This post is by JR Patts, he is a self- described “addict in recovery”: exercise, bulimia, narcotics, work, codependency, etc. Although his life does not revolve around struggles and weaknesses, he says he believes it is defined by them. His dream is to help persons in recovery find the light and shine. He is currently working on his recovery blog (www.choicecollective.org), getting his license in recreation therapy, and getting ready to begin a masters program in counseling in mental health. He loves to write music and poetry.
One morning I woke up and thought, “It just isn’t fair. It isn’t fair that some people wake up in the morning and the first thought they have is fear. They fear themselves. They fear that they will fail. They fear that they are not good enough. They fear that others will reject them. They fear that they don’t belong. They fear that no one else understands. They fear that this is what they will feel every day of their lives. I am one of those people. I am one who is recovering from addiction, emotional illness, and low self esteem. I would pray that there is hope for people who have been down this road. I pray that there is hope for people who suffer in silence. My message is that we can set ourselves free.
Ever since I was young I told myself that I was unworthy and unlovable. I felt that I was blessed and cursed with an over-active mind and a sensitive spirit. I came to find that I avoided conflict, pain, and anger because I was scared of how it would make me feel. I was scared that I couldn’t handle it. Although I had so many feelings, I was so good at avoiding them. I had music, friends, sports, and a creative and resourceful mind, which all kept me from facing my greatest fears and uncomfortable feelings. Everything was “fine”.
I held on tight to this lifestyle and mindset, until college. With added social and personal pressures something snapped. I no longer found joy in the things that I escaped to. I was sick and tired of feeling alone and feeling broken. I realized how lost I was and that I had no idea how to feel accepted and to face my fears. I thought that being accepted was about doing great things and earning people’s acceptance. The more I focused on this, the more hurt I felt and the more lost I became. I found new ways to escape. I found out how to numb my feelings. Instead of caring too much, I decided not to care at all. I had no self worth, and no love for myself. I felt so alone and felt like no one could love me. How could I expect others to love me if I couldn’t even love myself? I felt like a failure and a fraud. Before I knew it i was lost in a world of addiction, a world where the only person that could hurt me was myself. I had a complex eating disorder, exercise addiction, narcotics addiction, insomnia, anxiety, depression, and other self-destructive habits. Although I tried to numb my anguish, the pain never went away. I suffered in silence.
The hardest thing about suffering in silence is that I wanted to cry out. I wanted to get help. But if people saw me for what I really was, what I had become, I would be ruined. Shame paralyzed me and chained me to a world of darkness, and I was the only one that knew that this world existed. If you were to ask my family, and what was left of my friends, I’m sure they would say something like “He’s doing ‘fine’. He looks great. He is in great shape. He is always so positive and optimistic.” The sad thing is that that was the truth. I did look like those things. I did look ‘fine’. Anything to keep them from seeing the real me. I would do anything, as long as people didn’t see how broken I really was. Little did they know that in reality I was crying out for help, “look at me, love me, accept me!” On the inside I felt so ashamed, so broken, so insignificant, so unworthy, and so unlovable.
It is my mission that we can all feel empowered to speak our truths, share our gifts, and support one another as we make the CHOICE of recovery.
My addictions gave me something to fight for, the choice of recovery. This is a journey from addiction to conviction. The truest of faith is found when it has been tested. I believe that peace and happiness are not far from where we are. If you suffer in silence, there are people who can love and understand you. YOU can learn to love and understand you. My heart goes out you. You DO belong. You are worthy, you are lovable, and you are worth it. You need not suffer in silence.
You can always make the choice.