A Story of Hope. Matthew E. Avenues, New Orleans
Some stories are compelling, some are sad, and some are just terrifying. For whatever reasons people decide to enter recovery, there is typically only one end. When people decide to change, and they accept the direction provided to them, a whole new world of opportunity opens. They are freed from the prison. It is a relief. Many think they cannot change, and others feel like they don’t need to change, but we all can.
It was a difficult thing to hear. Those around me told me I was a drug addict. I would say that I was just having fun but even I knew that to be a lie. It had not been fun for quite some time. It was work. Every day all day I struggled to get what I needed to not be sick. No money and with the sickness soon to set in I became desperate. It would seem that with every passing day I would do more of the things I said I would never do. I can remember as a child saying that I would never be like my father, but there I was exactly like him with no way out. I was stuck in a place where I did not recognize the person in the mirror nor could I face him, so I ran. I ran where I always did, back to drugs. The only place I could feel comfortable and the place that caused so much pain. It is crazy to think of now.
I was at a turning point. The consequences had become too much to bear. I couldn’t change but I could not stay the same. If I continued, certain death lie in front of me but to quit was uncertain. Nothing felt safe. I was as desperate as I had ever been. I look back now with appreciation of that desperation. The consequences of the moment saved me from dying. For the first time I listened to someone other than myself. I got help.
We come to understand that help has stages. Each of them are scary at first but after that initial fear fades they become fond memories. Detox is probably the worst fear that I had. The thought of kicking dope was terrifying. I did not want to be sick. Have you ever faced something that you thought would be awful but once you were in it you realized it wasn’t that bad? That’s detox. The thought is worse than the experience. Then I moved on. Treatment seemed like I had failed. Like I could not make my own life work. This was the first honest thought I had in quite some time. My life wasn’t working. I was failing in a way that I would not be able to recover from. Yeah, I might be able to string together a few successes, but they would always end the same way overdosing, broke, or arrested, just to name a few. Treatment provided a real solution to the constant tragedy. I joined the ranks. Men and women of my age were common participants. We had the same struggle. They all had lived my story and in that we found strength. The counselors treated us with a knowing compassion. It felt like things would be OK. Someone finally cared about my feelings which I really never knew I had. I fell in line with the program. Discovery and growth became a mainstay of my life. Each day I felt like I had a little better of a shot at making it. I saw people come and go, but I stayed. For the first time in my life I would finish something I started.
Armed with the tools of recovery, I set out to face the world. The same world where for so long I had only caused destruction. My new life encouraged me to give rather than take. I was wary. How could I ever get what I want if I am always giving? With doubt cast aside I embarked. I followed all the direction given to me. To my surprise, it worked! Subtly at first then blatantly. At first all I got was another day sober, which may seem like a drag, but hang in there. As more sober days began to string together I started to realize that sober addicts get what they are seeking.
Have you ever thought of the life you want? I had, but felt as if that life was reserved for others. I never felt like I could have that type of existence. I was wrong. I made a list of things that I thought I wanted out of life. These were quickly obtained. The list grew and again it was obtained. Today, my life is at a place that genuinely shocks me. The most important pieces are the intangibles. My relationships, the principles by which I live, and the feeling of being OK are all things that I had never thought would be a part of my life, but they are. Tangibles are also a part as well. People like me will be able to connect with the amazement over these. I am a homeowner, I have a career where I’m valued, and I fish all the time which is a hobby from my childhood. I am getting married in a few months to the woman of my dreams. Life is good. I’d also like to say some things that I don’t have anymore: warrants, debt collectors, or drug dealers. For some this is just normal, but for us these are monumental achievements. If you find yourself in a desperate situation please know that there is a way out. There is hope waiting for you.