Matt’s Recovery Story – Where Am I Now?
What Could Possibly Go Wrong in the Blissful World of Denial
I first had a drink when I was around 7, wine mixed with water with dinner or a mouthful of dads beer and I liked it, it made me feel at ease, something I’d rarely ever felt before. By the time I was 13 I was using drugs and alcohol on a daily basis and loving the contented feeling they gave me, finally I was in control, I could go up if I felt down, down if I was too up, I could be confident when I felt shy, I didn’t have to bother finding something to do when I was bored because I could just sedate myself until something happened and most of all I didn’t have to face my emotions, I could live in a blissful world of denial, it was great, what could possible go wrong?
I spent the next 22 years living like this, I never questioned it and nor did anyone else even though I’d previously overdosed, regularly blacked out, got myself into all sorts of sticky situations and woken up in countless places I didn’t remember getting to, it was just who I was, I was the bloke who lived on the edge and seemingly lived the dream, I’d travel the world working whenever I needed to and partying my arse off, I owned nothing and wanted nothing, I’d try anything, I was brave, adventurous, always the life and soul of the party and always had a funny story about some kind of crazy shit that happened while I was off my face, it was all good fun.
The Only One Not in Denial
By the time I was 30, I’d emigrated to Australia and was still doing my thing but now things were different because now I knew deep down that I’d become dependent, I had no problem stopping drugs but alcohol had become my life, every morning was taken up with cleaning up bottles and restocking the fridge, the downward spiral had started and the next 5 years were to be no fun at all, my lifestyle to date had made sure I’d kept people at arms’ length to prevent myself getting emotionally hurt, my friends were scattered all over the world and it had started to dawn on me that I was very alone in this world. Anyone I told about being an addict would say something along the lines of, “Don’t be so stupid of course you’re not an addict you just like a drink that’s all, it’s just who you are”, I wanted someone to pick me up and get me fixed, I seemed to be the only one not living in denial, at this time I was a functioning addict, I was clean, holding down a job and paying my way, and to the untrained eye not a stereotypical addict.
Fast forward to 29th August 2011 and I’d completely hit rock bottom and stumbled into rehab, so there I was with my life and physical and mental health in absolute shreds I had no job, nowhere to live, no possessions, no relationships, I didn’t even know what country I was going to live in and that leads me to the title of this blog, who am I now?
My Recovery Story – Where Am I Now?
For me that has been the most difficult question to answer whilst living in recovery, from the age of 13 to 35 I knew who I was and so did everyone else, I’d put in massive amounts of effort to become who I was, I’d built strong defences so nobody could hurt me, I knew how to battle my way through chaotic countries, I knew how much alcohol and drugs I needed to get me through any situation life could throw at me but that was the problem, I had no idea what-so-ever how to live or how I would react to life without drugs and alcohol because I hadn’t done it since I was a small child, everything I’d learned in my live was learned using something and I mean everything, everything from dealing with a death in the family, my sense of humour, boredom, talking to people, watching sport, having a barbeque, controlling fear, being sad, happy, annoyed, angry, lost, confused, tense, relaxed, you name it it was learned whilst I was on something, so who am I now? Have I still got a sense of humour? Can I still do my job? Can I cry? Am I friendly? How will I handle stress? How will I react around people? Can I be happy? Do people want to know me? Where do I fit in?
It’s taken a long time to answer that question and I can’t sit here now and say I’ve found all the answers because I haven’t, if anything it’s raised more questions than there was in the first place but what I can say is sobriety has at least given me the chance to find out who I really am, I’ve found it very difficult looking at myself and even harder being honest with myself but the tools I’ve picked up along the way have undoubtedly helped (when I’ve remembered to use them) and although I’m definitely not full of self-acceptance I’m no longer so disgusted and ashamed that I can’t look in the mirror and for me that’s a big step forward.
So who am I now? Well, I’m just me, a perfectly imperfect addict living in recovery, always trying to run before I can walk but learning new things every day, taking life one day at a time and doing the best I can.