Priya’s Battle With Addiction Blog Series: Part 12 of 12
Posted by Reboot
As a child of an alcoholic home, my self-worth took a hit at a very young age. I often feel, that it was the drinking and the drama I witnessed all along that made me retract into my shell. Often I felt not good enough as a child, because my father wouldn’t stop drinking. I was not clearly aware of alcohol being the problem in my home, but my gut always told me that every time he would pick up a glass of that golden color, bitter liquid that something bad was going to happen. I faced the drama head on for a long time, even though my mother would send us to our room or put us to bed early when things began to go out of hand. I would still stick an ear to the door and try and listen to what was going on. I’d sleep almost every night with a heavy feeling in my head and heart. I would go through bouts of fear, sadness and pain and never expressed it as my mother already had too much to deal with.
My father’s drinking lead to us leaving our family home. I didn’t understand why but I believed that this could be good for us. That his parents suffocating way of living may have been too much for him to handle and so he would drink but I was proved wrong.
I knew our life was different from that of my peers. They were always at ease and looked so happy, and I was always tense and unhappy. I started to feel ‘less than’ and never good enough from a very young age- always comparing what I felt within to what I saw on the outside in other’s lives. It was hard for me to make friends and talk to people. I was always scared of saying too much and I started to withdraw.
Well into adulthood I carried this feeling of ‘not belonging’ and it became a part of my personality. I always felt people knew my truth, that I was an unhappy person with a sad and difficult life. We didn’t have money to splurge, our home was not filled with love and laughter, I was slow at school and never participated in any extracurricular and my family never took exotic holidays once a year- I was what they would call “a loser”. This “loser” feeling stayed with me for a long time to come.
When I first used alcohol and drugs it was a remarkable feeling. I loved how the pain suddenly disappeared and I began to smile. I was smart and funny and confident and people started to like me. After a drink or a drug, I could pretend to be anyone I wanted to- for once I didn’t have to be me. I had found my fix-alcohol and drugs by my side, I was a sure shot winner. I also realized that, I was playing life all wrong. I was now doing things I had never done before, such as alcohol and drugs in order to belong and be a winner. Through my years of use and abuse the effect alcohol or drugs had on me made me push myself to do things I would have never done otherwise, small things like being funny by nitpicking on others to larger actions like trespassing into forbidden areas. Life was finally fun and I was cool!
In no time my acts under the influence started to make me feel less cool. After a night of insane escapades, I would look at myself in the mirror and wonder who I had become. Why was I pushing myself in this strange manner? I noticed I had an odd set of friends who accepted a lot of my insanity by labeling me as cool and that validated me pushing my boundaries. To myself though, I was lost.
Within 7 years of using and abusing copious amounts of drugs and alcohol, just to fit in, deal with some childhood pain, define my new self, be accepted in society and look cool, I found myself back where I was as a child. Even with alcohol, I was scared of talking to people, letting them know too much, I had withdrawn from society and would spend a lot of time on my own drinking or using, I felt not good enough and I felt I didn’t belong. I was once again the ‘loser’.
I was in a gloom of despair and started seeing a doctor for depression. Little did the doctor know back then that it was substance induced mood disorders and not clinical depression and I went on for another year with alcohol, drugs and prescription pills from the doctor. That one year is a haze, I don’t remember too much, no clear incidents, no memory of any joy. Just darkness and feeling of being numb.
In recovery I learned the most harm I had done while drinking and using was to myself. I had judged myself so harshly for things that had not been in my control. I had boxed myself in the loser zone and condemned myself to a life with no joy. It was unfair and out of poor perception. In order to work on my very low level of self-esteem, I had to start by accepting my life for what it had been since childhood and stop blaming myself for life’s challenges. I forgave my father for what he did- he didn’t know better back then and I embraced the child in me for reacting the way I did.
The journey from self loathing to self love happened faster than I imagined. I was told in the rooms that as an alcoholic and addict, I was not responsible for my disease but I needed to take responsibility for my recovery. I needed to forgive myself for all my actions and make amends to myself every day. I strutted through the 12 steps and I began to learn and love myself more. A part of learning to love myself was to learn and pick up some tools of self care. I was to experiment with hobbies, learn new skills, hangout with friends often and pamper myself with things that I like.
On my one year Thanksgiving, I actually looked myself in the mirror and told myself for the first time ever that I was proud of me. Getting more comfortable in my skin, I stopped looking to the world for their validation and approval. Over time I automatically began to get validation from what recovery had made of me and how my relationships with my loved ones improved. Working the 12 steps gave me encouragement and a feel good from deep within myself.
Today thanks to the grace of a loving higher power, encouragement and support from my loved ones and the guidance from our fellowship, I love myself and accept myself for who I am. I work the principles of the progamme in all my affairs and have been blessed with sweet rewards. I see my relationship with my loved ones flourishes on a day to day basis. At work I am more efficient and sincere than I was before. There is an element of sincerity and honesty in all that I do and I have begun to notice and enjoy life and its simple pleasures in a bigger way. All of this is a feel good beyond words and has really helped pump my spirits.
Priya is an Addict and an Alcoholic who came into recovery at the young age of 23. She continues to work a 12 step program closely with a sponsor and has been sober for 5 years since 2011. Priya lives in New Delhi-India and has a joyous and fulfilling personal and professional life. In her free time, Priya enjoys reading, listening to music, bake and watching movies. She strongly believes that for her to keep what she has learned in recovery, she must share her experience, strength and hope with other recovering Addicts and Alcoholics.