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[ Personal Narratives ]

Why Not Me?

When I first found recovery, I was consumed with self-pity. I was in a constant state of “woe is me” and “no one understands what this feels like!” 

I have to imagine that, for the women who were so gracious to help me, it had to have been like working with a toddler. I think about the way I interact with my own daughter. How she hasn’t quite discovered that the world does not revolve around her yet, and why should she? She is just a child, after all. She doesn’t know any better. 

The same can pretty much be said for me when I first decided to seek out recovery. It’s as if my brain had been stunted, and I was still that 15 year old girl who pouted, cried and screamed in order to get her way. 

In my earliest days of recovery, I asked  “Why me?” on a number of different occasions. Probably daily! Why me? Why can’t I just be like everyone else? Why am I the one who needs help with addiction? Why do I have to be the one to change? Why? Why? Why?

One day, after about 2 months of this, a woman I have the utmost respect for, looked me straight in the eyes and said, very bluntly, “Why not you?” 

I was shocked, to say the least. I thought, “Who the hell does she think she is? Does she not understand that I am hurting? I thought she was supposed to be my friend!”

Sensing my bewilderment, she explained: 

“Why not you? What makes you so special that you feel that your life should be free of any sort of hardship? Bad things happen to good people every single day, through no fault of their own. Healthy people get cancer, a friend dies in a car accident, your parents’ house burns down, a friend who wants nothing more than to have a child struggles with infertility. Your illness has made you so self-centered that you believe you are the only person who is struggling at this very moment. We are all human, and hardships are not unique to you. You could be standing right next to someone, and not even be aware of the pain that they are feeling because you are so consumed with your own. So I challenge you to stop asking yourself, “Why me?” and start the humble process of asking yourself, “Why not me?”

And in that moment, I knew she was right. I had never thought of myself as being self-centered before. I just thought I was in pain and that everyone should feel bad for me, no matter how recklessly I acted. I realized she was the best type of friend I could ever ask for, because she helped me to recognize the flaws in my thinking. 

Humility is one of the biggest parts of my program today. It is the very reason I am so honest about my addiction and my recovery. It is important for me to understand that the world does not revolve around me. People are not put on this earth to make me happy, please me or give me the things that I want. I, like everyone else, need to work for things and work through difficult situations. I cannot expect anyone to change my life for me, I must start the process of doing it myself. Interestingly enough, that means starting with me! 

Today, I have women in my life who I trust to call me out on all of the lies of my self conscious. I need them to, because sometimes I do not recognize when my disease is playing tricks on me. I still have thoughts, like:

“You know, when the sun is shining and everyone is drinking their fancy drinks, I start to think maybe it won’t be such a bad idea if I have just one. I haven’t had Watermelon Vodka before, and it would just be a taste.” 

This is where a woman in recovery, often my sponsor, will say, “You know, that sounds like a great idea. Why don’t you go do that and let me know how that turns out? But before you do, let me just remind you what happened the last time you wanted to take just one drink…” Just like that, that drink isn’t so appealing to me anymore.

The same can be said for the good things that happen in my life. A lot of times, I am so disgusted with my past that I honestly believe I do not deserve good things. I get paranoid when good things happen to me, I have this overwhelming feeling of impending doom. I am afraid I will jinx myself. But why not me? Haven’t I been working hard? Why don’t I get to finally reap some of the benefits of my progress?

You see, we don’t choose to be the ones who need help with addiction, but we can choose the ones that will help us overcome our addiction.

This is recovery in action, and this is why recovery works for me. We help each other by pointing out the flaws in our thinking, and then we offer suggestions about how to better ourselves. We don’t sit in our feelings, we work towards a solution; TOGETHER. We carry the message to the next person and watch them grow and change. We start to believe that recovery works, no matter how far down the scale a person has gone. We come to realize we are no longer alone in this battle. 

So today, whenever I find myself in a mood where I am starting to ask, “Why me?” I very quickly put myself in my place. Sometimes I need to say to myself, “Just who do you think you are?” And sometimes I need to be kind to myself and say, “You’ve earned this.”

I am grateful for the growth I have experienced throughout my journey. Growth that could only have come from walking through the pain with the women who did it before me. And why not me to be the one to experience it? 

Vanessa D. 

Milwaukee, WI

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