I am clean from addiction for 7 years today and that is cause for celebration! I no longer ask why am I an addict, it doesn’t matter anymore.
When I first came into recovery time seemed to move so slowly and everything was a battle. But from about 2 years clean time things started moving fast and I can now hardly believe I have managed to live clean for so long.
A lot of my posts and information I will be sharing on my blog will be how to get clean and what active addiction was like for me. The purpose of this is to hopefully help others that are struggling with their addictions. Today I want to share about the gifts of recovery and the joy I have on a daily basis. Joy I could never dream of while I was still using drugs and drinking.
Using drugs and drinking was a very lonely time for me. From when I was a little girl I used to dream about meeting the one and getting married, having 2 children and my own home. I’m not sure if other little girls dream about this, but all I ever wanted was my own little family. You know, the white picket fence and all. I also wanted to run my own business.
I started drinking and using drugs from the age of 14 years old. From that time on my life went nowhere but down. I tried to block out my dreams simply because it appeared they would be impossible to reach. I got into abusive, unhealthy relationships and over time my spirit was broken. Each relationship I got into was worse than the one before. My using and drinking increased and my life was a complete mess. When I think about how my life was the song Sober by Pink comes to mind. If you haven’t heard it I suggest you do!
When I got into recovery at the age of 29 I was told that I was not allowed to get into a relationship for the first year. I was to work on myself and work the 12 Step program with my sponsor. This all sounded very boring and lonely to me. I followed all the suggested things and worked hard. Slowly but surely I learned to love myself and the need to be in a relationship disappeared. I was happy on my own.
As soon as I was happy with myself and happy to be alone what happens? Yes, Mr Right came into my life. For the first time in my life I met a man that truly cared about me and treated me properly.
I always wanted to do things the “right” way. Meet a man, date for about a year and then get married. Spend a bit of time enjoying our marriage and then plan to have our children. The way “normal” people do things. Life however stepped in and decided to mix it up for me. 3 Months after meeting Mr Right I found out I was 4 weeks pregnant. I was terrified. Not only was I pregnant with a man I had only started dating but he lived 150kms away!
The difference between living in recovery and living in active addiction is that life has a way of working out, instead of everything continuously going pear-shaped.
When I was 6 months pregnant we got married and I moved towns to be with my new husband. It was a very scary time for me, but we wanted to be married and living together by the time our little girl arrived.
The moment my daughter was born was the most incredible moment of my life. I remember looking at her for the first time and feeling almost disconnected from everything but her. The amount of love I felt at that moment was overpowering, it took over everything. That feeling beats any high from any drug.
Getting married and having a baby in such a short space of time was tough. We had only been living together for 3 months when she was born. As anyone that has children knows if you have a good, stable relationship and add a new baby it is hard and will shake even the most stable relationship. Shortly after our girl was born I got post natal depression. I found myself struggling in my new marriage, fearful of being a new mother and living in a new town where I knew nobody!
I had not been able to find an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting either. There was one listed on the website for the next close town but every time I went I couldn’t find it and the number listed for that meeting didn’t work. I didn’t feel my recovery was in jeopardy and I had no urge to use but I was unhappy, scared and lonely.
When my daughter was about 6 months old the fog of PND started to lift and I realised I had been in a depression.I also got into contact with AA and found another contact person for the AA Meetings and found out where the correct meeting was. It turned out that there was a meeting in my town just a few streets away. It felt like coming home, somewhere that I can share my innermost thoughts and fears without being judged. Just great support and understanding.
Very soon I decided I wanted to start my own business, I dived in with great enthusiasm and launched Kaboutjie. An online baby store in South Africa. Yes at the time I knew nothing about working online but I was determined to learn and make it succeed. I became passionate about it and it was amazing to see it take shape. I did have a lot of fear though. In active addiction I could not succeed at anything, it seemed aeverything destroyed by my touch. I had to face my fears head-on and work hard.
It was also about this time I started becoming more comfortable as a mother. Being a new mom is without a doubt the scariest thing I have ever encountered. For her first birthday party I threw a big party for her. My husband couldn’t understand it, he said it was a waste of time and money, especially as she didn’t have a clue what was going on. Silly man, the party wasn’t for her, it was for me. I had managed to keep another being alive, healthy and happy for a full year. Me, a useless drug addict that had never been able to do anything right!
When my daughter was 15 months old we had another surprise! Yes pregnant again! I cried copious amounts because I knew now how hard being a mom was and I was scared how I would handle 2 children. I was scared how my daughter would adjust. I was scared how I would be able to run my company and bring up 2 children. I was scared I would love my daughter more than the new baby because I couldn’t understand how I would be able to feel the same amount of love for another being. Surely there is a limit to such a powerful feeling of love? Ok the pregnancy hormones probably really came into play too, but I cried buckets whatever the reasons.
Our son was born 19 months ago and he is the sweetest, most gorgeous boy I have ever met. The moment I saw him all my fears disappeared, I loved him just as much as my daughter. The love was just there.
I realise now that all my dreams have been fulfilled. Yes I still need to buy my own home instead of rent, and I would like to be more financially stable. I have a loving husband and my two perfect children. I have my own business. My childhood dreams are here now, they are a reality. This is my life and I never thought I would have it.
There are certain things during my day that give me so much joy that perhaps other people take for granted.
The early morning light peeping through the curtains, along with the sound of birds starting to sing in the morning. This is incredibly special for me. It marks a new day, one where I am waking up sober. I have been asleep all night, in my own bed. In active addiction I would still be awake and high from the previous night, very often in a strange place and every time I saw morning approaching I would feel a sick panic creeping in. Another day wasted, more shame and humiliation.
Yes my husband and I have disagreements from time to time, but I can even be grateful when things are at its worst between us. He has never raised his voice to me, never said any derogatory comments or raised a hand to me. He has always treated me with love and respect even when he is angry with me. When we are having one of our down moments I always remember that he is special. It is a far cry from the black eyes, broken noses and verbal abuse I received on a constant basis during my active addiction years.
Something that is so true is that even the worst day sober is so much better than my best day using. There is no comparison.
I thank my higher power every day for the gifts I have received, for the life I am able to live with my family. I pray for the still suffering addicts and alcoholics. I pray for the addicts and alcoholics I met during my recovery process that have died from this disease as well as for the loved ones they left behind.
Please share any thoughts you have by leaving a comment, I would love to hear from you.