I’m Karen, and I am an addict.
There are many other things I’ve said in the past when overcoming challenges. “My name is Karen, and I am 100 pounds overweight.” “I’m Karen, and I’m an alcoholic.” “My name is Karen, and I’m a sugar addict.”
Eventually I’ll run out of things to say I’m addicted to until finally it’s abundantly clear that regardless of what I put into my body and allow into my life, addiction is addiction and unless THAT is addressed, I’ll keep reaching the same conclusion, or it’ll just kill me like its designed to.
Addiction is self-abuse, escape from the suffering we’ve endured and continue to allow in our lives, just by different means. We are so used to abuse that it’s like we’re being proactive and doing it to ourselves to beat another to the punch.
I deserve WAY more than that. I’ve got a good heart and God hasn’t taken me this far to drop me now. My life, my spirit, and my future is too bright to get darkened by abuse.
That is what addiction is – abuse. Some people are addicted to abusing others, some are addicted to abusing themselves, and some are addicted to both. It’s an endless, viscous cycle, and the only way to quiet that demon is to stop feeding it. Addiction is a monster that feeds off of dark energy and strives to see the bad in good situations, and it’s a demon that never goes away. It’s been said that addiction is a disease in which there is no cure. So, it’s something we learn to live with, and establish good and healthy habits to bear it. We don’t fill that void by replacing it – believe me, I’ve tried – we instead address the underlying cause and learn to deal with it.
A fellow recovering addict, friend, advisor, mentor and addiction recovery doctor put it to me in plain terms – we need to learn to love ourselves.
Once we fill that void by feeding it with love, we’re whole and perfect, with all our flaws and imperfections, because we’ve learned to acknowledge, address, and accept it.
Speaking of acknowledging, addressing and accepting, there’s something remarkable and miraculous at work here.
I did a count-down to determine what date to start the 100 Reasons to Lose 100 Pounds posts, and realized I better get it started on September 22nd, which was exactly 100 days before the end of the year. The intention was to write a blog post a day until I did all 100, leading up to the end of the year. So far, it’s going well, and I’m right on track.
The day before I started the project, something told me to post this video, in which I speak about acknowledging something, and by being aware of it, we become conscious of things that we may perceive as “bad”. Before trying to change something, first we have to acknowledge it.
Before I even realized what I was doing, I was begging for recovery. I had awareness that the 100 Reasons project was going to progress, and I knew that I had a problem, but I wasn’t quite yet ready to take the steps to address it. I keep hearing and saying that the advice we give is what we need to hear the most for ourselves, and by posting this, I was giving people permission to acknowledge something going on that they were having attachments and feelings for. These videos, posts, and all the things I share are the things I need to hear for myself, and I share them for accountability and hopefully to encourage people who may also be struggling.
It came back to me. Oh boy, did it come back to me.
The day after I made that video, I started thundering away at the 100 Reasons project.
Two days into writing the daily posts, I woke up that morning and when I said my daily prayer of surrender and gratitude, I asked God to guide me, because I thought I was going crazy. Literally, going crazy, like have to Baker Act myself. I told God that I needed help, and that I give my will to Him, and to have His will be done. Later that day I received a phone call that was clearly God’s way of reaching me in His language, in the only way He knew I’d listen – He sent me an addict, still VERY active in this person’s addictions, and I got precisely what I needed – abuse. I knew right then and there that I was NOT tolerating it anymore, especially by my own hand. After that call, I meditated, prayed, and worked on breathing again, because my chest was so constricted and I felt like my heart was about to collapse. I had to breathe. I was crying so hard and shaking so badly that I was holding my breath. It was like I was dying…but the addict was dying. The addict was trying to kill me, so I stayed calm, I put away the substance I was using, and I called a friend and asked if we could do lunch. She asked if I was okay, and I told her that I needed to be hugged and told I am a good person. She said she’s got me, and I said I’ve got sandwiches and was on my way over.
When I got to her house, she lovingly hugged me, told me I’m a good person, and we sat down and talked. She gave me the message I needed to hear, in the way the clean person needed to hear it. The recovering person was surfacing, but disease of addiction persisted. She told me that every time she saw me, I was fucked up. I asked for examples, and she gave them to me. When she told me of the many times she knew I was using, there were triple the amount of times she didn’t see me using. I kept saying I wish I could cut down, only do it at the end of the day, give it to someone to ration it out for me. She kept asking if I thought I could control it. I was in denial until finally, I said it out loud.
“I can’t control it. Holy shit, I’m an addict. Oh…fuck.”
She advised me to stay busy throughout the day, and to avoid using. I did exactly that – I stayed out of the house and didn’t go back home until that night. The whole ride home, I convinced myself I’d use one last time, to say goodbye. After all, I just re-upped the day before. I didn’t want to “waste my stash”. However, I knew my friend would kick my ass if I used again after I begged to stop, after I went to her for help, after she told me that I had a problem and I agreed that I’d get rid of my stash and get help. I owed it to her, to myself, to God to be clean.
When I got home, I took my stash box out of the house and took it outside, to get it out of the house and out of my mind. After about 30 minutes, I called another friend that I was hoping would be available, and when she answered, I asked if she could come over and take something off my hands. She didn’t even ask what – she already knew. When she came over, I gave her my stash and all the paraphernalia, and she graciously took it off my hands. I gave her everything. All of it. In the past when I’ve taken a hiatus from substances, I kept a few things here and there. This time, I got rid of EVERYTHING. Even the damn lighters that I had scattered around in places I’d used.
The next day, September 25th, 2015, was my first day clean, and I’ve been clean ever since
It started with acknowledging, and then by having an awareness, and then finally, acceptance.
I accept that I am an addict. FINALLY. I finally accept that this is a part of me, and like I’ve done with various character “flaws”, I’m taking the dirt off, buffing it up, and creating something beautiful and brilliant from it.
I’ve been sharing posts to my Instagram since Day 2, two days after I got clean, and a day after I spoke with my life coach and asked her if I should share the journey. She encouraged me to, so once I got off the phone with her, I started posting.
The objective is to reach 1000 days, make a wish and then receive it (I totally stole the idea from the 1000 origami cranes tradition), but now I know that each moment clean is a blessing, and every single day, each breath, and every moment is a blessing and a wish granted.
Every morning, my day starts with this prayer: I love my Jesus, I surrender to the Christ within. Thank you God for a new day, a clean slate, and a fresh start. Amen.
As I’ve been saying that prayer for over 7 years, I FINALLY allowed Him to take over. I surrender my will to God, for this isn’t about what I want, it’s about what He’s designed for me.
There’s a reason for our suffering – we will continue to suffer until we end the cycle of abuse. Whether it’s external, internal, something we have no control over or something we are responsible for, we do have control over our reactions.
If truly what we feed grows, then I want to keep feeding the good things with goodness, and acknowledge the darkness to bring it to light.
That’s the only way I can be sane. Recovery is sanity, despite how damn crazy we feel when we’re clean. It’s a hard process, and detox is a bear. It’s SO hard, and so many things come up. So many feelings that have been suppressed for so long, so many people that remind us of what our “friendships” were predicated on, so many hostile reactions from other addicts still using.
However, that vulnerability gives us strength, and I may cry, I may get angry, and I may feel victimized, but dammit I will stay clean and continue to work the steps to live a clean and sober life.
Just for today.
Easy does it.
One day at a time.
– Smash (Karen)
Also, this is such an amazing moment and I’ve loved it for years. It spoke to me before I really let it penetrate my mind, but it had such a huge impact on me <3
If this is something that speaks to you and you are struggling, please know that you are NOT alone. I never thought I’d find myself sitting in rooms full of “those people” – addicts, just like me. Now I’ve come to realize these people are me, and I am them. We are related by blood.
There is help. There is hope. You are loved by people you haven’t even met yet. We don’t have to know all the details of why you came to where you are, but we can give you what you need – community, acceptance, and a fellowship without judgment.
Addicts judge ourselves harshly enough, we’re not the kind to judge others. We know what it’s like to be spoken at, judged, and ostracized by the ignorant who misunderstand our condition, or who themselves are struggling and projecting their shit outwardly. No matter what, we are here.
Even if you just observe, listen, because a message you may have needed to hear desperately may be waiting for you.
With love, light, and healing grace,
Psst, I also talk about staying clean and sober and getting clean in my podcast 100 Reasons to Lose 100 Pounds! My 31st reason on my list of 100 Reasons to Lose 100 Pounds is to stay sober and stay off alcohol! I was 29 days clean when I wrote this reason out in its entirety, and I’m super, SUPER grateful for this amazing journey.
Today, I’m clean. Just for today. I’ll keep coming back 😉
– Smash ♥