I was recently volunteering at the Milwaukee Women’s Correctional Center, talking with the ladies (i.e. inmates) about the importance of staying vigilant in recovery, when one of them stopped me and said, “I just realized why you look so familiar! I saw you speak at Project Freedom last year! That was you, right?”
Her words were humbling and sent a shiver down my spine.
“Yes, that was me.”
And she replied, “I feel ashamed telling you that, because I was clean back then and doing really well, and then I stopped working on my recovery and ended up back here.”
To which I replied, “Well, I’m happy you ended up here and not dead. There’s still hope.”
The reality is, I am no different than she is. All it takes is one bad weekend and I would be sitting right there with her in a stiff green jumpsuit. It is the one of the main reasons I keep coming back, week after week, suiting up and showing up – even on the days I don’t necessarily want to.
I don’t want to forget…
I am often asked why I still go to so many meetings (you still have to go to those things?), or why I write so much about my past struggles with addiction, and the answer is simple – I have a chronic brain disorder that needs daily attention. When I stop treating my illness, I quickly forget why it needed to be treated in the first place.
The forgetting is what terrifies me, because if I forget how bad it was, my addict brain might start to convince me it was never really that bad at all.
You see, addiction doesn’t care about my beautiful daughter or my supportive husband. Addiction doesn’t care about my house, or my job, or my car. It doesn’t care about my parents or my siblings, or any one of my amazing friends. It doesn’t care about my dog, or my hobbies, or my goals.
Addiction does not care about me, or my life, or whether I live or die, so I have to.
I took care of myself today, and I hope I make the same healthy choices tomorrow.
In this moment, I’m glad I stayed another 24 hours. 💜