I was picked on quite a bit in school because I was short in stature.
Looking back, I understand I was easy prey. I did not wear the same clothes, listen to the same music or follow the same "cool" trends as other kids. I was an outcast. I was different.
Home wasn't much different, with my older sibling treating me the same way kids at school did. The anger and resentment I had towards people in general was growing. I could not understand why I got mistreated. I never did any harm to them.
The result was I developed low self-esteem and had zero confidence. I was diagnosed as being bipolar at the age of thirteen due to all the anger building up. A year later, I found my first escape from reality: alcohol and marijuana. I would soon discover my dad's prescriptions for Phentermine and Ultracet and take them before and during classes. Occasionally, I would steal my parents booze in a flask and sneak it into school.
The warning signs of an addict and alcoholic were certainly there. I was too young and naive as a teen to see this was a problem. Alcohol, cocaine and pills would take over in my college years. I was focused more on getting wasted and having a good time instead of achieving academic success. After dropping out of college for a third time, I would soon be introduced to heroin and meth.
Drug and alcohol addiction is pure insanity... we do the same thing over and over, expecting different results. My rough upbringing, problems at home, loneliness, depression and failed relationships always haunted me. I could not learn to accept my mistakes or move on. I had a tendency to dwell on and live in my haunting past and thought using drugs and alcohol was the only solution to make it go away. In reality, it just magnified those memories and experiences.
Ultimately, I unfairly projected my anger and negativity onto others. I always had a “me against the world” mindset. Nobody was capable of understanding how or why I felt that way. I always walked around as if I had a target on my back. Everyone and everything was out to get me. I felt this way for a long time, simply because nobody has ever been in my shoes, let alone my mind. My mind would tell me I was just misjudged and misunderstood. The mind is the most frightening place to be when you are an alcoholic and an addict.
After I finally went into rehab and got sober, I slowly remembered how to live, laugh and love again. I had a better understanding of myself. My love for drugs and alcohol previously took hold over my love for anyone or anything else... family, friends, girlfriends but most of all, myself. I was incapable of loving anyone because I could not love myself first.
Stuck in the repetitious cycle of drugs and alcohol for so long, I knew no matter how hard I tried, I could not stop it. I had suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts for so long. I just wanted it all to end.
It did... but thankfully not in an early grave.
Sobriety vastly improved my mental, emotional and spiritual state. Early sobriety was difficult at first. I took a leap of faith and started a new life in a new city. I feared the unknown, as anyone would.
If there was one thing I knew, it was that I am resilient--capable of adapting to any environment and overcoming obstacles. I was resourceful and motivated enough to finally get my life on the right track. I was tired of failure.
Over time, my anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts started fading. My sanity was slowly but surely being restored. The dark clouds of my past began rolling away. I learned how to focus more on living in the present moment rather than dwelling on my past or worrying about the future. I became the person I was before drugs and alcohol took over.
Once I got sober, the universe seemed to work for me rather than against me. I learned how to be selfless, not selfish. I rebuilt bridges I had burned with my family. I learned how to accept my past, move forward and love myself again. I re-discovered my true self and purpose.
I was restored back to sanity.
**If you or a loved one is struggling with drug or alcohol addiction, visit www.yourfirststep.org. Their website provides a national directory for addiction treatment centers so you can find one that is best for you.