Choosing Sobriety: My Spiritual Awakening
Oh Lord, this crazy little thing called life. Until recently, I had not realized how blindly I had been walking in my faith. Being led to the left, but following to the right. Always been a little rebellious; I have a bad habit of walking those fine lines. I’ve been racing to a finish line without any sense of accomplishment or purpose. My mind entertains so much, but my body’s been without action and my spirit has been unfruitful. Going through the motions. Accepting this hellish world around me without a hint of protest. Confident I am saved in Christ, but never expressing gratitude for said salvation. I guess this is what being—comfortable—is defined as. For the first time, in a long time, I am uncomfortable. In an ironic twist, I find comfort in my uncomfortableness. I’ve gained vision.
Falling down at work a couple of weeks ago, forced me to slow down. Life, literally, threw a lemon at me. I’ve never been a fan of it, but God is making lemonade. Despite the very real pain that I am in because of the fall, I am laughing at the bitterness and thirsting for the sweetness of his drink. I’ve been being treated by a chiropractor and massage therapist since the fall, but I am still in pain. The pain is a constant. It feels like whiplash and it never lets up. While it is not excruciating, it is trying. Without any cease in its torment, I’ve been unable to perform regular activities, including work, without suffering for it. It truly tests my will. God continues to strengthen me. I can feel some of you out there praying for me and I am blessed in knowing and grateful for that. Thank you.
While at the massage therapist, I realized that– pain— has been redefined for me. Part of treatment is indicating your pain factor on a scale from 1-10. I’ve been reporting a constant two. Sometimes, I will admit to a three. Yesterday I went in with a horrible headache. I had woken up with the headache and because I knew I was receiving both an adjustment and massage, I opted not to take Ibuprofen. I realize that ibuprofen does not produce a high or euphoria. However, the very act of taking pills, is something I avoid when feasible. My massage therapist questioned me when I described my headache as a two or three on the pain scale. She asked if I had a strong threshold for pain because judging by my description and the fact that I was rubbing at my temples, digging my fist into my neck and sighing about it while describing it, she would have guessed at least a five. I laughed. I literally, laughed out loud. Without hesitation, I informed her that I was a recovering heroin addict and former pill seeker. When you seek pills, your pain is always at least a five or six on the pain scale. I told her that I had made sure to report my pain as a two or a three, so that I would not be faced with further offers of pain medication. I’m confident in my ability to say no, but rather not be faced with that decision on the daily. She congratulated me on my sobriety, commended me for my honesty and I agreed to not downplay the pain that I am in. Still, somehow admitting that it is more than a two on the scale, feels like a defeat.
I’ve got these tattoos on my arms. They are on my forearms, right below the elbow joint. My reasoning for their placement is simple. When I shot heroin, I would attempt to connect with old reliable. That’s the nickname junkies give the vein that they can usually connect with. I wanted to ensure that if I ever found myself in a position of having a needle full of heroin again, that I would be faced with my daughter and my God before committing the act. One reads, “All for her Natalia 07-27-08” (My daughter). The other reads, “Saved by Grace 09-27-13” (My sobriety date). There would be no way for me to shoot dope without completely ignoring the two most important reasons for choosing life instead. My chiropractor questioned me about the meaning behind my tattoos. Without hesitation, I was honest with him. I admitted that I believed this fall was part of a spiritual attack, a strengthening in my faith. As my words poured forth, I realized I had no idea if he was a Christian man. I wondered if I sounded crazy to him, but I continued with my story, nonetheless. His eyes widened and he congratulated me on my sobriety. He is a Christian man and remarked on what a testament to Christ this tribulation really is.
After leaving the office, I was steadied by how unfailing God’s love and mercy truly is. God created an opportunity for me to be honest about my former opiate addiction with both of the people I am trusting to help me during my healing process. The fact that I was honest with both of them shows tremendous growth in who I am in my recovery. An addict would have never admitted their addictive tendencies. It would be foolish to close the doors to possible outlets for feeding their addiction. My admissions ensured that neither of the people treating me will encourage pain medications. I am certain they both made documentation in their charts about my confession and I am blessed by that. Am I no longer an addict in recovery? Have I fully recovered? Has Christ slayed that demon?
God gives me glimpses of the angels he has placed into my life for this season of growth. I am grateful. I’ve got this best friend. He is so much more to me than that, but I can’t sum him up with a mere title. Despite being somewhat of a wordsmith, I am unable to properly capture his magic or fully convey his importance in my life with any of the 171,476 words available for me to explain him. His existence begs me to exist. I’ve never felt more alive. He opens my eyes to a world I was refusing to see and I grow with him. He sparks this desire within me to be a better person. He humbles me. I described him before as a soulmate and he truly is. He is filled with a healing energy that completely captivates and centers my own. If I had it my way, I wouldn’t venture anywhere in this world without holding his hand. He gives me these hugs, (that I now refer to as CJ hugs) that completely calm the anxiety that storms within me. If I could, I would live forever embraced in his hug. I’ve never experienced such peace and comfort. I feel protected when his arms are around me. Protected from both the outside world and the influences within. He guides me in ways that I cannot even begin to fully comprehend, but I’m attempting to. He has awakened my ability to –-feel—again.
I had not realized that I had found a way to numb out without drugs, but I had. I’ve been sober for almost three years now, but I’ve been numb. A life on the streets can deter your ability to trust anyone. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of pain and loss. Fear of not being accepted for who I really am, have all been contributing factors to my desire to numb out the world around me. This beautiful angel that God has blessed me in knowing has shown me that by numbing my ability to fully experience the heartaches in life, I’ve been numbing my ability to truly love and experience the joys that life has to offer. I trust him. He is the first man that I have fully trusted in forever. His words have never expressed love, but his actions continue to show it. He’s genuine. The way he loves me has opened my heart up to love again. I had not realized how closed off I had been.
When I think of who I love in this world, my mind instantly flashes with thoughts of my beautiful daughter, Natalia. Even so, I had been failing her. Playing the roles of both mommy and daddy can be difficult. You have to be both the disciplinary figure and nurturer. The provider and caregiver. Being a mother has always been my biggest fear in life. Long story short, my childhood was less than ideal. I had never planned on being a mother because of it. Despite the constant admiration and affirmations I receive about being a good mother, I have never believed it. I’ve always doubted my ability and technique. The only certainty I’ve held concerning my title as a mother, is that I love her. I love her without conditions. From the minute the doctor placed her onto my stomach after giving birth, I knew I had never fully loved before and that I would never love another to the extent of the love that I have for her. She is my first and foremost.
Unfortunately, the guilt of choosing heroin over her and the pain and confusion our separation caused her while I was out on the streets and then in rehab, caused me to lose my authority. I surrendered it, in part because I feared her rejection. Mostly, I was afraid of being confronted with the pain that I have caused her. Naturally, this was all a subconscious doing. I did not set out to fail her in this way. I spoiled her with gifts and called it love. I allowed for her to be an equal say in our relationship, changing the dynamic to more of a friendship than that of a mother and daughter. I’m struggling a little now with regaining my authority and undoing her sense of entitlement.
The other day, she threw a tantrum over not getting her way. I’ve been advised to ignore these tantrums and I have. I’ve also argued with her, screamed at her and fought with her every step of the way. Nothing had worked. As I watched her fall down to the floor, exaggerating her tantrum, I realized that those were very real tears. While she didn’t have a legitimate reason to be making such a scene, she was really feeling the pain demonstrated before me. I realized that even when I am being the most irrational woman, when I am upset, I want nothing more than to be held through the pain. I decided to give her a CJ hug. I wrapped my arms, tightly, around her and held her close to my heart. I didn’t say a word to her. I allowed her to feel everything that she was feeling without arguing the legitimacy of her feelings. Naturally, she dragged it out, but eventually she calmed completely down. I asked if she was ready to eat dinner and she concurred. There was no further discussion about the tantrum. This is what I mean when I express that the way he loves me has opened my heart up to love again. God’s using CJ to not only nurture me, but to help me with an area I didn’t realize I had been failing in because it is foreign to me. Without attempting to, or realizing it, CJ is teaching me how to be a nurturer. Not because he saw me failing, but because he is sincere with the ways in which he nurtures me. I’m completely blessed and humbled by his desire to be the person who nurtures me.
I am irritated by the pain I am in, but I am more saddened by the fact it took me falling down to slow down enough to observe the world around me. I am both, concerned about the duration of time I will be experiencing this pain and ecstatic about what further growth and changes God will be leading me through. I appreciate continued prayers and support. My back feels exactly how it felt after I was in the car accidents that led to my former opiate addiction. I can’t help but feel like this is a second chance in life to handle the same pain differently. I am so grateful for my God, my daughter, my family, my friends, my angels and my soulmate. Is it wrong to feel grateful for my fall? It has created this stir of spiritual awakenings within me. The pain it has caused has reminded me it’s better to feel than to numb. I have no idea what tomorrow will bring, but I know as long as I continue to pray, there will be another update to come. Thanks for reading. God bless.