That’s when I began to fall prey to the question: Why me? Why is this happening to me?
Something I’m sure maybe all of us have asked ourselves at some point. Or maybe we have had this feeling of not feeling good enough.
Maybe for you it was — you didn’t feel smart enough or pretty enough or skinny enough or strong enough, or just enough in anything that you do.
And the secret to being enough was just always out of reach.
Fast forward a few years for me and going into high school, and all of my dreams, goals and aspirations that I had as a child started to slowly disappear. I didn’t know where to turn, or who to talk to.
As I continued to use this feeling of not feeling good enough became worse and I couldn’t look myself in the mirror anymore.
As I continued to use, I continued to make horrible decisions. I started getting into trouble with the law. And instead of asking for help, I ended up using even more heavily.
Going back to that night at the lake – yes, I drove away. By God’s grace, yes, I am still here.
But like I said instead of asking for help, I started using even more. And as things became worse, I eventually lost my job, my apartment. I was losing my friends and I was pushing away my family and felt like I had nobody to turn to.
I was digging myself so deep into a hole that I thought I would never make it out of there.
Not until — thankfully — about a year later, I happened to reconnect with one of my older sisters. She saw that I was at one of the lowest points in my life. And she offered me some support.
What was so great is that she didn’t shame me or force me to change. Instead, she met me in my mess and asked how she could help me.
She offered me a place to live and food to eat but only under one condition: I had to get sober.
Sober? I wasn’t sure if that was going to be possible.
In fact, the word “recovery” was something that I had never used in my vocabulary before. Oh, yeah and I had to live in her basement, give her my car keys, eat when she said I had to eat and be home when she said I had to be home. I felt like a child again.
But the truth is: I had no other option at that point. I no longer wanted to suffer.
So I dropped to my knees and I let go of the control.
I was done doing it my own way and I was done trying to figure it all out by myself. I wanted to figure out what recovery meant to me.
And now I stand here before you today because of her unconditional love and God’s grace that I was given a second chance at life. Something I used to never even believe in.
As I started to figure out what recovery meant to me, it was in December of 2013, before I could even legally step foot in the bar at the age of 20 years old, I found recovery.
And today I no longer say, “Hi, my name is Nadine and I am an addict.”
Instead, today I am a person in long-term recovery and am proud of it. Today I will no longer allow my substance use and mental health disorders to define me.
Today I no longer allow others to define me.
And while things didn’t change overnight, I realized that I had to put the work in. I discovered that the only person who could really start making these changes in my life was me.
So I started to figure out what recovery meant to me. I started leaning into the discomfort of my thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
I started diving into self-help books. I started journaling. And I started having uncomfortable conversations around who I am and how I got here.
I started to surround myself with others who were willing to help me find a new way. As I became more involved with the recovery community, I got connected with the founders of an organization called RISE TOGETHER. They were on a mission to stand up and speak out about their recovery.
But when they asked me to share my story for the very first time, I said absolutely not. Speaking out about recovery from addiction was not something I ever imagined doing. It was never in the five-year plan anyway.
Not until February of 2014. I mustered up the courage to share my story publicly for the very first time in front of hundreds of students. I stepped onstage that day. And I was shaking.
My mouth was dry and I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to make it through my speech. But I took a deep breath.
I shared my story. It was that day that my whole world started to change. When I stepped off stage that day, it’s like this heavy weight was lifted off my shoulders.
I went home and I reflected on what had just happened. And that’s when I realized why I was put here on this earth.