I wanted to sit down and write something about how I am feeling today – 17 years after waking up in the hospital – 17 years of being cocaine-free. After my vlog earlier, I needed some inspiration and started reading what I wrote on this day last year. Wow. Yep, I want to say that, again. ~ Michelle
***Originally published on www.butterflyconsultations.com on October 19, 2016***
There is a wonderful quote from Captain B. McCrae in the movie Wall-e that pretty much sums up my attitude about well, everything.
“I don’t want to survive! I want to live!”
Sixteen years ago today, I almost didn’t do either. Waking up in a hospital, in a locked room with nothing on the walls and a camera monitoring my every move, my wrists bandaged and the remnants from my last big cocaine binge still swirling around my head, I didn’t even want to do either. I had done it – finally hit my bottom.
Addiction doesn’t just change who you are, it stops you from becoming the person you were meant to be.
I had always known that I was meant to be more than I was but through the cycles of poverty, neglect, abuse and addiction, I didn’t know who that person was and I certainly didn’t believe that I deserved anything better than what I had. Addiction doesn’t just stop you from feeling, it also stops you from dreaming. Survival is often the most you can hope for and all too often impossible to attain. I was lucky – I did survive.
The last 16 years since that day in Thompson Manitoba have been a roller coaster that is for sure. Learning about myself in ways I could never imagine – discovering that my addiction was masking a mental illness I had my whole life and never knew about, learning how to understand and cope with that illness, how to incorporate it into my life. I had to learn the difference between healthy relationships and destructive ones, how to cope with death, trauma, humiliation – all without losing myself in a drug that almost destroyed me. There was so much to learn, skills that make the difference between surviving and actually living, because there is a difference and that difference is huge.
So as I sit here, 16 years drug free today I am overwhelmed with the changes I have seen in myself which have undeniably transferred to changes in my life and everyone around me. Sixteen years ago I could barely imagine survival and now I live life to the fullest and take not a moment of it for granted and as I am reflecting on the lesson I have learned about life and living I wanted to share them with all of you.
- Life is fleeting, it can be short. There are no guarentees. We don’t know when our time is up, when we will lose someone we love or they will lose us. I remember my late husband telling me all of the things he wanted to do one day. And then at the age of 40, he was gone. Never did one thing he dreamed of assuming there would always be time. There wasn’t. So I don’t wait. If there is something I want to do, a dream I want fullfilled, the time is now. There may not be a tomorrow and I never ever want to be on my death bed (again) and think, ‘If only I…’ or ‘I wish I would have..’ – that is not living. I want to live.
- If something or someone is detracting from your enjoyment of life, change it or lose it. A friend that always depresses you? A toxic family member making you feel bad about yourself? A relationship or spouse causing more tears than smiles? Dreading going to work in the morning? Feeling unhealthy? Don’t like the reflection in the mirror? None of these things are beyond your control. Change it, lose it, do whatever you have to do so that the majority of your interactions contribute to a fullfilling life instead of detracting from it. Guilt and obligation have no place in living. Choosing to surround yourself with people or things that make you unhappy makes absolutely no sense at all so don’t do it.
- First things First. In my early days of cleaning up, there was no Narcotics Anonymous so I practically lived at the local AA club, terrified I would go back to drugs. Never even had a sip of alcohol for 8 years out of fear it would lead me straight back to cocaine. There was a sign hanging there that said First Things First – took me years to understand it but what it means to me today is that I have to take care of myself first. My body, my spirit, my mind because without them, I am no good to anyone and the people I love deserve the best of me, not the worst, always. I am a priority in my own life. I have to be. Always.
- Money is meaningless. Seriously. It comes and it goes, there will never be too much and too often there will never be quite enough. It is fluid, it is always changing so it isn’t worth stressing over. If you need more, spend less or earn more. If you need a better job, work harder, get educated, ask for help. Money is a means, it isn’t the end itself and you are in complete control of how much you have and how much you spend – what is there to stress about? It is true that money can’t buy happiness but it can buy choice and the more choice you have in life, the easier it is to live. Money isn’t magic, it is math so learn about it, talk about it and stop giving it your power or treating it as evil. Control it and use it to enhance your life not detract from it, and don’t ever use it as an excuse, you can do and have anything you are willing to work for. That’s the great thing about money – you can always get more through work, there is no limit.
Ok that is enough rambling and enough reflection. It’s time to go to work and start living the next chapter of this wonderful wonderful life that I am so utterly grateful to be living.
*Picture courtesy of Pixar