Personal Growth and Recovery

               Something I find myself wondering from time to time is, “how did I get here?” I look at my life today and it’s almost unrecognizable from where I was five years ago. Back then, I was a low-bottom drug addict. I was jobless and on the verge of becoming homeless, spending my days getting high, acquiring street drugs, and scheming for ways to make money to buy more street drugs. I was a mess, and things were looking hopeless. I came close to dying—not that it bothered me much. And then I found recovery.

               Things are looking very different today. I’m happy and healthy. I have great relationships and I’m surrounded by people who care about me. I have some money in my pocket, and I earned it from working at a job I enjoy. I have a nice, clean apartment where the rent is paid on time on the first of every month. Things have really come together for me. What changed to make this happen?

               In a word, I grew. It all started with the decision to find recovery from my addiction and seek treatment. I stepped out of my comfort zone when I first asked for help, when I went to my first meeting, when I decided I needed inpatient treatment. And I’ve been stepping out of my comfort zone regularly since.

               It was scary at first. No matter how bad things were in my addiction, there was a certain comfort to be found in my degenerate lifestyle. It made me feel at ease to know that any time I could pull a few dollars together, that was enough for another day of oblivion, of pushing my worries off until tomorrow. I knew I was unhappy. I knew I might die. I knew things were bad. But I was still afraid of change.

               Learning to conquer that fear was one of the best decisions I ever made. For me, putting down the drugs wasn’t enough to get my life back on track. Obviously, I was sober, but I had no idea how to function like a human being. Living like an animal for years will do that to you. In fact, I think there were certain skills I just never learned—like how to have a healthy relationship. As you can imagine, I’ve done quite a bit of growing since then.

               The most surprising thing about all this personal growth is that it really wasn’t even that hard. Taking that first step—going outside my comfort zone and doing something I was afraid to do—was by far the hardest part. The rest of it sort of just fell into place after that. I will say that there were some painful times. Learning to be social again led to some embarrassing situations and a few romantic rejections. But I survived, and I’m better for it—or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this today.

               So now, when I wonder how I got here, I know that the answer is through personal growth. Sometimes it was hard, sometimes it was scary, but a lot of the times, it was fun, and it was always rewarding. When I look at how I’ve changed over the last five years, I can say with honestly that there is absolutely nothing I regret about growing.