“Welcome, step right in and follow the path!  STAY ON THE PATH! If you stray, everyone will leave you, you will not be happy, you will lose a lot of weight, you will give up on life, you will eventually die, you will hurt yourself, you will….”

As children, we grow up and receive lessons from everyone around us, but mainly adults. If you are raised by some decent humans, then you receive tools, set goal and learn right from wrong.  I’m sure most can relate to receiving lessons about what is ok to do and not to do while also receiving the lesson of consequences.  Standard right?  What about the things that aren’t standard for some?

At a very young age, I was taught the standard lessons as outlined above, but I was also forced to learn lessons that aren’t standard.  Lessons that break adults and cripple children.  Lessons that leave you broken because the consequences aren’t balanced.   I have been broken for almost 30 years.  What you don’t see, though, is that I am still broken now but things have been a bit brighter now-a-days.

At the age of 19 I stepped into a world I never thought I would have been in.  A world of violence, abuse, betrayal, pain, grief and even death.  Though I was taught from a very young age, by outside influences, that this world was dangerous; I entered the world as naive as a newborn.   The world?  Meth addiction.

I came to the door with the superficial desire to lose weight.  At 19, image is a very strong element to your psyche. Not to mention, living in a home where appearance was praised, weight was the enemy and insults were viewed as signs of love; I entered with a morphed vision of who I truly am.  This image of myself guided me to make many decision and battle with myself about who I am.  I can honestly say, I wasn’t prepared for what was to come.  After just one hit, I was an addict and this is when my world began to crumble but no one knew.  I was still working, going to school, getting good grades and playing the part of your average 19-20-year-old.  Inside my mind, I was at war.  At war with my insecurities.  At war with my memories of trauma. At war with myself.

For the six years of my addiction, the war inside myself was destroying everything that I knew as me.  Before meth, I was a quiet, shy, subservient child and at the end of my addiction, I was angry, violent and desensitized to anything outside of me. This wasn’t selfishness though.  I was desensitized by ALL I had seen, been through and experienced in life, as a whole.  I, however, was not desensitized to love, to others needs and to my family.  Even as an active addict, I would help my fellow addicts with money, clothes, food, a place to sleep, a shoulder to cry on and something to satisfy their cravings.  As though it sounds horrible, getting high with some was helping them with their body aches, nausea, vomiting, and pain that comes from detox.  It wasn’t the best help, but the intention was good.  As they say, “the road to hell was paved with good intentions.” I was not your typical meth addict.  I forced myself to eat after weeks of consuming meth and water.  I would force myself to sleep after being up for 5 days straight.  Anyone around me that was a user, had to bathe and take care of themselves, and if they came to my home unmaintained, I would have them use the shower, cut their hair and help them shave if they needed to.  I had rules to being an addict because I still held onto the notion that appearance was vital. Standard rule growing up…you could be something but you didn’t have to look like that thing.  For example, you could be a crackhead as long as you didn’t look like a crackhead.  Very brutal example but somewhat of what my reality was.  Some called me a “snobby” addict, others appreciated the fact that I was willing to help other addicts while being an addict myself.  I had addict luxuries. Somewhat of an oxymoron, right?  I dealt, so I had a steady supply of drugs.  I had my own place, so I had a facility to partake.  I had money from dealing and working, so I could buy almost anything I wanted.  I had street credibility and my family was almost the whole damn town.  I was “hood rich” and was, at times, willing to share the wealth for brief periods.  I was the Jerry Lee Lewis of the Roswell Meth world.  This status, presented me with many challenges.

At the age of 23 I was raped during a drug exchange.  6 months later, I found a great friend, murdered in her home by means of her throat being cut.  At 24, I had a gun held to my head while being robbed.   At 24, I had my door kicked in, beaten till unconscious and robbed.  By 25, I had seen 7 overdoses, 3 murders and suffered from my own trauma as well.  I was beyond broken by 27.  As I type this, the memories are flooding in and I have to pause. You might be able to understand why I say I was desensitized, now.

At 27, I had enough of life and wanted out.  I had lost everything because I had lost myself.  My sister was diagnosed with cervical cancer and I felt like my world was crumbling, but the reality is that it had collapsed years before.  I wanted to die.

Now, at the age of 34 and with 7 years of sobriety under my belt, I still battle with the aftermath.  I wake up every morning and go to bed every night with the memories of what was, what is and the thoughts of what will be soon!  I realize my progress and hold pride for my accomplishments, but the war that I won was a war that NO ONE WINS!  No matter how clean you become, if there was trauma before and during, there will be residual trauma after!  That is why I call my sobriety the aftermath.  You have to live in the aftermath to realize the battle you endured. To hold some pride for the accomplishment and put back the pieces you were able to find again. To rebuild will be more difficult than the demolition. It’s a “one hour at a time” process but eventually it will go to one day, then one week, then one month and by the time you hit “one year at a time,” the hard shit is done!  You’ve done it and now your grass can be a little bit greener!

Take your power back and be in charge of your own life!  Fuck what you heard!  You can do it.  It can be done!