So this blog is long overdue. It’s about my own personal experience and how life has changed for me.

Before I go into all that I have to speak about how unwell I got due to the effects of addiction. I’m going back over 10 years here and suffice to say I got very unwell. I was at a point where I was exhausted all the time, I wasn’t sleeping, and in fact I hadn’t had a good night sleep in years. I was so stressed that I felt like I was about to explode all the time and like I was just about able to contain myself. It felt like there was a pressure cooker inside me about to go off.

Where did all this stress come from?

Anyone who is worried about a family members drug or alcohol use knows what I’m talking about here. I was constantly living in fear and anxiety; fear of overdose, car crashes, job loss, arrests, it was a chaotic existence for me. Funny thing about it though, none of the things I feared actually happened. But we got lucky, many families experience all the things I had feared. Coping with someone’s drug and alcohol use is probably the most challenging thing any family can do. The goal posts keep moving, there’s no consistency and you never know what to expect. Anyway, I reached a point where I had to look at myself and take care of my needs. Starting this journey was really scary and progress was slow, but bit by bit life got better and less complicated. I realised how taking the initial steps towards change brought about recovery in my home and it’s been some journey ever since.

So what has recovery brought me?

The ability to talk! Now of course I could talk but only about superficial things, ask me how I felt about something and I would clam up. I was raised in a ‘don’t talk’, ‘what will the neighbours think’ kind of family. I remember being very confused about what I was allowed to say and do so it was just easier to say and do nothing. I am also the eldest daughter so I was often left to take care of younger siblings. Enter over responsible, care taking young adult!

Fast forward to my teens and twenties and I was someone who was afraid to speak up, who had no problem looking out for other people, but completely neglected myself. I completely lost my voice. Working on myself has changed that, it has empowered me and given me the ability to express myself and identify my needs. It’s now ok to speak my truth, the world won’t fall apart! Oh and I recognise that I am not responsible for other people (except my son of course!) which has given me great freedom.

A night’s sleep! This is a big one. I didn’t realise how badly I was sleeping until I actually began to get a night’s sleep. Because I am able to talk about what’s going on now things don’t build up. No more racing thoughts keeping me awake all night. Because I was getting more sleep I felt better during the day, which in turn changed my thinking, which in turn changed my behaviour. Because of all this my relationships changed and got better. You get where I’m going with this? Even the simplest changes can make the biggest difference. It’s a ripple effect.

Courage! By courage I mean I am now able to get past the fear and anxiety that has always held me back. Now it doesn’t mean I never feel anxious or fearful, it just means that I know how to ground myself to help me step outside my comfort zone which helped build my confidence.

Confidence! Well this was something that built over time, it certainly didn’t happen overnight. I can look in the mirror now and say ‘You’re doing well’ and really believe it. I am so comfortable in my own skin.

Living in the now! This is one of the biggest things recovery has given me. I’m not so worried about the future anymore. I just trust that things will be okay and usually they do work out. That’s not to say I don’t plan for the future on some level, I think everyone has to do that, but I don’t live in the future anymore which is such a liberation.

Spirituality! Not to be confused with religion although that’s okay too. For me spirituality means a deep connection with ‘something’ outside of myself, that belief in something bigger than me. Growing up on a farm I was always surrounded by animals and nature and I loved it. For a long time I had lost my connection with nature but thankfully its back. I always feel so grounded when I’m in the garden, on the beach or when I’m taking care of my animals. (I have two dogs, some hens and canaries!) Nature is my spiritual place.

Respect! Now this is a two sided one. Firstly I didn’t have any self-respect which meant that I accepted other people’s behaviour no matter how much it hurt me. I never stood up for myself which meant I often felt walked on. That’s changed! I also respect others opinion, I might not agree with it but that’s okay too.

Secondly I have a deep respect for anyone who is in recovery, in and out of recovery, around recovery and basically anyone who just keeps trying, it takes a certain type of strength. I also respect family members who don’t give up on their loved one, no matter what, but are able to take care of themselves even though their family member is still abusing substances.

So, all in all, my journey has been pretty cool, challenging at times but good and the best thing is it isn’t over yet!

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