God Saved Me

God saved me.

I know that, to some people, that statement sounds incredibly stupid. There are people out there who think that He doesn’t exist, that He could never exist. Then there are the people who believe in Him but hate Him because of the tragedies that they’ve been through in their life, because of the people they’ve lost or the things that they’ve seen. I used to be both of those people. That probably doesn’t make sense because how could I be both people? Well, I was both people, regardless of the logic.

There are two things I used to believe. One was that God didn’t exist & that He was this imaginary friend that desperate people made up because they were searching for something to believe in. He wasn’t there, there was no God, & there couldn’t ever possibly be. I believed that the Bible was created by flawed men, and that it was all lies to control stupid people with. There was no God, there were just people that hoped there was.

My other belief was that God was there, He existed, but that He must absolutely hate humanity. I used to turn on the news and see all of the people dying from natural disasters, diseases, serial killers, mass shootings, etc. I thought of the people (some of which were children) that were laying in hospital beds all over the world riddled with cancer, begging for the pain to stop, begging for it all to end, questioning why they weren’t good enough to be healthy. I saw hurricanes and tornadoes on television that destroyed peoples’ homes, killed animals and children and everything that this God said He loved.

And then I looked in the mirror at myself, track marks on my arms, bags under my eyes. I thought about my life, about how my daughter was going to be taken away from me, that I didn’t have a bed to sleep in, that I had to steal from everyone and anyone. I was infected by a disease, a disease that has no sympathy; addiction. I was full of mental illness. And I knew that I did this to myself, but I wondered why this God wouldn’t help me. I didn’t know that it was going to get that bad in the beginning. I remember thinking that He was sitting up there in Heaven or whatever, staring down at me from His big comfortable throne, and He was laughing at me.

I hated Him. With everything inside of me, I hated Him. 

When I went through my recovery for the third time, though, I was surrounded by people who loved this God. I questioned their beliefs in the beginning. “How could a loving God kill children? How could a loving God allow diseases and terrorism and every horrible thing that has happened to happen?!” I asked people this question, I screamed & shouted it inside of my head. I didn’t get an answer. I went to church with these people, these people who loved God and had a faith that could move mountains. I went to church week after week after week, confusion & doubt nearly drowning me.

And then I felt Him. 

It was an experience like no other, a feeling that is extremely hard to explain. It was as if I could feel God pulling my spirit out from my body & filling it with something I hadn’t felt in so long; hope. For months after this happened, I started getting deeper into the bible and memorizing scripture and studying the passages. I did it partly because it was part of the program & I had to, but also because I craved more of Him. I desperately wanted to be closer to God. 

Experiences similar to the first one started happening more frequently. I constantly heard His voice, I felt Him on a daily basis. He pushed me to stay strong, He comforted me, He told me how much He loved me, how much I was worth. He told me that I was His daughter & I was unique and beautiful and everything was going to be okay. He was by my side throughout my entire recovery. Things started to happen in my life. The relationships with the people that I love were being reconciled, I wasn’t craving heroin anymore, I was becoming…different. When I graduated from the program, I realized that He had been here for me the entire time, I just wasn’t listening. I was doing my own thing, and my own thing led me nearly to death.

I still have questions, I still wonder why the world is in the state that it is in. But I know that He has a reason and that He loves us. I don’t know why I was saved from addiction while thousands of people out there (some of them people that I love) died from it. I also don’t think that I will ever get the answers to any of it, that I will never know any of the reasons, but I think that I have to have faith regardless.

So, yeah. God saved me. And He can save you, too. You just have to listen.

 

 

Dear, Drugs.

Dear drugs,

You never loved me. You constantly left me on the verge of collapse, ripping at my soul, tearing out my heart. You were terror in a syringe, masked by the feeling of “escape” that you gave me. You lied to me, that’s all you ever did.

You never cared about me. You made me sick, riddled by cold sweats and constant nausea, paranoia and disgust. In the dead of the night, I clawed at my skin. I wanted to get away from you so badly. There were times when I thought that I had finally gotten rid of you, but the bruises that marked my arms reminded me that you weren’t gone. You were never gone. You were always there.

You took my daughter from me. You took my family away. You made me lie to the people that I loved, you made me steal things from people who trusted me. I looked in the mirror and there was nothing left of me but you; you & your empty promises, your sick game that you make millions of people play.

You stole my happiness, you ripped it away from me. I was nothing anymore, void of compassion, unable to feel guilt or empathy. You consumed me until I was nothing but bones peeking out from underneath cold, pale skin & all I craved was you. I couldn’t eat or sleep. I couldn’t live.

But the best part about all of this, my old friend, is that I won. Now it’s you that is nothing. I am three years free of you & I have never felt better. I am strong. I am alive.

I am more than you will ever be.

 

For the Recovering Addict…

They say that everything heals with time. They say that the pain gets more bearable & things get easier. But lately, I feel like my heart is on fire & my soul is under attack. The things that I have done, the people that I have lost, the fear & the anxiety that continuously plague my life; it feels like it never stops. There are days where I can say that it isn’t that bad, that the trauma I put myself through is something that I can deal with, something I can handle. Then, there are the days where I wake up dreary eyed & filled with unfathomable sadness. I drag my feet to the bathroom, my stomach lurches & aches, & horrible recollections begin pulsing through my brain. Over & over again.

It was supposed to get better with time. It has been almost three years. Life was supposed to get easier. I’m sober, for God’s sake! Isn’t that good enough?

The reality of all this, the painful realization that has embedded itself into my brain, is that it doesn’t get any easier. It gets harder. In active addiction, you learn how to mask the emotions & the feelings through drug & alcohol use. You numb yourself to the point where nothing really hurts you anymore. You’re just there, barely living, & your body & psyche adapt to it. You don’t really have to deal with all the hurt in your life because the chemicals do it for you. Take those chemicals away & there is nothing left but you. So you have to learn how to handle it. You have to pick yourself up & fight through the things that you didn’t want to fight through before. I know, It sucks. I’ve been doing it for going on three years now.

It’s not easy, but I think that’s where the beauty of it all lies. The beauty of recovery is where your unacknowledged pain is, where your forgotten sorrow lives. You can either take those traumatic elements & use them to shape yourself into a better you, or you can leave them there. You can leave them there & ignore them, until they come back up & next thing you know, you’re using again. Deal with what you need to deal with & keep fighting, because it’s worth it. You are worth it.

It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks about you or says about you. What matters is what lives within your heart & what you think and say about yourself. That’s what is most important. Look around you & make a mental list of the things that you are grateful for today. Remember how painful it would be to lose it all. Addiction is life or death, it’s shown its ugly face time & time again. It has taken valuable people in society.

Don’t let addiction win. It’s your choice.

 

Do It Because You Have To

I remember that night so vividly. I hope that I never forget it, because forgetting means losing sight of where I’ve been & how far I’ve come. I was on my way to a year long rehab & I was terrified. My bags were packed neatly beside me, my little girl in the backseat, my mother driving. I remember the way my hands shook when I got out of the car, the cold winter air hitting my cheeks. I remember the sound of the snow underneath my boots & the way my daughter’s hand felt clamped tightly to mine as I approached the back door. The old brick building loomed over me. I wanted to go home. I can still hear my mother’s voice behind me, her lips breathing out words of freedom and “becoming a new me.”

The people there greeted me with smiles of hope & encouragement, the director of the program ushering us in as she introduced herself. I took a seat in her office & closed my eyes. I didn’t want to be there. I looked down at my little girl, mustering up the energy to smile at her. Her face was twisted into an uneasy stare. “I’ve let her down too many times, I need to do this for her. If not for me, then for her. I can’t be scared.” I told myself this over & over again until my lips stopped quivering.

After I had been checked in & every inch of my belongings had been searched, I was shown the room that I was supposed to be staying in. A staff member introduced me to the other women who were going to be in the program with me. Every part of my innermost being urged me to run away, but I had been running away for far too long. It needed to stop.

I was told to say my goodbyes to my daughter, that I was not going to see her for another two weeks. My knees began to buckle as I knelt down to her level. Nothing could have prepared me for the pain that came when the word goodbye left my lips. Nothing could have prepared me for the way her little face looked after she realized I was leaving again. But I had to do this. I had to stay at this place for a year & I had to stay sober. This was my last chance & it terrified the hell out of me. Her cries echoed behind me as I walked away. I walked away because if I didn’t, I would not have stayed.

Now I sit here typing this, almost three years later. I have my own apartment with a man that loves me unconditionally, has loved me despite all of my faults and wrongdoings, & his little boy. My daughter is sleeping peacefully in the next room & you have no idea how grateful I am. I got her back. I got my life back. That program that I dreaded, the one that I wanted nothing to do with, gave me a solid foundation on which I am now building my life. The people at the program that surrounded me on daily basis showed me God’s love in countless numbers of ways. Every single one of them were a blessing that changed my world forever.

I don’t ever regret going. Not anymore. It was painfully difficult. There were moments when I found my strength fading away. In the beginning of my recovery, I spent periods of time locked in a bathroom sobbing, scribbling my daughter’s name over & over again in a notebook. The dread & regret from all of the things I’ve done to her & my family came rushing into my body on days like that. And then the withdrawal set in. But I sat there & I took it. I let it flood in & drown me until I could no longer catch my breath. I would bite my lip and count down the days I had left until I would be with her fully, tears rolling down my cheeks.

Why did I do it? Because I had to. Because it was the only option left. I had burned all of my bridges and I was alone. I was alone & I was addicted to heroin & I didn’t want to be that person anymore. I was on the verge of losing my precious baby girl. I had caused too many people unbearable amounts of pain & I don’t think that they could have taken anymore of it.

The point of all of this is that you do the things that hurt you most because you have to. You do them for the people that you love. You suck it up & you walk through the darkness & the journey ends up changing you forever. But only if you let it.

Person, Unknown.

Sometimes, when I find myself in places throughout this city where I used to stick needles into my arms, I start to get some extreme anxiety (as you can probably already imagine). All of the blood inside my body seems to rush to my head, my skin gets a really ugly shade of white, and my stomach starts to lurch. Not only that, but I feel as if someone is putting their big ugly hands around my throat and squeezing as hard as they possibly can. That’s what anxiety feels like to me, anyways. A more theatrical version of it though, I guess. It’s horrible.

Anyways, I was driving down this road and all of the buildings that were scattered beside it brought back memories of a life that I wish I could just forget. Vivid and horrible things that I had done started to rush like waves of guilt into my brain and I was completely consumed by it. It terrified me. Those big ugly hands started to squeeze tighter and tighter until I felt like I couldn’t breathe at all. I pulled my beige 2003 Saturn over to the side of the road, looked into the overhead mirror and kept telling myself what I always tell myself when it gets that bad. “If you can talk, you can breathe.” And then, of course, I started babbling out random things just to make sure I could talk and, to the people that were walking past my car, I probably looked like a crazed schizophrenic. But it helps me, so I really didn’t care. I took a breath of air into my lungs tried to get a hold of whatever peace I had left inside of me.

I finally calmed down.

I’m not entirely sure if I have PTSD or whatever other form of it there is. But I do know one thing. The girl in these memories or flashbacks or whatever I am having on these horrible but often occasions, regardless of whether I know that she is indeed me or not, doesn’t feel like me anymore. She feels like a completely different person. Like some other girl that looks like me and talks like me is stuffing her horrible recollections into my brain when I’m sleeping or something.

And I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not.