Updated: 3 days ago
I often look back, recounting my life in utter disbelief of the things I’ve achieved and thrown away in some sort of perpetual cycle for a long time believing it was some form of moral failing or defect of character that somehow rose me to mountain tops and took me to gutters, yet as with most times I've found my self in the gutter somehow through family and friends my higher power has pulled me back up and given me means to achieve the impossible and rebuild my life, the most recent of which has been a battle with Drugs, Alcohol, Sex and love and how the combination of it all drove me to a point of utter psychosis, robbing me of my life, my family, my friends and at the time the woman I loved and the family I adopted. Yet it brought me to recovery, and in doing so saved life giving me a passion and purpose to life that I’ve never expected.
To provide some background I was born into a loving family despite some medical complications requiring an abortion which thankfully failed I came into this world as inquisitive as any other child and as I recently came to learn an addict, a year later I had a drowning accident which left me mentally and physically handicapped and by some miracle, I managed to overcome it and although I had many physical developmental issues I had outgrown most signs and symptoms of the conditions by the time I started school although I still have next to no hand-eye coordination I’m for the most part a functioning individual.
Growing up I was rather shy and still am to some degree and learnt a bunch of toxic people skills in aid of being social such as people-pleasing and cultivating a desire to go to the extreme, and to add to my warped perception of social interaction I developed a porn addiction at the age of 12 bringing me to my grade 8 year when I got drunk for the first time to in the spirit of being part of the guys, I remember the feeling of being freed of my social anxiety finally for the first time I could remember feeling some form of acceptance and comradery, and as such built a persona around this, I became the rebel, the guy who could drink anyone under the table, and along with it all came hubbly which later progressed to cigarettes and weed by the end of that year. Within the next year, my drinking which initially started as a once a week social activity turned into full-blown alcoholism, I was drinking every day from sun up to sundown, I honestly couldn’t get out of bed without a drink and somehow I managed to hide it away while in the hostel but it all came to an abrupt end when I was caught drunk at a social and ended up getting expelled. And that was the end of my drinking for a while, a couple of months later I managed to get into another school, quite a prestigious one if I may add and it was probably one of the best things that had ever happened to me. Yet it took about 3 months for me to get back into the swing of active addiction, although this time instead of drinking I was using weed as a replacement for alcohol again waking and baking throughout the day until some of my friends at the time started getting tested and the possible consequences outweighed my desire to use and I stopped using until after school but we'll get there.
Yet despite stopping weed it wasn't long before alcoholism returned and I was sneaking out of hostel 3 to 4 nights a week to go partying at the local clubs, starting a little venture on the side selling fake IDs to fund my little habit. Despite it all, I still managed to earn some leadership roles in my matric year and managed a new legitimate business which I would throw away a year later and find myself virtually on the streets of Pretoria due to my alcoholism and addiction. Yet despite the failings and hiccups I only viewed my achievements and used them to fuel my denials. Fast forward after school and a general cycle of ups, downs, writing of a couple of cars and various addictions in between, I cultivated a series of no strings attached relationships which I kept discreet substituting my porn addiction and fueling my sex addiction draining my finances in the process to support my new conquests.
Then about a year before coming to recovery I was reunited with an old friend after her fiance passed away, and within about a month of her staying with me and helping her rebuild her life, we starting sleeping together and somewhere in the course of things I got lost in the narrative of it all, feeling the pride of being a father figure and loving partner who helped her back on her feet… Blinding me to her addiction and everything that went with it, our first couple of months were rocky a series of ups and downs yet till today I’m not sure if it was the Narrative or the lust that always drove us back together. I will add coming back to the toxic social behaviour I developed growing up co-dependency was a large part of it and when it came to her, I developed a Hero's complex trying to “Save” her and resultant depending on her success and gratitude to fuel my self-worth.
About 4 months into our relationship I discovered she was cheating on me and which happened during a braai and for some reason couldn’t find the courage to confront her about the topic so instead, I asked for some of what she was having and had my first taste crystal meth and at that moment I fell in love with my new drug of choice, at that moment the emotional pain was gone and I was social again my anxiety is gone and my mind “clear”, nothing seemed to matter anymore. The next day we broke up, that mixed with the depression of the withdrawals, it really hit me hard and within a week we were back together and had moved into a new place. And so the next couple of months my addiction to my new drug of choice would progress much like my others did, starting out as first only socially then only on weekends and finally every day just not during work hours yet this time I was standing in the carnage of my addiction, my life a complete and utter wreck, I was virtually on the street hopping from couch to couch of whoever would take me in for the night, fighting and emotionally blackmailing and abusing anyone who wouldn’t see my delusional point of view, All in the name of a woman I loved, much like my drug of the choice she didn’t quite love me back the same way. Yet despite it, all my drug-fueled psychosis blinded me to the reality of it all and somehow, I was in some fantasy world thinking all was well with me and the world was not ready for my apparent brilliance. God, the shit that came out of my mouth to this day still makes me cringe. Yet the reality was I was homeless, my family was scared of me and although they still cared I pushed them away.
Then a miracle happened, and I can only thank my higher power for the combination of a delusional state of mind, ego, friends and most importantly family. Who after 3 months of trying to get me to calm down enough finally succeed and staged an intervention for me and somehow in my delusional state hoping to prove my denials of not being an addict I agreed to go to treatment. It wasn’t even a half-hour later before I was sitting in the treatment centre, sizing up the staff thinking how to manipulate them into believing my apparent innocence, I was just about the textbook definition of an addict, every stereotype, every behavioural trait, but “no I didn’t have a problem I was going to be outa here in a week once the people got to know me”, And above and beyond that the paranoia was insane, I can’t even begin to describe the thoughts and ideas I had, Everything from “this place is just a fancy expensive prison” to “One of the other clients is actually a staff member pretending to be a client” and a whole bunch of shit in between.
About 3 weeks later I presented a partial excuse for a life story which broke me into tears and made me realize the depth of the bullshit I’d been telling myself on a lot of things and not just recently but that I’d been doing it for some time. It took about another 2 weeks and a couple of attempts at a life story before I started my step work. Probably the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life, I remember reading the first question “What is the disease of addiction to me”, and all of a sudden at that moment I just found a new box, named the disease of addiction, I could use to pack all my shame and guilt into and I did, for the first time in my life despite how hard it was to face the truth I had a place for all my shit and in packing it out and filling up my box I was forced to face a lot of hard truths and came to understand a lot about myself and the way I react to things granting a deepened state of self-awareness, destroying life long delusions and most importantly reconnecting me with my emotions, teaching me to recognize them and actually experience them both good, bad and everything in between. I’ve been devoutly religious my entire life but this process was truly a spiritual awakening on a whole new level.
Yet as much as the steps played a large role in my early recovery, they would have been meaningless without the guidance of the 3 counsellors, 2 social workers and 2 recovery coaches that guided me through the process, looking back I was a difficult client but all in all, somehow I got the right combination of people at the right stages of early recovery. Above and beyond all that the power of talking to the other fellow addicts in treatment with me as well as meetings only solidified it all and opened my mind to fresh perspectives on everything. At about 2½ months after originally walking through the doors of the treatment centre, I had completed all 12 Steps and was expecting to go home when I got the news I was actually staying for 6 months, and naturally, I tried to manage my emotions but expectedly blew a few fuses, calmed down and surrendered whatever self will I had left, rationalizing that the day I’m ready the gates will open and I’d be free to continue with life, I spent the next 2 months helping out around the rehab where I could doing everything from maintenance to cooking. And eventually, the fateful day came, Friday the 13th of all days, when the gates were opened and I was permitted to leave, and all of a sudden as much as I wanted to leave, I didn’t want to, the treatment centre had become my new home and its occupants my new family.
And so I took my first steps of true recovery, and boy did I take them slowly I was scared and anxious, not knowing what to expect I asked the family to give me some time and space to resettle in before returning to my business, which I did, and took the time to catch up with old friends and help my brother prepare for his wedding, which in its own was a magical experience, where before I would have been the drunkest one at the event I was happily sober, and still partied harder than most.
The months to come provide their own challenges along with a lot of rewards, besides stumbling a lot in the early months it only highlighted the need to return to things that helped me in treatment such as journaling and step work which definitely made things easier helped pull me out of an emotional relapse more than one time. Some of the greatest moments in recovery outside treatment have been the hardest to endure but it’s all been worth it, fact is we need the hard times to grant contrast so that we can be truly grateful for the smaller things in life and cultivate a deepened sense of appreciation for life in general, In the end a lots happened this last year and by comparison to where I was a year ago standing in carnage of active addiction, I’ve found a new way of life, one that gives me a sense of drive and purpose and has served as a template to rebuild all the relationships in my life most notably those of my family and friends whose love and support have brought me to this moment where I can proudly say I’m an addict every day, and as such I’m susceptible to all the hallmarks of an addict, the denial, the delusion, the justified rationalizing and dishonesty associated with active, yet day by day I make the decision to accept this fact and my past focusing just for today on the task at hand, and thanks this my family, friends and a loving Higher Power today I can say I’ve been clean and serene for 1 year."