As my life evolves into something I could never have imagined even a year ago, I truly am thankful everyday for the life I created for myself. I knew that I deserved more and I always knew that I was destined for something far better than the way I was living. I remember biking to the hood to get my drugs thinking that this can’t be my life forever and that if I created a life worth living I would never want to go back to drugs. Drugs will always be there if a person chooses to go back, for me it was, get clean, get a plan and let me really focus on what is important to me, where I want my life to go, and what I have to do to get there. Everything I do during my days now are always striding towards my end goals. I work, work, work, do my homework for school and am constantly focused on my recovery.
This time last year, COVID had taken over the world, we were “safer at home” and I was biking to the inner city to score drugs. I knew that was what I had to do at the time because my addiction didn’t allow me to do anything else. I always just wanted to feel better and just have the obsession lifted, I knew that it could and would happen someday if I kept trying to get clean. I overdosed once in 2019 and that scared me straight for nine months, but then in 2020, I overdosed three times and I just kept using. I should have been dead four times for sure, if not countless more times where I just got lucky. A person doesn’t realize what the life of heroin addiction is like. Being sick everyday, and the only way to feel better that day is to poison ourselves with heroin, almost to the point of overdose but always trying not to die.
Looking back on what I went through everyday and how exhausting it was trying to maintain that lifestyle, I feel like I really am capable of doing anything I set my mind to. If I was willing to do the things I did for heroin, and the energy that was put into making sure I could use everyday, I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. I always used to say, “if we put half of the energy we did to use everyday, into anything else, we would be unbelievably successful.” Just half of the energy, think about that. The other quote I used to say to myself and other people was “I wouldn’t wish being dope sick on my worst enemy.”
Once I got detoxed and figured out what I wanted to do with myself, I started thinking about those quotes. If I wouldn’t wish being dope sick on my worst enemy, why was I putting myself through that everyday? Treating my mind and body so horribly for so long was hurting me, everyone around me and was definitely holding me back from a nice future. I never knew what my life would consist of and that was part of my personal issue with life in general. I just did not know who or what I wanted to be. I just felt so out of place and like I could do anything but didn’t fit anywhere. Life has an amazing way of working out if you just continue to live, it’s that whole dying thing that fucks shit up. I always said if I can just get out of this alive, I could do something with my life. Just getting out of it was the hardest thing I ever did and everyday is a reminder of where I once was. I never want to go back and that is where my other quote comes into play. I am lucky I have an exorbitant amount of energy and now with a focus, I just grind towards my goals everyday.
With everything that I do everyday building towards my short term and long term goals it has been a great experience finding myself again and truly working towards being the best version of myself everyday. I saw my doctor recently and he said it again, “the opposite of addiction is connection.” The connections you build with other people, things you do and places you go is just the start. The biggest connection a person has to make is within themselves. Figuring yourself out and being true to yourself is the best advice I can give a person early on in recovery. Only at the point of figuring out who you are can you begin to heal. We all have gone through crazy things in life and at the ages that most of us are, life has definitely taken its toll. I always say though, it isn’t what happens, but how you deal with it that matters.
Now days I still go through a lot of trials and tribulations and life happens everyday. I still deal with a lot when it comes to being able to see my son, the stressors of school and work, and just everyday life. I just don’t let anything knock me off my square. I face everything head on, I am open and vocal about what I am dealing with and I use much better coping mechanisms than I used to. Drugs technically isn’t coping, it is avoiding and masking, so that never helps anything. Drugs only magnify the issues that are already there and has a way of creating new ones. I tend to break out in handcuffs and that never ends well. Now it is different though, I have great friends and family to turn to, many different recovery skills, and I view life in such a different way than I used to. This really allows me to deal with anything that comes my way and feel confident that I am doing the right thing.
Being who I am today and where I am in life right now is truly a miracle and I am thankful everyday that I got out of that life. I just did my first bike race in about 20 years and it went amazingly well for a guy that had a needle in his arm at this time last year. I actually did well in general, but it definitely would not have been possible at all if I was still using. Getting back into bike racing and doing other things that I used to do before the drugs took over my life has been so rewarding. Now I can’t wait for the next race and really just enjoyed feeling like I was finally living life again. Drug addiction is not living, it is like being in a prison of the mind and it is like being forced to do something you don’t want to do everyday no matter what. I finally feel like I am living again and I honestly couldn’t be happier right now.
I am so ahead of where I thought I would ever be and the fact that I am right in the middle of so many things only 6 months after getting clean for the last time is a true testament to my drive and desire for a better life. I started using heroin in 2008 and by 2008 I wanted to quit. That is the truth of the matter, and the first time I actually tried to get clean for real was 2011. Even after really wanting to get clean over the next 5 years I would be in and out of jail and rehabs like a revolving door. Friends dying continuously and their friends would ask me where they got the dope because it must be good. Such a convoluted thought process we have as heroin users, if someone dies it must be good, and we want to try it. How about it just killed my friends, I should probably stay away from that batch and all batches for that matter. From 2016 until the end of 2020 when I got clean finally I had been clean longer than I used for but as a chronic relapser I just could never say never again and I seemed to always fall back into the cycle. The craziest thing for a drug user is when they quit and go back; very quickly do they end up right where they left off, if the first use doesn’t kill them like it did two of my really good friends. RIP Swiss & Pat.
Always wanting to get clean but never truly knowing how to stay clean was always my biggest issue. I could go to detox or detox myself once or twice a week but after a few days “the obsession” (read same title) would be too overwhelming and I would feel like I had to use. I remember trying to fight the obsession and literally wanting to knock myself out just to get relief for a few minutes where I didn’t have to be in my own body or mind. I don’t know how it exactly works but once the obsession lifted finally, I closed the door on that forever. I can finally say never again, I have no reservations about using, and I created a life for myself that I do not want anything to ever interfere with.
Life is not perfect and some days are stressful and tiring but the worst day in this life is better than the best day in addiction. Some people say they wouldn’t change what they went through because it makes them who they are today and they are able to use their experiences to help other people. Well, I am one of those people, but it couldn’t be more true. I sometimes wish that I didn’t waste 13 years doing heroin and another 2 years before that doing cocaine because no one should ever have to go through that. Not only because I never deserved doing that to myself, but 15 years is a long time to not be productive and moving forward. But it led to the life I have today, with the people I have in it and the things that I am doing, and going to be doing, so was it a waste…
I guess it depends on what I do with my future. If I stay on my goal train and the path that I am on, then the sky’s the limit. If I think I can use it just one time or think I can use it successfully this time, then it all goes away. The cliche NA line, 1 is too many, 1,000 is never enough. That is the reality of it and couldn’t be more true. I never lose sight of where I want to be and I definitely never forget where I came out of. My tomorrow looks fulfilling and my future looks bright. Better get them new sunglasses. Progress not perfection. I live by that mantra everyday. I never will be perfect but I can always be better.