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.


Progress.

15 comments:

  1. Keep sharing. You’re gonna get through this. <3

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  2. Not only is going back for help years later one of the hardest things in the world, but to face multiple symptoms is another ball game. Please be gentle with yourself and remember you are doing the right thing. Things will eventually fall back into place.
    xoxo

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    1. Reminders like this are always welcome. Thank you so much!

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  3. Stay strong, Kelsi. Proud of you. You're showing your strength with each decision you make and every humble moment.

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    1. Love ya, Chels! Hope life is treating you well :)

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  4. Your view of your classmate stems from our historically poor understanding of addiction...leading to moral certainty. Much of what we think we know about addiction, and other brain disorders, is simply wrong. A good, readable introduction to the new neuroscience of addiction can be found in the book: Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction by Gabor Mate. His experience of his own addictions, combined with his treatment of severe addicts, is mixed with recent discoveries that help explain addictive behaviors. It really opened my eyes to the truth in your last paragraph. As always Kels, thanks for sharing your remarkable, although painful, journey.

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    1. Adam shared In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts with me a couple years ago. I think it's time for me to revisit it. It will probably hit a little closer to home for me now. I agree our society views brain disorders and addictions in a false and negative way. It's frustrating, but hopefully it will get easier with time. I keep telling myself I will learn way more this year with the first hand experience than my fellow social work students who are in a classroom. ;)

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  5. I really don't have much to say, Kelsi. I am here for you or wherever when you need. Any 12 step is the same besides the step 1. It goes to the same place when we go through the steps. I am glad that you sound well <3

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    1. Your continuous friendship and support has been such a blessing. <3

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  6. Hi Kelsi,
    It is so brave and inspirational of you to own your sobriety and come out to address the stigma head on. For many people it is all about the shame and hiding away - (especially comments like that anonymous one above - a perfect example of sitting on the sidelines and not having the courage to own your opinion- but I digress)
    Keep exploring your sobriety and being accountable and taking responsibility - life will open for you and it is an amazing journey - congratulations!
    thanks,
    Bren

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  7. I have been reading your blog on and off for 3 years. Your honesty and compassion towards yourself speaks volumes towards your self worth. It has guided me in discovering my own ways to be understanding, forgiving and compassionate with myself. It must be challenging to be so open and raw on here, but I want you to know some stranger from Boston really appreciates it! My own recovery from my ED has paralleled yours to a surprising extent and whenever I feel myself becoming lost, I go back to this blog to remind me that I'm not alone and everything I'm feeling is so normal for the situation that I'm in. Thank you so much for your honesty and compassion!
    -Jess

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  8. Sometimes the "bad kids" struggling with addictions have the most beautiful souls. I'm glad you've found your soulmates within them. Keep pushing forward, even though it sucks to have to white-knuckle it.

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