Friday, October 30, 2015

"Bad Kids"

About two months ago I attended my first ever Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Without ever attending any type of twelve step meeting, I had no idea what to expect. This particular night we attended an open speaker meeting. It was an opportunity for an individual with a substantial amount of recovery time to share their story with the group. Sounded painless enough.

My heart sank when I immediately recognized the speaker from my past. I had gone to grade school with this person and knew he began using at a young age. To be terribly honest, he was one of the kids my goodie-two-shoes gang and I made fun of and looked down upon. I did not grow up with access to drugs or alcohol, and therefore, did not understand why anyone would go down that path. He hung out with the kids my parents told me to stay away from; the "bad kids."

So there I sat fifteen years later listening to the so-called "bad kid" teach me about how to recover from addiction. To say I was humbled is an understatement. Pinpointing a single emotion to that night is impossible. I was dumbfounded, ashamed, nauseous, mortified, confused, and most importantly incredibly proud of this young man's journey. I had been shaken to my very core. Suddenly not only did I have to interact with these "bad kids," but I had to look to them for guidance and support.

As I am writing this, I realize how judgmental it sounds and I apologize for that. At the same time, however, I think it is important to note the way I once thought is not uncommon in today's society. Simply put addicts are wrongfully seen in a negative light.

For those of you who have followed my blog in the past, you know I primarily wrote about my eating disorder recovery journey. Over a short period of time I gained a substantial following and felt a sense of belonging. Although it might have been a bit shocking at times, talking about my eating disorder publicly did not feel socially unacceptable. 

Here I am, however, a few years down the road tackling an equally devastating and challenging form of addiction but feel suffocated by the social stigmas involved. I have been hesitant to post this for awhile now, but this is a disease people die from every single day; not something to be quiet about or shy away from.

As a child I was taught to believe addicts are somehow “bad kids.”
However, now that I am white-knuckling through my own sobriety and recovery,
I am finding these so-called “bad kids” are my soulmates.

Addicts are remarkable people.
Addicts fight a war within themselves every single day.
Addicts are stereotyped and discriminated against.
Addicts are beaten down and made to believe they are weak.
With all odds against them,
addicts do live healthy lives in recovery,
and for that,
I am grateful.


Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Honesty. Openmindedness. Willingness.


Three of favorite words.

With the exception of about three people, not including my parents, most of you think I have spent the past month at my old eating disorder treatment center for a "booster." Meaning my weight was down a few pounds and old self-destructive thoughts were creeping their way back into my life. Which is only partially true.

Here it goes... I was in a three week program for substance abuse here in my hometown. Some of you might be thinking, "omg, finally," and some of you might be a little surprised.

Both are okay. 

With this decision brought the loss of my senior year internship, giving up my apartment, the end of a relationship that brought several joys to my recovery, and several other raised eyebrows.  To say I was lost and in complete shock is an understatement. Here's the thing about entering substance abuse treatment as someone who has only indulged in wine - I've never done drugs, I don't smoke cigarettes, and I've never even seen weed in real life (giggles allowed). Most of my fellow patients had done time in jail or lost their kids as a result to hard drugs. I was out of place and struggling.

I never took the program seriously.

Here I am a week out of treatment wishing I could go back.
Wishing I could have a re-do.
Wishing I could take advantage rather than spite the people around me.
Wishing I wasn't so damn judgmental.

Forgive me, but I've always had a stereotype of what it means to be a drug addict, regardless of my social work background. Regardless of the fact that I have struggled with a behavioral addiction (anorexia) for most of my life. Who am I to judge these people?

On one of my first days we learned the acronym HOW.


There were several nights when staff members asked if I had opened up and begun accepting the program. In all honestly, I usually rolled my eyes and questioned how I could even fit in with these people, let alone get "on board with the program." I had been through treatment before, done this work, and was a little insulted they didn't understand I wasn't a hardcore drug addict. Deep down I probably knew I needed to be there, but my acceptance level was zero.

Here I am one week out of treatment and wishing I could move back in. I might have said and done the right things to get out, but it did me zero good in the long run. Even though I grew up in an upper-middle class family and had all of my needs met, I still belonged there. I was no different than anyone there.

Honestly - I am an addict. Whether I use an eating disorder or wine to numb the craziness in my brain, I'm still an addict.

Openmindness - During my first week in the treatment center, all I could focus on was my judgments. I'm sure everyone in the house hated me for this, but it's true. If I am an addict, who am I to judge anyone who has dealt with relationship, professional, or even legal problems who is also an addict?
Not cool, Kels.

Willingness - Here's the big one. Am I truly and deeply willing to accept who I am as an addict and those around me for the wonderful human beings they are? Yikes. Seems like a loaded question. The willingness to accept myself as a part of this family?! One day at a time.

This is a difficult post, but much needed. 

Hi I'm Kelsi, and I'm an alcoholic.

I hate those words, but they are part of me and my future.

The most important part of any AA meeting is the newcomer. So here I am...

Willing and ready.

Serious Progress.