By Zed Carter
When I was young I never really felt like I fit in anywhere. I was constantly changing how I dressed and acted based on who I was trying to hang out with. I was never comfortable with being myself, and was always trying to find a way to get out of reality. As a kid I would read and read because I could lose myself in books and not have to think about my own issues. At school I was constantly bullied, and for a long time I could not let go of my resentment to the kids that were doing it. It wasn’t until I got clean and looked back at all my resentments and fears that I was able to see that I had a part in it; I never stood up for myself. I was scared of what would happen if I tried to defend myself. So you could say that when I was young, I did not like going to school. I was so happy at home, maybe because home itself was a break from my reality.
As I got older, I wanted more and more to fit in and have some friends. I started to party as a way to make friends, but what I found was even more. The numbing feeling that I got from ingesting any sort of substance; it allowed me to not care about what others thought of me. I didn’t even have to think about how I felt about myself. My first time drinking I woke up the next day after blacking out, having puked everywhere, and couldn’t wait to do it again. All I could think about was the feeling I had the night before while I was drinking, I didn’t even think or care about what happened when it was over. I started experimenting with other things and soon found my out, opiates.
It’s hard for me to even put into words how much I obsessed about this. It took over my every thought and action. If I didn’t have any, I was thinking of how to get it. If I had some, I was thinking about my next one. Achieving constant numbness was what I desired, and I did whatever I thought I could to do it. I started stealing from family and friends. Sold or pawned all the stuff I had and even what my family had. I got fired from jobs for stealing money from the till. I had lost control and couldn’t stop. At seventeen years old I went to my first treatment, where I detoxed for the first time and got a clear head. It was the first time I was introduced to Alcoholics Anonymous.
Over the next seven years or so, I went to dozens of detoxes, outpatient treatments, and inpatient treatments. Went to hundreds of AA and NA meetings but never followed suggestions of the program. I wasn’t in denial about my disease but I was in denial that I needed to follow the path that many other people have successfully followed. I thought I could do things on my own and in my own way. One thing that I did do right was I never gave up, and I kept trying and kept coming back, hoping that something would eventually click.
I eventually lost my career, somewhere where I had been working for three and a half years; I wasn’t even able to stay clean for that. My parents had finally had enough and kicked me out; all I had was some clothes and my car. Things got much worse for me after that, I started using all day and night. I had zero responsibilities and didn’t have to answer to anyone. It was almost a year later when I was finally ready to seek help. I found myself living in motels and in tents, barely eating and rarely showering.
One day I broke down, and became super depressed and alone. I couldn’t believe where I was and I didn’t want it anymore. I had had enough. I reached out to my parents and begged them to find some way for me to get to treatment. Somewhere different and out of state, and somewhere that was longer than a month. I had to do everything different, and was finally willing and ready to follow direction. My parents let me come home for one night before I went to treatment, and I have never seen them more worried and scared of how I looked. I was a walking corpse, sucked in cheeks and no color in my face. We all were crying, them because they were happy I was alive, and me because it was the first time since I was kicked out that I had any sort of love in my life.
The next day I was on a plane to California. I have never been more scared in my life before. I was going to a new place where I had never been and where I knew no one. I did have one thing though and it kept me going and that was faith. Faith that everything would be alright, that something somewhere had been watching over me. After eight days of the worst withdrawals I had ever been through, I entered into my three month long treatment.
Today I am so grateful for that treatment, having group sessions every day, and seeing a psychiatrist and a therapist regularly; and attending a 12 step meeting every night. I was able to get involved in the recovery down there and started making new friends. A group of guys that I looked up to and followed what they did, since they not only new how to stay sober, but knew how to work on being a better person every day. I started to get out of my comfort zone and worked on new things that I never thought I needed to do before. I got to have another man help me and show me this new way of life, by finding faith in something greater than me, clearing the wreckage of my past, continuing to look at myself and work on myself to being a better person, and once I was ready, having myself help other fellow men try to find this new way of life.
After treatment I moved to sober living for eight months, somewhere where I was held accountable and had support. I attended daily meetings and got a couple service positions to help me stay accountable at my meetings. My recovery started being more about being a better person and helping others. After almost a year of living in California, I had an opportunity to come back home to Washington. It was one of the biggest decisions I have had to make in my recovery. Did I really want to leave something that has helped me so much? I decided to take that leap of faith and do it.
Today I’m not afraid of who I am. Most days I am very happy. I get to spend time with my family who has put up with all my chaos for years, but had always been there for me when I was ready for help. I get to share my experience, strength, and hope with others who struggle with the same disease I do. This disease is something I don’t take for granted today; I know that I must continually stay involved with others if I am to keep what I have. And it is in my hopes that my story will help someone in some way.