By Jeremiah Johnston
“Big changes in my life are right around the corner. These changes make me scared, alone, uncertain, and confused. But I know this is what is needed!”
This is something I said in October of 2014, before I started my journey in recovery. My addiction had a firm hold on me since I was a teenage boy. I grew up in a smaller town in San Diego and made the decision to “come out of the closet” during my freshman year. After coming out, my father disowned me and my peers started to look at me differently. It first started with verbal abuse and soon lead to being physically assault. Not being able to face the reality of what was going on and how I was being treated, I turned to alcohol and marijuana. This was the first escape I had found- a mechanism of release that helped me get outside of myself. I didn’t have to have to deal with life on life’s terms.
Soon after this experience, I was able to find a mask to wear. A mask that hid my true self from the world. I used that mask to create a narrative for how people saw me: from the way that I dressed, to the way that I walked, the way I spoke, and the lingo that I used. Instead of working through the pain triggered by the bullying, I dropped out of high school turned to drugs and alcohol.
I continued my addictions for the next 8 years. I lied, I manipulated and I stole. I did whatever I needed to do to get what I wanted. The thing that I wanted most, of course, was alcohol and crystal meth. Those two things were the true loves of my life and my sole source of comfort. I put those two loves above anything and anyone. I left a huge wake of wreckage in my path. It took me losing everything (my home, health, vehicle, partner and job) to realize that my life was becoming unmanageable and I needed to do something about it.
The first time that I asked for help was in October of 2014 and I decided that I would enter a 90 day treatment program. I stayed sober from November of 2014 until May of 2015, but life didn’t really improve. I didn’t change anything in my life besides the fact that I was not using any mind altering substances. I hit another bottom in October of 2015 and that’s when I realized that I could no longer continue on the path of destruction that I was on.
My back was against the wall. I had hit a bottom filled with desperation and surrender.
My current clean date is October 9th, 2015 and that is the day I started to sky rocket my life into a new dimension. The biggest thing that I needed to realize is that my life was run on self-will and I needed to get out of my own way if I ever wanted to truly recover. I decided that I would go to any lengths to achieve my sobriety.
My first step was moving into sober living. It was a very humbling experience that gave me the solid foundation that I have today. My second point of action was to acquire a sponsor; someone who would take me through all 12 steps.
Today, my life is completely changed. I attend at least 4 meetings a week. I have a home group. I have a very close support network. When I came into recovery, my sole purpose was to not die. In the earliest days of my sobriety, I didn’t know that I was going to have the ability to work on myself. I never thought I would be able to look into the mirror and like the person that I see.
For the past 13 years I walked with my head down and didn’t think I was worthy of living a good life. Today, because of my recovery, I love myself. I can be present for myself and more importantly be present for other people. Today I have friends that love me, not because of what I have, but because they like the person that I am. I’m grateful for the ability to work on myself and to continue my journey of recovery for the rest of my life.