures no longer define me, they help me shape my character.

My family always meant well, but inside the plain walls of our so called “lovely” home my father, mother, younger sister and I were internally dysfunctional. The type of family the real world would or could never imagine.   Growing up was the worst time for me, unless I was away from my family who I was told I should be closest with, that statement just cracked me up. Perfection is the one word that has been deeply ingrained in my being and that I chose to live for. I know now I was the victim–what young child can understand how to truly deal with their feelings? Let alone myself, who has always examined and analyzed everything in detail. I was a stubborn girl who was outspoken in her beliefs. I grew up believing I could never be enough. I tried proving to so many people in my life (especially, my mom) that I was always right. When this failed, which it did so many times, I went searching for answers in all the wrong places.

I’ve always been a pretty social person. I have friends from all walks of life. My sister and I grew very close through our school years together. Sports and music were my greatest attributes throughout middle and high school. You know those things that give people hope and strength? I found them in Field Hockey, singing, and playing the saxophone. As I began to excel externally, my family was proud and you would assume all was well. However, home life got worse. I grew distant with the people who mattered most to me, and what beats telling the world you’re a lesbian? I struggled on a daily basis with self-worth and acceptance of who I really was. Life got hard and I started hanging out with the wrong crowds. From cigarettes to alcohol to drugs, one thing led to another and before I knew it I was a full blown active addict.

I was so proud of myself thinking that I had finally found a way to get through life and be okay, until the day came when my solution no longer worked for me. I didn’t want to feel anything and this solution I had discovered seemed to be the easiest way out. Soon enough, everything in my life was taken away. I lost my relationship with my family, my sister, and the only true friends I had at the time. College was the last thing on my mind. I completely stopped caring about myself and threw away any opportunities that were given to me. I became unreliable, mean, dirty, and my life was completely unmanageable. Fear ran my life while I was active and it became my biggest motivator for all the wrong reasons. I was afraid I would never amount to anything and be a failure in everything I chose to do in my life. My actions and decision greatly affected the ones who loved me most. I broke the hearts of my family who constantly reach out to help me. I was merely existing, not living.

I’ll never forget the day that I surrendered. A feeling washed over me that told me to let go; to stop the fight. It has been said that giving up doesn’t mean you’re weak, sometimes it means you are strong enough and smart enough to let go. That day, I was willing to let down my guard and become open to seeing life in a different light. Since my journey in recovery that began at the age of 21, I have learned to strive to be a better person one day at a time. Something that has always stuck with me is the only time I have is this exact moment. That’s all any of us have. I choose to live each day to the fullest. I am learning not to be so hard on myself and try to remember, easy does it. My mistakes are proof that I am trying to do what’s right and discover who I am by understanding my problems today. My failures no longer define me, they help me shape my character.

Gratitude and forgiveness are essential to my daily healing.

Gratitude and forgiveness are essential to my daily healing. Being grateful turns what I have into enough. Forgiving myself and others gives me a peace of mind. I’ve gained back such a solid and loving relationship with my family members. The friends I have today are real and genuine. I am a college student making an effort to be a successful part of society and do the things I love. Owning up to my wrongs has allowed me to learn and earn respect from others. I never thought I would’ve ended up where I am, but I can tell you that I value my addiction today. I’ve been given a second chance at life and it is more than I could’ve ever imagined. I am now a 25 year old who just recently celebrated two years of sobriety.

Some may view addiction as a disgrace or an embarrassment but before passing judgment I suggest that everyone should try to understand another person’s struggle. Treat people with understanding when you can and try to when you can’t, until you do truly understand. We all know what it feels like to be in pain which is the exact reason why we should be kind to others and stay aware. You get in return, what you give.

By sharing my story I hope to help someone else in need. Always know, you’re never alone. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it expresses humility and speaks true of your character. Honesty changed my life. I believe with my whole heart that it can help anyone transform their lives. Relationships with other individuals who choose to live a life of recovery have significantly influenced my life. Their support and personal experiences assist in keeping me grounded and connected.

There is always hope, no matter what.