“Withou tfriction, there is no growth.” I remember hearing this, from an ex Navy Seal, on a Joe Rogan podcast and this has shifted my perspective entirely. We all come from adversity and pain of some sorts. Growing up, in the absence of my biological mother, rejection defined me. At 7 years old I remember playing outside with my friends and rushing home because my mom was coming to pick me up. Mimicking the scene of a tragic movie, I sat on my front porch and she never showed up. At the time, my step mom adopted me but not even her love could fill the void. Inadequacy became the perfect foundation upon which I built my identity.
Throughout my life I never really felt “a part of’. I was a chameleon down to my very core. I would change shades in hopes of relishing in validation from anyone handing it out. Coming from a broken home, this idea started from birth. From my experience, love was very conditional. If I could transform myself into the perfect daughter, sister, and friend then I would would always feel loved. Unattainable perfection drove my despairing self esteem. My behavior and internal conflicts shifted with my evolving environments. As I started to get older, this pattern became me. I had the most diverse selection of friends. Each group would meet a very specific need in my thirst for approval. I lived to be alone in my room whenever I was home and isolation became my reprieve. My delusional perfectionism convinced me that I was utterly unlovable. My unhealthy perceptions and habits cultivated my love affair with addiction.
first encounter with alcohol ended with everyone falling asleep while I got sick and kept drinking. I have always indulged, excessively, in pleasure and pain. Over the next few years I “experimented” with anything that promoted oblivion. Trauma found me again,
and my stepmother passed away unexpectedly. My innate response was to completely numb my pain so I could take care of everyone else. Thus began my love affair with opiates. I had arrived. I felt untouchable, but in all reality, I was completely dead. I dissociated
from all of the pain, trauma, rejection, and abandonment.
I began isolating and eventually I created my own demise. Once the facade started to unravel, I was hopeless and full of a thousand forms of fear. The first person to validate that I was sick and not bad was a DCF counselor. Yes, DCF was now involved and I still couldn’t stop. With risks of losing my son, countless times I would cry while preparing to revel in my next fix. Tammy offered me the help I never knew I needed. Even in the midst of my addiction, I still thought this was a matter of will power. She explained to me that I had a disease, one that manifests in the brain. I remember laughing and brushing her off. Two weeks later, I was in jail and forced to face the reality that I had a problem. I was detoxingfrom opiates and I wanted to die. I wanted to stop, but I couldn’t. Standing in ruins, I valiantly checked myself in to treatment.
Upon entering the rehab facility, I was convinced I was a terrible mother, daughter, and woman. As I continued to surrender to the process, hope found me. I remember a specific group facilitator going into vivid details of what addiction is. He explained to the group that addiction is a disease, affected by environmental, behavioral, and even genetic factors. Physiologically the brain of an addict responds differently than that of a non-addict. In other words, the “normal” person can put a mood or mind altering substance into their bodies and after negative consequence will be able to stop whereas the addict can not. Scientific acknowledgement has played a major role in cultivating conversations of understanding rather than judgement.
Finally I felt like a burden had been lifted. Guilt and shame escaped me. The pain I was experiencing was far less than my fear of change. I came to believe that my pain had a purpose. Every uncomfortable and less than favorable situation I encountered prepared me for the trials I face today. At the root of it all, I was the scared little 5 year old girl that never healed the wounds of her past. Without drugs and alcohol, my resources were severed. Aside from the common withdrawal symptoms, I found myself struggling to eat, sleep, process emotions, or engage in any sort of vulnerability. During one of our self demolition sessions, I remember my therapist asking me “How much pain do you want to be in today? Only you can lay it down and start to heal.” In recovery, many people speak of spiritual experiences and this was my first encounter. I remember sobbing and yelling throughout the remainder of our session, unloading years of guilt,shame, and unadulterated pain. I slowly started to welcome the idea that I had complete control over how much I truly wanted to recover from a seemingly hopeless state of mind.
Today,I gravitate towards things that make me uncomfortable. I know that through discomfort comes adversity, but ultimately comes growth. I continue to seek ongoing PTSDtherapy and I am actively involved in my local AA community.I stay connected to the women I’ve met in sobriety. Some days, they carry me when I cannot carry myself. Sharing my experiences with other women struggling with co-occurring disorders gives me hope. Pursuing the things that set my soul on fire has been my saving grace. I have finally found my purpose and this has been the driving force for me to continue the good fight.
Tricia Moceo is an Outreach Specialist for Recovery Local, a local addiction/recovery based marketing company. She advocates long-term sobriety by writing for websites like detoxlocal.com,providing resources to recovering addicts and shedding light on the disease of addiction. Tricia is a mother of two, actively involved in her local recovery community, and is passionate about helping other women find hope in seemingly hopeless situations.