I don't think it's unusual to walk through life and continuously wonder, "Why me?" Growing up I always felt like I had a perpetual black cloud over my head. I was a glutton for punishment and when bad things happened, I would feel unsurprised because my 'unlucky streak' always continued. I've played soccer my entire life. As a soccer player, an injury you never want to have is an ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) tear in your knee. I've torn my ACLs four times in total. Each time it happened I thought, "Of course it did. I deserve this. I have the black cloud." As the years went on, this thought pattern slowly made its way into my dating and drinking patterns.
I chose men who were emotionally unavailable and just flat out wrong for me. Then I did my best to sabotage every relationship and wondered why I felt so heartbroken afterwards. I always chalked it up to having a bad life. I wasn't underprivileged and I didn't undergo any sort of life-altering tragedy in my youth, yet I was convinced I needed self-pity for this life I led. Today, I believe these qualities all played into my drinking and using. Every bad day was followed by the need to get drunk and forget about whatever had just happened to me. Then drinking led to blackouts and blackouts led to embarrassing and dangerous situations that still haunt me today. I couldn't grasp that my destructive drinking patterns led to the constant drama that caused me to lose my self-esteem. I didn't understand that drinking made everything worse not better; that by masking my pain with booze I was actually digging myself a bigger hole.
The more I drank, the less self-worth I had. Deep down inside I was disgusted with myself. My soul was engulfed by shame, guilt, self-hatred and anger. And the only person I had to thank for those feelings was myself. With every walk-of-shame, blackout and embarrassing situation I found myself in, I retreated deeper and deeper into my addiction. I felt worthy of nothing. Not love, not sobriety and certainly not the beautiful everyday things that life has to offer. Foreign things like peace, serenity, a good job and a warm cup of coffee. I watched friends get married and have babies, hitting the most important milestones of their lives, all the while feeling like I was watching a movie. I didn't think that those were things life had in store for me. Why would it? I didn't deserve any of those things.
When I got sober in 2013 I had no idea if recovery was going to be for me. I didn't know I would enjoy it so much, or that recovery would become the foundation on which I would build my new life. Everything I have now--a great job, a fiancé who loves me, my first home, has been a direct result of my sobriety. It's hard to believe sometimes, that my life completely turned around in every way possible. It's all because of the decision to stop drinking and doing drugs. I don't understand what I did to deserve this amazing life I'm currently living.
Lately I've been in a constant struggle with my feelings. Again, I've been asking myself, "Why me?" Why have I been given the gift of recovery and others haven't? I could have overdosed. I could have fell off a balcony in Cancun in a blackout and died. Or worse, I could still be out there drinking and popping ecstasy not giving shit about myself or anyone around me and think that was the life I was destined to live. Instead, I'm sober and living a life beyond my wildest dreams. I can't help but wonder why I have been given this amazing life and others haven't. Life has been so great that I find myself waiting for something bad to happen. I have this sense of impending doom inside me, that life cannot be this good without something bad eventually happening. Do I truly deserve this life? Am I worthy of recovery?
This internal struggle is my old way of thinking creeping in. It's that self-doubt that formally consumed me, trying to convince me that I don't deserve recovery and all of the wonderful things this sober life has to offer. People I have shared this with tell me, "Don't question it." Or, "Use your gift!" That's easier said than done. I guess maybe I'll never understand why I experienced that moment of clarity on May 7, 2013. I'll never know why some people never get that moment. I try to do the best I can to accept the fact that I've been given a second chance at life. That's why I share my story as much as I can. I am making it my life's work to let others know that recovery is possible and that, yes, it can completely transform your entire life.
Letting the doom get to me by waiting around for something bad to happen would be a total disservice to my recovery. This is an important lesson for me. I need to remind myself that I am worthy of recovery, of love, of a healthy partnership and of all of the incredible opportunities this sober life has provided me. I am learning to straddle that line between gratitude and usefulness. I won't let my old thinking get the best of me because if I do, then my addiction wins.
Today I believe I deserve all that I receive. It's up to me to decide what I do with my life and I choose to radiate love, tolerance and kindness. I choose to show the world just how amazing recovery can be. I choose to show the world that anyone is worthy of recovery, including me.
This article was originally published on AfterParty Magazine.
Follow Kelly's personal blog The Adventures of a Sober Señorita.
Need help with substance abuse or mental health issues? In the U.S., call 800-662-HELP (4357) for the SAMHSA National Helpline.