Yesterday I celebrated 7 months clean and sober. The fact that I am here today and can say that is honestly a miracle. Many people around me were scared and lost so much sleep not knowing what I was doing, with who, and what I was putting into my body.
So, in honor of the last 7 months, and as a thank you to those in my life who stuck around, here are some of the defining moments with important people in my life who impacted my life and recovery in a positive way. Feel free to pass along to anyone who you think needs to hear it, too.
The one who set a boundary.
Some people may see this one and question how it was that I would even consider saying that this person loved me well. After all, almost immediately before my darkest moment and my rock bottom, this person chose to “abandon ship,” or that is how I saw it at the time. It sucked too. It sucked so bad. The thing is, as an addict I am terrible with setting boundaries and yet the minute someone else does, it is nearly impossible to respect it.
In my disease, I felt untouchable…when I was high at least. Nothing anyone did could get me down. That’s because I was numbing everything. Any moment that I had to spend feeling all my feelings was one that I dreaded because I just didn’t want to feel it. Any of it. This person was someone who I cared about very deeply and who had become a close person in my life, and when he told me he couldn’t associate with me because of my drug use, it hurt me down to my core. I was hurt, I was angry, I felt rejected.
So what did I do? I used more. I mentally said screw him, and I just kept going. I’d use more, do it more often, and every single time I thought of him and how I had burned a bridge that meant so much to me. Then, in order to numb the feeling associated with that memory, I’d use more.
Him setting the boundary is one of the things that saved my life looking back. I knew if I lost him that it was only a matter of time before I’d lose other people as well. It was only about a month later that I chose to enter treatment which ultimately saved my life.
He loved me well, without even knowing it, by cutting me out. I am happy to report that after I came out of treatment we reconnected, and he is one of the people that I am always excited to tell that I am another month sober. I greatly value our friendship, and it wouldn’t be what it is today had he not set the boundary.
The one who just sat with me.
One of the most intimate and vulnerable times with a friend in my disease was the night when one of my really good friends from my bible study came over. I remember that day I had spent a good part of it using, to the point where my nose was raw. I tried to cancel on her because I felt shame. Then I was honest about why I was trying to cancel. I told her I had used that day. I left her the option of whether to come over that day or come another time. She chose to come over.
After we ate a meal at a Chinese place near where I was living (which tasted like I was eating chalk by the way) because my drug of choice had depleted my ability to feel any kind of pleasure, she came over to my place. We sat and talked, and I kept having to get up and blow my nose to the point where it was raw and (warning, TMI) bloody. At one point, I had just blown my nose and there was literally blood all over my nose. I felt so ashamed and gross, and I just kept apologizing to her.
At one point since nothing was working for my nose, she suggested that I put my face over hot water, add some essential oils, and just breathe. I put my face over the water and she held the towel and my hair in place for me. That meant so much to me. We sat and talked and I remember getting emotional and teary because I was so mad at myself that I couldn’t get rid of my terrifying drug problem and yet I wanted to so bad.
The fact that she was just there with me that night was what I will always remember. It wasn’t anything she said or did, but just her presence there with me is what made a difference. THAT is true friendship.
The one who visited me in treatment.
There was one friend in particular who was my ROCK throughout my active addiction and into my recovery. She sat with me, cried with me, mourned with me, celebrated with me… she was there through it all. I knew if I needed her, she would be there. She encouraged me. Even though she didn’t necessarily understand MY addiction and what it was like, she tried everything in her power to show me that she did understand the feeling of wanting to stop something so bad but not being able to “just stop.”
This person is my best friend for so many reasons, but the fact that she was there and that when I was in treatment she continued to be there for me through phone and by visiting me meant so much.
It’s not easy watching a friend who you dearly love slowly kill themselves. I have friends, “fair weather friends,” who towards the end when I really needed them decided to step away. I have friends who could have visited me, they definitely had time but they were “too busy” or “couldn’t make it” even though if it was them, I would have been there in a second.
The one(s) who wrote to me.
One of the sweetest gifts while I was in treatment was when I was written to. Nowadays, we are so impersonal and the fact that someone from my church took the time to write to me and someone else not only sent me 2 books, but had her entire midweek group write to me… that meant so much. I felt so loved. Literally every letter I received is something I still have and treasure so much because it is my demonstrated proof that there are people in my life who were loving on me through it all. Even though we couldn’t talk on the phone or via Facebook, they cared enough to find another way.
The one(s) who showed up.
June 20, 2019 was my 27th birthday. I celebrated my birthday around that time. However, I remember feeling incredibly low the day of my party and wanting to cancel it. I was feeling so ashamed that I had relapsed and that I was putting my loved ones through it again. Some people canceled the day of. Some people didn’t even respond to the invite. I realized it was 100% my fault too because I was in my active disease, and I wouldn’t have wanted to be my friend either. Still, the ones who showed up time after time for me despite the circumstances… those are the friends who stand out in my mind as real, true friends.
I am incredibly blessed to have the people in my life I do. I pray everyone experiences the type of friendship I have been able to. Who in your life has loved you well and how have they done it?