Read Dana’s previous article, A Day in the Life of an Addict with PTSD, about her struggle with addiction.
Heading down a dark path, I’ve had my moments of crying, screaming and wishing I were dead. Moments of remembering it all, trying to take it all back and drowning out the pain.
I often think about whom I would be if I didn’t take the same path; if I didn’t make the same choices.
What if I hadn’t chosen this career? What if I hadn’t seen the things I’ve seen or endured the trauma and the pain that I have? What if I hadn’t self-medicated? Who would I be today?
Would I be a better person? Would I be less damaged? Or would I be dead? I’m not sure and I will never know.
I didn’t choose the things that happened to me, but I did choose what to do about it afterwards. Sometimes, in the heat of the moment, we can make impulsive decisions that later need to be corrected. I made my choices for a reason. I may not ever understand what those reasons were, but I own those choices. I think making the corrections later ultimately makes us stronger when we come to the fork in the road and start to change directions.
They say it gets worse before it gets better. I believe we learn to deal with pain only by experiencing it, and come out stronger on the other side. For some, this pain is too much and they never return from the dark side. My heart bleeds for them, always.
In dealing with my pain, I know I’ve made some poor choices. These choices have now changed my life. I’ve had to learn how to live in this new direction, but things will never be the same. That’s okay because I’m stronger for it. It’s made me who I am today. I can love, laugh, learn and live just as long as I remember my demons from the past and that they are never too far away. I’ve learned how to manage my pain and coping techniques in a much healthier way. I now know where to find help when my demons return.
I’d like to think my story has helped others not make the same choices, but ultimately I know everyone will decide for themselves which direction they want to take. Nobody chose my path for me and, at the time, it didn’t matter what anybody was trying to tell me. But there is help. If that’s the direction you are looking to take. Those who make it through the challenging times, show courage previously unknown to them. It seemed impossible for me, but I eventually found my courage.
I owe a lot of favors that can never be repaid, but people who are willing to help you change directions never expect anything in return. I think repayment comes in the form of paying it forward to someone else. Who would I be today if I didn’t?