After years of substance abuse and suffering and living with agoraphobia, one woman finally found the strength to step out and embrace her inner light
“You got yourself into this. You get yourself out.”
It came out of nowhere as I lay in bed, in my usual position, on a cold night in early January of 1998. Had I heard this voice a moment sooner, I would have hidden under my covers. Something was different about this moment somehow, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.I just knew that I suddenly felt different. So different, in fact, that when I woke up the next morning, I drove to my mother’s house.
This was a huge deal because for the past two years, I had been agoraphobic.
For those of you that aren’t familiar, agoraphobia is when you are afraid to leave the house, something I had not done for a long time. But I went to my mother and ended up in a tell-all conversation, sharing all the things that were bubbling up that I had been concealing for the last few years. I said to my mom…
“I’m scared to tell you. If I tell you, I will have to do something about it. But I know I need to tell you.”
For hours, I sat and sobbed. I laughed. I ate. I smoked like a chimney. I shared that I had been out of control with alcohol since I was 15. I shared that after being sexually assaulted, I started drinking more. I had been smoking a lot of pot and eating until I purged. I shared that after my life-long friend was killed in a car accident when I was a senior in high school, I wanted to die and had thought through so many scenarios about how I could accomplish that.
I shared that after I lost my grandparents, my mom’s parents, only 4 months apart from each other, I didn’t know if I could take another breath. I told her that having all of these tragedies happen within an 18-month time span, I felt I was done with life… and I was only 18 at the time.
I had lied to my psychiatrist and my therapist and the nice people checking me into the inpatient mental ward about my habits. I couldn’t let them take away my only peace, the things that kept me totally anesthetized. Plus, I wanted to make sure they would give me meds that would fix me. And they did.
I was on 13 medications for the last months of my journey. Half of them were to manage the side effects of the first half.
No wonder my weight had ballooned to over 250 pounds on my 5’4 frame. I was so medicated that I could barely write my own name, so I had to drop out of college at my dream school. There I was, just a few months into my 20th year of life, when I found myself at a major turning point that had seemingly come out of nowhere.
I wiped the tears from my face as I stood up from the sofa to receive a warm, long embrace from my mother. Then I headed out the door and made my way to an A.A. meeting. I had been to hundreds of A.A. meetings at this point. I practically grew up there since my mom had gotten sober when I was 9 years old. But I had never been there for myself. I could have recited the 12 steps forward and backward, but not once had I applied them to myself.
That voice I had heard the night before had somehow embedded in me a courage and a clarity I had not had before.
So, I nestled myself into a comfortable, old orange chair in the front row, my hands warm from the cup of joe I held and my heart warm from the people around me.
I knew my life would never be the same. And I was right.
January 4th, 2019 was my 21st anniversary of being sober. In that time, I spent 5 years in therapy, many years with healers, reiki practitioners, and immersive weekends that were life-changing. I started living a life of service and always doing my best to make every person or place I come into contact with better than how I found them/it. I have learned that as supported as I have been, self-love is my anchor and being my own best friend — the foundation of my peace and serenity.
Some other key things I have learned along the way are:
- Time isn’t the healer, love is.
- Time strings moments together so that love can be woven into the fabric of life.
- Time breaks down eternity’s vastness so that love can be experienced in increments.
- Time lends perspective and wisdom.
- Love is the ultimate healer, the ultimate teacher, and the ultimate reason for living.
My journey has helped me see that even my darkest moments are what brought me into the light. And that voice I heard on a cold night in early January in 1998 ended up being my own voice. It was a higher aspect of myself, letting me know I had spent enough time in the dark.
Now is the time to walk on my own path, shining my bright light.
You may also enjoy reading Recipes for Self Love: Caring for Your Inner (and Outer) Feminist by Alison Rachel