When I finally found my way to the journey of recovery I had lost hope. Addiction had consumed everything leaving only a shell of the person I had been. It felt as if my life was over I had accepted my lot in life, Yet in that darkness, there still lay a glimmer of hope. I knew that I needed help and I knew that maybe just maybe treatment would work this time. I knew that I was finally willing to do anything if it offered me a glimpse of a better life
I see this gift of desperation in the actions that I took like entering into rehab, leaving my home in Virginia, and taking the suggestions that were given to me. I had hope that if I did these things then I could change and I was, in fact, right.
Hope is what makes 12 Step programs like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous so attractive and successful. A person with even the tiniest amount of hope can arrive at a meeting, relate, and have that hope nurtured and grow into faith and a new life. Or at least that’s my story.
When I got to treatment down in South Florida I was completely broken. My toxic marriage was over this was perhaps the only thing I was happy about. I was however 1000 miles away from my children, and the majority of my family was done with me. Being separated from my children left an empty space in my heart. Every day I was aware of this absence, it was a gnawing pain that never went away. Not being close to my children was the hardest part of going away. There were some days where this pain would threaten to consume me. I often questioned why I was here so far away. And yet the thought of going back to using terrified me enough to at least listen when my therapist and sponsor told me I was making the right choice by staying.
When I got out of treatment and attended my first AA meeting I saw what I had seen while in Virginia when I had tried to get sober going to meetings alone. People that had hope, they were genuinely happy and lived life successfully without using. This time, around I had a chance to stay sober I no longer had the physical dependence to drugs and alcohol. I also had the gift of desperation to continue to motivate me when I questioned my choice. When I looked around the room and I saw smiling happy faces and I wanted that in my life. People seemed to have a levity about them that was appealing and I had hope that if I did the things that I needed to do I could have that too.
Don’t get me wrong the concept of living the rest of my life sober was overwhelming, and yet somehow I knew that it was worth a try, that maybe it would actually work, and I would finally be free of the beast that had controlled me for so long. I still didn’t really understand what being sober meant, but I knew on some level that if these people could change then I could too.
I met my sponsor and my hope began to grow because I saw in her a woman who was just like me, yet she had overcome her difficulties. She helped me through the steps and I would vent to her about the things that were eating me up inside. I never felt judgment from her only love, acceptance, and encouragement to keep going. She told me to keep up my willingness. I remember one time where I was saying that it wasn’t fair that every time I made a mistake I had almost immediate consequences. She told me that I should be grateful for this and appreciate the immediate feedback as it would keep me doing the right things. Before I would have never been able to look at it like that. I would have gotten stuck on the unfair factor. I started to hear people telling me that I was changing. I remember the rush of gratitude I felt the first time this really sunk in. I finally was starting to leave the past behind I was no longer doomed to repeat my mistakes day after day. I really could change this was an earth shattering revelation for me.
Early on the changes were more immediate like being able to fall asleep and stay asleep this was huge as I had been an insomniac for so many years. You see I was finally starting to feel some peace in my life. My mind no longer raced at a million miles a minute. The anxiety was starting to dissipate. I remember my sponsor telling me after a couple of months of working with me that I had settled down, and I didn’t really understand what she meant until she explained. After getting out of treatment I was literally jumping out of my skin as the anxiety that I felt was so intense. I couldn’t sit still my body would literally jerk at times from the intense feelings that stormed around inside my brain. I walked around with clasped fists and tight shoulders. I had no idea how strong the physical manifestation of anxiety had been for me until she pointed this out. It was amazing to realize that I was starting to be free of this, it was such a relief to feel the tension start to leave my body.
A lack of hope is essentially an inability to see a future for yourself. I know this feeling it has at times consumed me. I would look at my current life and be see nothing no future just emptiness. It had gotten to the point at the end where I could not even see my children’s future because I had accepted I would probably not be alive for much longer. There were many nights at the end when I just hoped that I would not wake up the next morning because that was better than the hellish groundhog day that my life had become. Of repeating the same insane self-destructive behaviors over and over, knowing what would happen but not being able to stop.
This, however, today is not my reality, thanks to long-term treatment, therapy, and AA I no longer struggle with a loss of hope. Today I am an optimistic person for the most part, even when I am struggling, and life is hard, or full of the unknown I know that it is not permanent. That life is a circle a continuum that encompasses everything nothing really lasts forever the good the bad they all have their season. Perhaps this has been the greatest gift the ability to be fully present and experience each and every emotion. For how can one truly appreciate happiness without also having experienced sadness. Today I appreciate the good times I drink them in and let them saturate me. In the struggles, I have the ability to put them into perspective and persevere.
Not being able to envision a future is a reason why hope is the difference between success and failure. It doesn’t need to be a comprehensive sense of direction, but being able to see some type of future for yourself goes a long way in aiding the recovery process. I found for myself that being able to see that I could overcome my alcoholism allowed me to work towards the goals that were presented to me and it gave me strength to push through when things got tough.
At times I have to logically remind myself that things work out. I have to go through the past two years and pick out the scenarios I thought were hopeless and yet somehow things worked out. I have to remind myself that feelings aren’t facts and they do not have to control my life anymore. I have to forcibly make myself be hopeful and when I do this often I start to feel better because I am no longer focusing on the negative things in my life. It is so easy to get caught up in problems but when I can see past them and remember that there is nothing that I cannot overcome, my life improves.
So if are currently at a point where you feel hopeless remember looks can often be deceiving and you may just be at a point where you are getting ready for a change. Have faith that things will work out and step out on the bridge of hope no matter how afraid you may be. It really will be ok in the end.
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise the awareness about the disease of addiction. She has visited all over North and South America. Single mom to two beautiful children she has learned parenting is without a doubt the most rewarding job in the world. Currently the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.
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