Growing up I was on a path of destruction. I embraced life the only way I knew. I was defiant, defensive and consumed by hatred and fear. I hurt everyone in my life along the way. I had many guides put in my life that really tried to help me but I chose to not listen and do things my own way. I chose to fight rather than to love. I chose to steal rather than to ask. I chose lies rather than the truth. I chose hate rather than to be kind. I chose destruction and rage rather than life and serenity. Ultimately I chose to be an addict rather than to lead a healthy meaningful life.
This choice was not a conscious one. This was a choice I made as a result of events and situation that I dealt with by using drugs and alcohol. I considered using chemicals as my magic solution. I learned at a young age if I smoke or drink some of this or that, things seemed much easier. By the time I was 18 years old I had several legal issues, had left home and dropped out of school and was involved in a drug trade that would lead me places I could never imagine. Even with people all around, I was alone with addictions I did not understand.
By my mid-20’s I had created my own hell that was slowly suffocating me. I freed myself from my six year addiction to meth but in the process I picked up an addiction that proved to be much worse. I was now an opiate addict and this not only took away my decency but stole the breath from my lungs till I was literally purple. Nothing I had ever messed around with robbed me of my soul the way this drug had. My body was filthy, my mind was ravaged with greed and my soul was void of any spirit. I was a mess!
At age 26 I had no options left, my life was completely unmanageable and I was lost and alone. I was living off of little money from the government and selling my narcotic prescriptions for heroin. I just could not manage to do anything for myself besides stay wasted. I had gone from making a couple thousand dollars a week to begging from strangers and living on the streets. This process lasted only a handful of years yet it seemed like a lifetime. This was it, I needed help. A friend suggested maybe I could try to go to rehab and get some help. I had no choice in the end and no idea that what I was about to do would save my life.
When I arrived I felt like a failure. My feeling was not that I failed at living, it was that I failed at dying. I had a morbid sense of direction toward life and my mind went straight to not being able to control my habits, rather than to the fact that maybe there was a different way to live all together. Being in treatment was quite a blow to my ego and everything I prided myself on was being challenged. I did start believing in the power of the group. They seemed to have a genuine desire to help me as, after a while, I did them. After a few weeks I learned more about myself than I had in a lifetime. I was digging out all the nasty shit that was filling a hole in my soul. I was pulling things out that I never knew existed and putting in their place hope, courage and truth. I was learning about a book that was to be my best friend for a while and knowing what I know now, for life. I was also introduced to these strange meetings where people just like me gathered to share listen and learn.
These meetings and this book became part of a routine I would follow on and off for the next four years. I was not by any means the best student. I had to do a lot of research on this concept of once an addict always an addict. I kept thinking I could do some controlled using projects where in my mind everything would turn out fine. Well this line of experimentation led me back to treatments and back to the streets. I had more jail time experience and plenty more ways where I let myself and everyone who cared about me down. Whenever I would get sober again I would start my routine again and get a little farther and get a little closer to accepting my addiction. With this cycle of hope and destruction came a lot of knowledge. I noticed I was much more alive and felt so much better with each span of clarity. Slowly I was getting it; I was changing right before my eyes. I was choosing to listen rather than to ignore. I was choosing to love rather than to fight. I was learning to ask for what I needed rather than stealing. I learned that telling the truth was much more powerful than telling a lie. I learned to be kind to others, and it turns out people may be kind back. Most importantly I learned to be true to myself and to have faith in the people around me.
This may sound like I live in a perfect place now, have a pure heart and never get angry or sad. This is not the case. My life is a struggle every day. I still have negative thoughts, sometimes I get frustrated with people or situations. I still have the urge to get wasted, go to the bar or stick a needle in my arm. Sometimes I still have the urge to throw a lamp across the room just to watch it explode. Sometimes I still want to turn my stereo all the way up and run around like a child. Once in a while I catch myself daydreaming about how much fun I had as a hellion. Sometimes I grieve the loss of my old lifestyle but all it takes to bring me right back is for me to flip the scrip and think of the all the bad memories, the misery and suffering. The intense pain and disgust with where I ended up is enough to snap my reality back in place if not forever, for now will do.
There are millions of people in the world that drink alcohol to let loose on the weekends or just at social gatherings. Everyday I wish I was one of those people but this just is not true and never will be. Today I can bring myself to go have a bite to eat at Old Chicago or be at a social gathering where there is drinking going on. I can even sit next to the guy rolling a blunt on the bus and be ok with it. This is only because of the changes I have made in my life and the struggle I have had to come to love myself and appreciate everything I have gone through. Today I am proud to say that I am an alcoholic and an addict but I am choosing not to use chemicals today. When people ask me why I am not having a drink or why I don’t want to buy a bag, I say to them with a smirk, because every time I do I break out in handcuffs. It’s a funny joke but so true.
The methods I use today to make sure I don’t go back to my old ways are simple. When I have a big decision to make, am angry or sad, or just have good news I call my sponsor. A sponsor is like a mentor but also guides you through the steps millions of people have used to stay sober. I go to many meetings for alcoholics a week. I do service work at the meetings to help them run smoothly. I work steps that help me to analyze myself and improve. I have a large amount of friends who are sober as well and we have a lot of fun. I used to think I couldn’t have fun if I wasn’t wasted but that is such a false belief, I think I have more fun now because I wake up the next day remembering what I did the night before and done have to dread those phone calls where I have no idea what the other person is talking about. Plus, I don’t wake up in jail cells or at some strange house.
This is only one way of thinking about change but it is important to me. I was 11 when I first started stealing alcohol and blacking out, today I am in a very different place. I have managed to change my defiance and hatred for the world. My outlook and faith for life has also changed. I have changed the people I choose to share my life with. I have changed the places I go and I made a geographical change. I have changed spiritually, mentally and physically. I have changed everything and all of these things I traded for a life worth living. My name is Kristi and I am an alcoholic/addict and today I chose sobriety.