I started wearing makeup at too young of an age and I started to worry about what others thought of me, especially boys. But I would go to school every day and I would put a fake smile on my face — wearing a mask, pretending to be somebody that I wasn’t, because I just wanted to fit in.
I thought that if I could just be like everyone else, then I wouldn’t feel so alone. When in fact, I started to feel lonelier than I did before.
What was it that I was searching for?
I mean I had great parents, they still loved me and took care of me. As any parent would be, they were still on my back about cleaning my room, doing the dishes, responding to their text messages which they still expect to this day.
I had great friends. I played sports. We had sleepovers and I even got good grades. But still I felt like something was missing.
I wanted to feel like there was greater meaning and purpose to my life — or as why I was even put here on this earth.
I was searching for a deeper meaning.
Is this life I am living enough? If so, then why am I still not enough? That’s why I started experimenting with drugs and alcohol at the age of 14.
I thought I found the perfect mask that would temporarily make me feel like I was good enough.
As I continued to use the thoughts around being good enough and the questions even around my existence started to vanish. I became addicted.
You see, I remember hearing the phrase “just say no” but it wasn’t just that easy. Once I found the perfect mask to hide behind, I continued to bury my pain and my secrets even deeper.
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.