When I came into the rooms of recovery I was simply looking for a way to stop the insanity of having to drink and use even when I didn’t want to.
All I cared about was staying alive, which was not a guarantee for me, given the rate of drinking and using I was doing on a daily basis.
I was a train wreck – if my existence was a class called LIFE 101 I had definitely flunked it.
Hell I didn’t even show up for the final exam.
I was lost, broken, afraid, and angry.
Luckily I had managed to make it back after yet another “secretive” relapse where I had played out my one last final theory of how I was going to drink and use “like a gentleman.”
Spoiler alert — that final theory didn’t work so well.
I knew I was licked and if I wanted to ever make it to my 30’s, live a life I could be proud of, or simply avoid a life behind bars; I needed to drop my ego, get honest, and work the damn steps of the 12 step fellowships of my choice.
I didn’t know what the result would be if I did those things – but the fear of change no longer outweighed the fear of pain so I was finally willing.
I had bounced in and out of the rooms for some time – well let me clarify – my SOBRIETY bounced in and out of the rooms – I stayed; but I took “dirty” tokens, worked “dirty” steps, and held “dirty” commitments.
Anyways, when I saw someone had truly “gotten it” there would be that glimmer in their eyes, an obnoxiously frequent chuckle, and a sense of ease about them that I could never find unless I was totally loaded beyond approach.
“How the hell can they be so free to be themselves?” I would wonder in disgust.
Having those same qualities seemed like such a far away goal for me – all I wanted to do was be able to fall asleep without having to drug myself into a stupor and pass out.
Fortunately I finally found my GOD in 2013 – the “Gift Of Desperation” – I was finally able to do all the things I knew I needed to do to save my sanity and my life.
I quit my job, moved all my possessions into storage, went to treatment for 4 months where I got honest, and I actually worked on myself for the first time.
I finally had the courage to face my core issues.
Once I transitioned out of treatment I worked all 12 steps; I got into the solution instead of wallowing in the problem.
Slowly but surely I started to feel a little bit better about myself.
Slowly but surely my sense of self-hatred and loathing started to ease up.
Slowly but surely my need of validation from others started to disappear.
Slowly but surely I was recovering and I didn’t even know it.
Slowly but surely I was given a gift I don’t think I ever possessed, even as a child – the gift of self-worth.
It’s so clear to me now how not having any sense of an identity or value even from a young age plagued me my entire life and led me down the path towards active addiction.
My self-worth was based on what other people thought of me so I was doomed to a life of seeking attention to feel good about myself.
I didn’t care if it was positive attention or negative attention – I just wanted you to notice my existence.
Thus came a pattern of changing what my identity was based on every few years – as a child my identity was based on positive things, but things quickly changed in my teenage years and my identity turned to be dark and negative as my self-loathing started to consume me.
My lack of self-worth led me to a life of self-sabotage because intrinsically I wouldn’t allow myself to have anything nice.
In my core and my unconscious I didn’t feel I deserved anything positive so I wouldn’t allow myself the joy or success that I should have experienced.
I was like that farmer at the market with his apples for sale.
I would set my apple cart up oh so nice – each apple individually polished, each blemish hidden, forming a perfect pyramid that was sure to attract countless customers.
I would finish all my hard work, step back, admire it….then kick the wheels out from underneath it, sending my apples flying!
I couldn’t explain why I would do this – but every few years I would kick the wheels out from beneath me and my life.
My low self-worth would re-surface time and time again – yet I would fail to recognize what was going on.
No, I embraced all of my self-sabotage because I got to feel like a victim.
Feeling like a victim would allow me to sit in self-pity, allow me to feel sorry for myself, then allow me to feel entitled to do whatever I needed to do to make myself feel better (more often than not continue my self-sabotage with drugs and alcohol).
It was a viscous cycle.
Well as I mentioned before, as a result of surrendering to my addictions, as a result of working the 12 steps, as a result of having a spiritual awakening, I was given a sense of self-worth.
That gift – and for me it is a gift – has completely changed my life.
I allow myself to have positive things in my life today, I allow myself to have a unique sense of identity not contingent on something or someone, I allow myself to not be constantly seeking validation from others.
I didn’t know I was going to be given self-worth when I returned to the 12 step fellowships I choose to attend.
I should have known after seeing countless miracles with people achieving TRUE recovery, but I was blind to the idea of it ever happening for me.
Now, it wasn’t like I just woke up one day and BOOM! my self-worth suddenly appeared.
No, it was a process in which my esteem-able acts and work of the 12 steps started to add up.
Slowly but surely it developed and continues to develop, so long as I am spiritually fit and making my recovery a priority in my life.
Slowly but surely I am started to accomplish things I never once thought I would ever do as I no longer self-sabotage.
Slowly but surely I am living that life I can be proud of as I no longer need validation from others.
Slowly but surely my gift of self-worth allows me to avoid toxicity in my life.
Slowly but surely…I am recovering.
Marv is 30 years old and has been clean and sober since June 22, 2013. He lives in southern California and can be found at www.onerepatatime.net.