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If You Would Have Told Me 8 Years Ago That I'd Still Be Alive Today, I Wouldn't Have Believed You

It’s been almost 8 years since I found myself in recovery. Every year around the anniversary of my clean date I find myself climbing inward to reflect on what I’ve learned, how I got here, and where I want to go. My clean date is like an anniversary, birthday, and New Year all wrapped into one.
My first day clean was October 5th, 2011. I know, I know- no fronts. But a lot happened leading up to that point and I always start to remember around this time of year.
I didn’t come into recovery brimming with honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. As a matter of fact, I knew little about addiction or recovery until about a month into rehab. There’s an odd sense of freedom in the surrender that comes with finally admitting powerlessness over this demon disease that lives inside of me and an incredible sense of empowerment when I learned that there is a way to live with it sans the daily misery.
As a person who has a tendency to overcomplicate things, I’m going to make a simple list of things that helped me get clean and still help me stay clean to this day.
1.) You are not alone. I can’t say this enough. When I was deep in active addiction, I surrounded myself with other people who were also in active addiction because then I didn’t feel so abnormal or alone. Everyone else was just like me. Wiping the slate clean and starting from scratch was terrifying, but I just had to apply the same concept in recovery- I surround(ed) myself with other people in recovery so that I didn’t feel like an outcast. Someone once told me not to “unique yourself back into addiction”.
2.) Getting clean doesn’t mean everything will get perfect. Once it registered to me that there was a problem and I figured out that I was on the path to solutions, I thought that the clouds would part and the angels would fly down and present a brand new life to me on a silver platter. NOT SO. Recovery is hard work. Cleaning up the wreckage of the past is hard work. Living with a disease that wants you dead on the daily is hard work. But damn is it worth it.
3.) Nobody else is responsible for my recovery. This felt like a weird paradox since I learned that I’m not alone. It’s taken me a while to figure out that while I have love and support in my life and recovery (as long as I allow it), nobody is going to do it for me. I am responsible for my actions and re-actions.
4.) My worst day clean is better than my best day using. Cliche as it might sound, it’s true.
I’ve struggled a lot with my depression and anxiety since I got clean. Learning how to manage with co-occurring disorders has been a massive struggle and I still have days when I don’t want to get out of bed. But in early recovery someone once told me “You don’t have to be happy to be grateful, but you have have to be grateful to stay clean.” I have woken up grateful for 2,891 days and still can’t believe I’m alive sometimes. If you’re struggling- hold on. You are not a hopeless case. There is no such thing. And if nobody has told you today I love you.

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Hey Nikita,
I am so happy you have gone though all of this recovery and love. I’m super proud of you, thank you for sharing this with us. I hope your able to keep going.

Hold Fast, you got this.

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Congrats on your anniversary, and I am glad things are going better for you. You’re right. Most of us do have many things which we can be grateful for in lives even if we are not always aware of them. Dealing with depression and anxiety isn’t easy and neither is addiction for many people. For me, the mental illness part is the most challenging. I can be in the throes of the worst depression and anxiety, I never consider drinking again. In that respect, I have been fortunate for the past 11 years. What is troublesome are the feelings of helplessness which never seem to go away.

Hey Nikita,

First I want to say welcome to the forums! We are so glad that you are here, and so glad that you are apart of the community! I want you to know that you are loved, that your life matters, and that we believe in you! Your story is amazing, and encouraging, and I want to say thank you for opening up here!

First I want to say congratulations, to someone who is on the road to recovery, and struggling to find sobriety, I am so so so proud of you, and I mean that with all of my heart! And reading this has encouraged me so much, as I’ve really been struggling recently to honestly believe that recovery is even possible.

I want to address each point that you made in the post! 1) You are not alone! This couldn’t be any more true, and it’s so so hard to believe in the midst of pain, and struggles, and addiction! And community is so so important during this time! Now you have to be careful surrounding yourself with people who are also in recovery, because it can make the temptation harder, and you can fall into it again together! But a lot of AA, NA groups, they pair you up with people who have been in recovery for 1 year or so, to make it easier to relate, but also so they can be an encouragement!

Amen, on #2. Just because you are sober, doesn’t mean that the pain is going to stop! A conversation that I have with my mentor is about how the reality sobriety isn’t the end goal, freedom is. And in order to find freedom you gotta find the root of the issue, of why you are addicted to “x thing”, and that’s a journey and a process! And it’s hard!

Number 3 is true, but can sometimes be misconstrued that you are on your own, and you need to get through it by yourself! And that’s not true at all! You are right, nobody else is responsible for your recovery or your relapses! But you are not alone in your recovery, it’s okay to reach out! I encourage for you to reach out!

And man did I really need to hear number 4, because I struggle with believing that! My worst day clean is better than my best day using! It’s hard in the midst of addiction to believe that you can stay sober, that you can face another day sober, another situation sober. So some days are terrible, especially when you begin recovery, and experience any sense of detox! But it is so so true, those bad days sober are worth it!

To anyone struggling, reading this know that you are loved, and that you matter! Your addiction doesn’t define you, and I believe in you!

Hold Fast, You’re Worth It,

Love Always,
Monkey