My Recovery Journey Proved To Me That One Size Doesn’t Fit All

So, I’m not even sure how to tell my tale in a concise, easy to read version, but I’ll try. My parents were wonderful, no addiction, no alcohol, and extremely loving. I excelled in school, I had good friends. I was the youngest of 6 children and was definitely spoiled. I learned very young how to please people to get what I wanted, when I wanted it. I learned how to manipulate the different people in my life and play mom against dad or sister against brother to get my way. These patterns continued into my friendships and relationships later in life. I never felt accepted, good enough, or like I thought others were feeling. I always wanted more of anything I deemed good. I got bored easily and anything I did I thought I had to be perfect at. I was molested at 7 years old as well but never thought I could or even should tell anyone, as it went with my people pleasing mentality. I just wanted to be accepted and loved by everyone I knew. Anytime I didn’t do something to my own perception of perfect, I thought of myself as an utter failure. In some relationships throughout my childhood and even into adulthood I played the victim, unintentionally, but I learned that if I were a victim some people would love me more, spend more time with me and ultimately give me what I desired if only I did what they wanted in return. In other relationships I found that if I guided them, if I was their rock, if I provided for them, then they would love me, be there for me and ultimately give me the feeling of being needed. Little did I know at the time, that these behaviors would only get worse as I got older. My need to play the victim or my need to feel powerful, which I believed would lead me to feel loved, desired, safe, and happy. Many times through no perceived fault of my own, I would have the relationship end, thus feeling empty, powerless, abandoned, and rejected. My dad passed away when I was 19, thus leaving only my mom and even that left me feeling abandoned. My best friend at 23 died and again added to my emotional pain.
Now, I talk about my emotional struggles because that is at the core of my using.

When I was 16, I started smoking weed, using cocaine, drinking alcohol, tripping on acid and Shrooms. I completely loved the way it all made me feel. I felt larger than life, like I was complete and whole, like I thought others felt. Drugs became my connection to feeling what I perceived as normal or better yet just not the way I normally felt. I used socially, recreationally, and by myself. I started lying, and hiding my use to please those that didn’t like it, and I surrounded myself with other like minded people so I could use comfortably. Using was the only thing that made me feel happy, and I needed more of it regularly.

I graduated high school top of my class, I went to college, I had many unsuccessful relationships, I’ve had more friendships than I can count but only a few really close friends that I was either dependent on or telling them how they should live their lives. All of these friendships and relationships ended poorly, and that left me abandoned, rejected, feeling worthless, and empty inside, but my trusty drugs were always there to save me until my next friend/lover/(victim) came along. I’ve been very successful in my career as well, being a phenomenal manager and manipulator, I have managed Best Buy, J.C. Penney, Office Max, Office Depot, HHGregg, and been an international sales manager at Air Technical. I’ve had apartments, houses, cars, money, and success by any measure but my own. Nothing has ever been good enough. During one of my saving missions of a friend, I got introduced to heroin and crack…..I found the King and Queen of my emotional stability. Heroin made me perceive that my feelings were finally under control. I had found my Lord and savior. I’d have sold my soul for the way heroin made me feel. It blotted out my hurt, my regret, my sadness, my abandonment, my rejection, I no longer cared about other people needing me, being successful, eventually I didn’t even care about myself. Once my buried emotional pain surfaced through my heroin use, when my so called Lord of emotional control wasn’t enough, I was left with a bag of remorse, guilt, shame, abandonment, rejection, jealousy, anger, grief, and pain….it was so bad I didn’t care if I lived or died, I prayed for death so I wouldn’t have to feel the overwhelming emotions I couldn’t even name or begin to describe at the time, I just wanted to not feel them, I wanted to be rescued, I wanted to be loved, but my definition of love had become so jacked up over the years of playing the chameleon, I needed a new way, I new definition, but it was all so scary. I had lost my jobs, most of my family, all my possessions, my home, my car, my freedom (jail and prison), my self confidence, and finally my only source of peace (heroin).

I have been in recovery since July 2013, I have tried AA, NA, rehab, Suboxone, Vivitrol, counseling, learning, reading, church, support groups, talking to family, psychiatric care, and I relapsed every single time I tried any one approach. This time I have been sober for 11 months, I have no desire for use, I don’t lie anymore or rarely, I don’t manipulate anymore, I avoid toxic relationships, I’ve learned about codependence and how to spot it in my self and others, I have found my Zen or spirituality, I go to counseling and see a psychiatrist. I utilize support groups and people who’ve been there before me. I’ve learned that I tell my mom how I feel, but I don’t expect her to have the fix anymore. I know it’s up to me to build up as many defenses against relapse as I can for me. I tell on myself now, I care for others genuinely and not for what I can get out of it. I feel natural happiness. I am grateful in everything. I now feel ok. Life is still a struggle, it gets easier every day. I know now addiction was never the issue, nor were the circumstances of my childhood, nor the people in my life (they did the best the knew how), I stopped playing the victim of my past, I learned to love, I stopped trying to control everyone and everything, I learned to cherish what I do have. I know now the past is something I can’t change, that I have to learn from it, and become a better version of myself everyday I have another chance. There are good things in life and bad, but I can only address my response and thoughts about them. I’ve learned to accept people and life for who and what it is. Man was it scary as Hell, it still is at times. It’s been a long hard road. It’s not over. I learned my problem was my emotional self, my duality of codependent roles playing out in my unconscious, and my inability to express myself. I now work on those issues daily. It’s my life’s work to be better than I was yesterday and to help any one I can to do the same, without become codependent with them, either being the needy dependent or the controlling savior. Life is worth living, I believe in my self now, I no longer blame others for who I am or what I did, I am free to be me.

Love and prayers to all. I hope my story can help someone struggling with addiction, codependence, or any one touched by either. I highly recommend you get a bible, get a big book, go to meetings, go to counseling, get your mental health checked, get Codependent No More, get The Addicts Loop, find anything that works for you, this isn’t a one size fits all magical cure, if my struggle has shown me anything, it’s that I had to find my own cocktail that works for me. Much love and prayer.