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.
I discovered that once I started to speak my truth, I began to discover some light even through so much darkness. That’s when my question changed from why me to why not me.
And now I believe it is part of my purpose to share three and valuable lessons that have helped me to learn and believe that I am truly enough. And it starts with forgiveness.
When I realized that I could be forgiven for the mistakes that I made in the past and for the horrible things I had done, not only to myself but to others, I started to feel whole again.
I don’t have to wear a mask anymore. Today I have a real smile. If I didn’t find forgiveness, I would have continued to live my life as a victim, giving other people’s actions power over me.
When I educate others around this topic, people often feel like they can’t find forgiveness. But I promise you that finding forgiveness isn’t about them; it’s about you.
The second is trust. Not just trusting in yourself or others but trusting the process. Trusting that whatever struggles you may be facing today could be leading you to something bigger and greater than you could have ever expected or imagined.
It’s like that phrase “walk by faith and not by sight”. I believe that that’s the same when you walk with trust.
I would have never imagined that my addiction would lead me to sharing my story with people all around the world.
Now that is trust.
And finally, the third is acceptance.
For me it was accepting that even though I’ve made countless mistakes in my life, I no longer believe that I am one. And that’s what matters.
I also discovered that once you start accepting who you are made to be by focusing on your strengths and things that you’re good at, your passion will naturally come into play.
It was through this acceptance that I am now helping to lead RISE TOGETHER and we have ignited a youth-led movement that is saving lives, encouraging over 150,000 young people to use their voice and share their stories.
Because at the end of the day, we’re all recovering from something. But it’s up to you to choose a different life.
It’s up to you to find forgiveness, trust, and acceptance. But this is a constant practice. And it’s not always easy.
In fact, when I came to pitch my idea to TEDx about feeling good enough, immediately when I was accepted, I started to question whether I was good enough to talk about feeling good enough.
But this is my story. This is my truth. And I will continue to share it.