Journey to Recovery is a series of stories or personal journals from residents of Together We Can. All of the journeys we share are presented unedited, written as the author reaches milestones in sobriety, and discuss both life in addiction and life in sobriety.
Journey to Recovery: Anonymous
I grew up here in Vancouver with two hippy-dippy artists for parents. Both are supportive, loving, and kind. I am an only child who never needed for anything. For the most part, I had a lovely childhood filled with friends, family, summer camps, good schools, and vacations. I never pictured myself becoming an addict, but little did I know that I was already living my life alcoholically.
It didn’t seem to matter how perfect my situation was on the exterior, I always felt scared and unsure of myself. I had very low self-confidence from a very young age. As a child, I started making decisions based on trying to make those feelings disappear as often as possible. I found that if I could get people to like me, I would get a little shot of confidence and relief from my anxiety and self-doubt. I started studying how to be likable as if it was tradecraft. I would bend my personality to fit in with whoever I was around. I got good at it. The problem was that I was liked by most, but had no real friends because I wasn’t, in fact, really myself.
The relationships I started focusing on the most were the people who bullied me. They were the hardest to get approval from, and I needed the approval. I had already started an unhealthy addictive structure for my life.
I was a C average student in high school and was friends with the “bad kids”, I smoked weed (which I hated, but it was the thing to do to be cool) and drinking on the weekends. I lived like this from grade 8 to grade 11. As the end of the school year grew closer, I realized that these people who I put up on this pedestal were at the peak of their social popularity and status (in my eyes). I needed a new set of external goals because I wasn’t feeling good about myself again, I wasn’t getting my fix from these people anymore. I dropped all my friends overnight and looked for new friends who came from wealthy backgrounds who were “going places”. I signed up for summer school to take classes in advance and became a straight-A student on the Honours List by my graduation.
I got into university and I had found my new external validation system for valuing myself. It still involved needing acceptance from people, but they had to have status, be pretty, and have money. I grew up middle class and I felt ashamed of myself for it, just like I had felt ashamed of myself that the bullies didn’t like me in grade school.
I was partying harder than ever, but with the right people again. I was done with the drugs that I didn’t like just to be cool. Now I could drink and use the kind of drugs that made me feel amazing and fit in. I got summer internships to pay for school and partying, I found the prettiest girl I could, and I was doing well in university. I was checking all the boxes. For a short time, I thought I was happy.
I graduated from university and in the next 3 years, I had started a company with a school mate from uni, proposed to my girlfriend, and bought an apartment in Yaletown. At this point, I had been getting my fix from checking off these external goals one by one. Funny thing was that the sense of accomplishment was fleeting with each victory and afterward I was back to feeling lost. Amassing status, a pretty girl (didn’t matter what her personality was), successful friends, and a little wealth no longer worked for me to feel good. Then I found powdered cocaine.
Within 2 years I had called off my wedding, gotten kicked out of my company, sold my apartment, and most of my toys, and was using thousands of dollars worth of cocaine a week. I had reached the point where I knew I was so lost and that I had been doing everything wrong, that I just didn’t care for a while. It was insurmountable to think about working on myself because I had never done it before. It was the thing I had always feared and always avoided since I was little. I watched my family’s look of horror seeing me sink into my addiction. I needed help.
I started attending AA meetings and muddled around for a year with no real results. I still couldn’t see any happiness to fight for, I was stuck in limbo. Eventually, I got tired of it and was so beaten down I would have done anything. I agreed to go to treatment.
I needed the weight and strength of a treatment center like TWC to help me. To show me that it isn’t as scary to look at your own issues and that it is ok to work on them and be vulnerable.
I am over 7 months sober today. I am a good son, I have a kind-hearted wonderful girlfriend, I have a new business but most importantly; I am truly happy. In treatment, I learned ways to fix the methods I was living by before that yielded me an unfulfilled life. I know it sounds corny, but I am ok with being a little corny these days. I still get scared, I still suffer from low self-esteem, I still have a lot of issues to work through, but at least now I can see them for what they are. I have a lot of hope and happiness again for what my future may hold.