The gifts of sobriety are inexplicably wonderful.

Growing up in a family that loved me unconditionally was not enough to keep me from straying from the path of a happy and fulfilled life. The disease of addiction was in my blood from the day I was born. I had a genetic predisposition for addiction, and I displayed many characteristics that I now see as being a product of my affliction. As an adolescent, I never felt like I fit in. I walked around feeling like everyone hated me, and for some reason or another everyone knew how to live life, except for me. Hate sounds like a strong word, but that is truly how I felt. No matter where I went, whom I talked to, or how I looked - I never felt good enough. This was because I didn’t like myself.

The years I spent trying to figure out who I was were futile. I suffered through the mental torture of becoming a chameleon, just trying to blend in with any group of friends I could get to accept me for the façade I put on. I felt left out, unaccepted, lonely, and afraid. After a grueling and disastrously unhealthy relationship, I was completely broken. It was in the despair of my failed attempts at being accepted that I found my solution – the solution that would end up becoming the reason for my demise.

I was always good at giving others advice, but never good at taking my own. After a few short years, that felt like an eternity, I hit a bottom. I had never felt the darkness of depression at the magnitude that I felt during this time. Waking up in the morning was more than I could bear. I was done. I could not tell one more lie, buy one more drug, or cry one more tear – I wanted to change.

Recovery is a beautiful thing. I could not ask for a better life today. The gifts of sobriety are inexplicably wonderful. I am at peace with myself, I can truly laugh and smile like I mean it. I can be a daughter, a sister, and a friend. I finished my Bachelor’s degree, and am now pursuing a Master’s degree in Mental Health Counseling. I can use my past as a means to help others. I don’t regret my past, but I embrace it. It made me the person I am today.

Sharing my story of recovery is important for me. I want people to know that being in recovery is nothing to be ashamed of. I am responsible for my recovery today, but I am not responsible for having the disease of addiction. The disease is not debilitating to me, in fact it has made me stronger. Overcoming my addiction was one of the hardest things I had to do, but it is the best thing I ever did. There is still a lot of negative stigma that comes with the recovery community, and I want to do my part to help create a recovery ready community and reduce the stigma associated with addiction.

I never knew that I would sit here today and write an essay on my recovery from the disease of addiction, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my life today. I am a productive member of society today. I have feelings. I have morals. I am trusted, I am respected, I treat others with respect, and I am accountable today. Without my recovery, I am none of these things. Without my recovery, I am lost.