Hi, my name is Doug, and I am a person in recovery. This is my story.
When I was 19, I got engaged, and shortly after she became pregnant. She broke off the engagement before the child was born and this absolutely crushed me.
Over the next couple of months, out of anger and depression, and fighting to stay involved in my son’s life, I put so much negative energy between me and my ex, that before my son was born, she wanted nothing to do with me.
The people I knew thought that I was a dead beat and, save for one friend, I felt totally alone. I started hanging out with a new friend, who used cocaine. Despite his warnings, I convinced him to let me try some. It numbed all the pain in my life. I felt awake, passionate, excited. This led to almost 10 years of drug use. It started out as parties and good times. By the end, I was holed up in my basement suite, with black out curtains, spending thousands of dollars a month on cocaine.
I knew I wanted to stop, and I knew that I didn’t want to live like this anymore. If there was one thing I had learned through all my interactions with other people struggling with addiction, it was that there was something about ourselves that we hated, or were ashamed of. For me, it was that I led my life down a path that didn’t include my son.
My recovery started with forgiving myself. It wasn’t an easy path. I have to constantly remind myself that I’m not that 20 year old scared kid anymore. He was lost. He was alone. He didn’t know how else to cope, and it does me no good to live in the past.
That wasn’t enough though. I was able to cut down to using once a month. I thought I had it under control, then I got cocky. My life started to spiral again, and I was right back where I started.
I hid from my best friends. I was always "too busy with work". I was so ashamed. My friends were proud of me, and I didn’t want to disappoint them. So I lied. I lied to the people that mattered the most to me, and who were always there for me. And that guilt pushed me even farther down my rabbit hole.
The last night that I did cocaine, I wrote myself a letter. It was about the things I wanted out of life, the things I didn’t need, and what gave me happiness.
Today, I am a server at a restaurant, and I’m pretty good at what I do. What makes me happiest are the customers whose night I genuinely feel I made better. I decided to extrapolate on that. What else could I do to make people’s days better? Once a day I do something to make someone else feel good. I’d tell bus drivers that I appreciate the work they do. I bought a customer dinner because he was the happiest most polite person I’d met in a long time. And it gave me this energy in my life. And the positive energy attracted more positive energy. I started to surround myself with other positive people, and doing the positive things they were doing. Going to the gym. Eating healthy. Leaving my house and going out and doing stuff.
Now I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I’m trying to start a business, and that’s leading to making even more connections with the people around me. I truly believe something I heard in a TED talk by Johann Hari, "The opposite of addiction is not sobriety, it’s connection."