Voices From the Community – Aaron
Entheo Society introduces a new series featuring the voices of real individuals from the community living with addiction and other mental health challenges.
We are pleased that Aaron’s story will launch this important series:
It was once explained to me that addiction can best be understood using an analogy of a split personality. One side is the self, the creative and vibrant side of ourselves which not only brings us closer to people but also expresses our individuality. The self is the side of ourselves that our families and friends all know and love. The antithesis of the self, as far as addiction is concerned, is the addict. The villain if you will, in the tale of addiction. The selfish and self destructive side that all addicts have in common which is a direct manifestation of prolonged use of addictive chemicals and or behavior. In the beginning stages of addiction the addict is but a mere whisper in the background and the self is front and center. But slowly over time the white noise of the addict becomes more pronounced and eventually the self recedes into the shadows. This process doesn’t take over night, it occurs rather over a long and arduous course of time and our families and friends unfortunately are mainly the ones who bear witness to this horrific transformation. Often time though, as I can personally attest to, the self becomes aware of the addict gaining control and yet feeling disgusted and betrayed can offer little to no assistance in reversing this overthrow of power. The families and friends of the addict often get so hurt emotionally and physically that in order to salvage what relationship they do have with the addict they cut ties and protect themselves emotionally. This has been my experience thus far with this devastating illness, one that fortunately the greater proportion of the population is beginning to accept and understand.
As I reflect on just of a few incidences that have occurred due to my addiction I’m utterly baffled that someone could survive that magnitude of destruction. Us addicts are tough people. Being on the fringes of society and red taped from America’s dream of opportunity were left to survive in a microcosm of violence and pain. That microcosm though, much like the greater society that surrounds it, does also contain within it a great deal of affection often in the form of comradery. Just like survivors of a wrecked ship we bond together through our shared plight. It’s our identity as outcasts which brings us together and spares what humanity we do have. I wonder if I’ll ever know of a life which resembles anything “normal”. Will I ever straighten up and be what our society not only suggests I do but demands it for fear of being ostracized? The greater question however isn’t will I but rather do I want to be that person.
The answer, like most things in life, isn’t so cut and dry. Sometimes I want to change and sometimes I don’t. I think it’s the times when I long for that connection with other people that the need for change is the greatest. If I were to choose a life with or without addiction ultimately I’d be choosing a life with or without healthy relationships with people which for me is a scary prospect, one which I currently have no definitive answer for. After spending my entire adult life avoiding relationships with healthy people the idea of being born again with the ability to be vulnerable with other people is frightening to say the least. My heart fills with regret though when I reflect on the people who love me, the people I ultimately abandoned throughout the course of my addiction. Perhaps the most heartbreaking truth of my addiction is in the end it wasn’t them I chose to spend my time with, it was the drugs and behaviors. Time after time they tried to rescue me from my sinking ship but time after time I denied them of that blessing. The irony here is that these are the same people I once thought had abandoned me which was the foundation for my addiction. Will I leave this world alone and bitter, a full transformation of the addict, or will I take a leap of faith and reach out to those who want nothing more than to see me succeed and be happy. Only time will tell.