In our own words: Stories from those who have been there and are determined to give back. Featuring contributions from the Avenues Recovery Family.
One morning it finally changed for me. For some reason it hit me this time. I had cycled through this exact detox facility multiple times, but this morning was the one I would remember forever.
I woke up, looked in the mirror and just said “Wow.”
There had to be a bigger reason, a greater purpose, for me. Skinny, broken, barely there me.
I walked down to the nurses’ station, downed that god-awful orange tasting medication for the umpteenth time and sat there in disbelief. I could not believe I was still alive.
But for the first time I felt something. I felt sad. But it was a good kind of sad. The kind of sad that makes you want to do something, change something. Walking aimlessly down the hallway, I bumped into a counselor. I didn’t know her well, but she must have seen something in me this time. Some kind of spark.
She looked at me and said,
“You need to find a hope rope, something you can hold onto and hold onto for dear life.”
This has stuck with me throughout all my triumphs and tribulations. For 6 years I have been clean, and I have been holding my hope rope. Sometimes it just takes someone saying something that you get, grasp and hold onto. I had been in therapy before, heard all the clichés. Been there, done that. It never took root.
For some reason, it clicked. It made sense. The fact that I was still alive, breathing and given another opportunity, I needed to find something to hold onto.
And for the first time I wanted to.
In recovery we truly only have one job; to not use today. One day at a time. They say it’s that simple. But with no tangible hope in the beginning to get through today, it can seem impossible. So you gotta find things to hold.
One of my hope ropes is positive perspective. Having a positive perspective has truly changed me as a person. My view of the world was once gray and dimmed by the despairs of addiction. Negativity creeps in and not using, even for one day at a time, seems more complicated. The feelings of inevitable defeat run deep, the guilt and shame weighs heavily upon us, and the little nagging voice inside us tells us what we can’t do. We feel like we can’t move forward.
I try to combat the negative thinking with positive affirmations and a positive perspective of self. I fight the negativity with the good I’ve seen. Thoughts of how many have shown me forgiveness, of how my past doesn’t define me and of how I know that I am capable of doing this.
It is a simple program for complicated people (ain’t that the truth!). When we make a choice to believe in ourselves, a choice of positive perspective of self, that is when it gets simple.
My hope rope… one hell of a concept.
My personal favorite hope rope is gratitude. Finding the gratitude in everything. Waking up. The sun. The wind. You see, in my active addiction, nothing mattered. I used to live and lived to use. There was no gratitude, no positive perspective. Just broken pieces of a shell that appeared as a person.
I found writing in the morning a list of things I am grateful for, while sipping my coffee, helps keep me grounded. There is so much crazy we can get lost in. Grounding myself to what truly matters is the key. Once I remember how grateful I am to be where I am instead of where I was, the miniscule problems of everyday life get just a tad easier.
When days get hard and I am feeling defeated I peek at my pages and pages of gratitude lists. They lift me up. I love to reflect back and see the wonders that have occurred. It’s a beautiful reminder of where you have been and gives you the ability to watch yourself grow.
It’s possible, it’s so possible.
Look at me. Once a broken heroin addict and now a full-time employee helping others and giving back. Once so achingly lonely and now a mother and spouse.
It has to be possible. Once you find that one thing to hold onto, hold onto it for dear life. Your hope rope may look different than mine, but there is absolutely always something we can all find to hold.
Recovery is so worth it. The beauty in this world is only truly seen through clear eyes. Thank God, the hope rope I have been holding onto has kept them very clear.
The beauty in recovery is worth all of it, every little bit. Where there is breath there is hope.
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