I Celebrated My Own Independence On July 4th

July 4th marked 90 days of independence from my 21 year dependency of Marijuana. Sadly, I really don’t feel it is a huge accomplishment. I have had numerous people ask me why I even quit in the first place. As if wanting to live without weed is just crazy!

A “functional addict” is still an addict

I also fall into society’s trap of believing it to be nothing to brag about since it wasn’t like I was sticking needles into my arms. I wasn’t stealing money from loved ones just to be able to afford my next fix. I wasn’t in the ER being revived from an overdose. I get it. From the  outside I seemed to have my shit together. A self-employed Mom with no criminal record who blogged on the side. I was a functional addict. There are many of us out there. Now let me paint you a picture of the deeper layers of Alyson Carsten. Let me explain what I look like from the inside…

I am a tangled web of emotions. Anger, fear, sadness, emptiness, guilt, shame, anxiety and lonliness are always just a memory away. They are my demons trying to keep me down. They often win. Using pot as a coping mechanism was just “something I did” for 21 years. It only worked temporarily. If it wasn’t pot it was food. If it wasn’t food, it was shopping. If it wasn’t shopping, it was cigarettes. If it wasn’t cigarettes, it was pills. I used them all for the same reasons, to cope with uncomfortable feelings. 

It takes lifelong work

Take note that after just 90 days clean I am not some “wonder woman” cured of all her shortcomings and inner turmoil. That is a lifelong process that never ends, because staying healthy takes continuous effort. I still have a lot to learn about productively managing my stress, I still have a ways to go to figure out this whole self love and acceptance thing, and I still have the rest of my life knowing that if I don’t stay a step ahead of my addiction(s) they can take hold and drag me back down before I can even scream for help. 

Once an addict always an addict

Addiction doesn’t go away. It can only be kept at bay through learning to live a whole new lifestyle. The drug of choice doesn’t make a difference when viewing the bigger picture. That bigger picture is where the addiction stems from. Though we are all unique individuals with different circumstances that drive us to addiction, the core reason is always the same. Addicts use their addictions as a method to escape and cope. Weed, narcotics, food, shopping, cigarettes, and the internet are all ways I escape and avoid feeling feelings! I also use these things to cope with my depression and anxiety. 

When we don’t know how to identify or cope with our emotions in a healthy way, we turn to addictions to suppress and numb them. Emotions are scary enough to stable people. To addicts they are utterly terrifying!

It takes support

So I go to meetings weekly, see a counselor, meet with my Sponsor and work the steps. It isn’t something that can be done alone. It takes a village…of support! I am very grateful for the amazing support system that I have.

 I often have to talk myself into going to the meetings due to my social anxiety, but after every single one I drag myself to I am grateful that I did. I always leave filled with love and inspiration. I often hear stories much more harrowing than that of my own. This is so inspirational. And it fills me with gratitude that they are willing to share their experiences to help others.

It takes doing what you’ve never done before

I am also learning how to ask for help from my higher power. That is something I am not at all used to. I am not religious. I identify myself as more of a spiritual being. I believe in a force greater than myself, I am still just not sure how I interpret what that power is. This new way of living my life is a huge learning process. Faith has never been part of my behavioural repertoire before now. It is all very foreign, yet so fascinating at the same time.

Nothing worth it comes easy

Knowing that I am not alone on this challenging, yet amazing journey to a happier-healthier-substance free-ME makes all the difference between winning and losing the fight. I have a lot of love in my life to be present and grateful for. And I have a lot to be proud of as well. I often don’t give myself the credit I deserve. That is another thing I am working on. The most important thing is that I am moving forward. It isn’t a race, it is a lifelong process that takes continual effort. It isn’t easy by any means, but it is beyond worth it!

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