Breaking the Chains

imagesCADI0KIS 

When I found myself stripped of all my possessions, my freedom, even my identity, it was a very humbling experience. In a nut-shell, I have had a very good life. I have had a very fortunate life, extra-ordinary some might say. But I am also a recovering addict. My addiction finally got the best of me and brought me to my ‘rock-bottom’, as they say, in a quick six to eight months. Yes, I somehow was a functioning addict for about a decade where I worked, graduated college, travelled, was featured as an extra in three films, studied dance & Ballet, yoga and snowboarding, as well as writing for mostly my whole life. I had all of these things going on in life, I was actually alive, and living my life, seeking out new things, yet, all the while my addiction visited me on the side. My addiction was never my number one priority, until a combination of divorce/trauma/opiates entered my life all at the same time. Before this equation my life was also legally undisturbed.

When I was a functioning addict, I hated the fact that I had this ‘dual’ lifestyle. During the day, when I was working, or out with friends, or in class at the University of Utah, or doing things that I love/enjoy doing, I was a normal citizen just like everyone else. On my college campus, I went to class, drank cappuccino and pounded away on my laptop in the student center or cafe. On the outside, I was just fine. But with the ‘duel’ lifestyle comes the darkness that we face, feel and fear on the inside. And in that darkness, is where my addiction has lived for many many years. In all my years of studying and learning about the disease of addiction, I can comfortably say that all addicts have this darkness, whether it’s a little bit or a whole lot, darkness comes with addiction. The darkness is the part that I didn’t want anyone to see. It was my weakness. My inability to have self-control. It was my inner critic, my inner bully and my inner enemy. It was the other side of the ‘happy-functioning-woman’ that was me in the light of day, it was my dark-soul’s sadness that fought this addiction, that hated myself for having the addiction, that hated the addiction, but in the same day, would turn around and feed that addiction. I hated this part of me…

In the midst of my downward spiral, the darkness in my soul took over me. It became more of me than any sort of light that I had left. And in this time and space, I was a prisoner of my own mind. When things got really bad and I reached a point where I stole to support my habit, after the loss of my job, I was so blinded by this darkness that I had lost all sense of hope and of happiness. Those things were a figment of my imagination. I felt completely helpless and I had no idea how to pull myself back up, out of this dark place. I had no clue where I was ever going to find the strength to be me again. After about six months of living this way, I felt like I had completely forgotten who I was. I had lost myself in the dark abyss of addiction.

As a result of my actions and very bad choices, I woke up in prison. I was given a short sentence, compared to some, but it felt like an eternity to me… someone who has always been free to do what I want. There I was. Stripped of my identity, I had nothing left. I had nowhere to go. It was in those moments when I found my clarity, my strength, I began to find myself again. Instead of making excuses, I told the truth. And in those truths, the freedom came. I began to break the chains that I had carelessly placed on my soul, the chains that kept me down in the dark for so long, the chains that were heavy and painful, the chains that I hated. I began, inside of that prison, to feel free again for the first time in almost a year… a very long and painful year… the year that was the conclusion to the divorce/trauma, any of the reasons that I used to justify why I was feeding an addiction that I hated, and killing myself each and every day.

imagesCAVFA3CM …why was I giving all my strength to something in which I wanted to be free from?

Inside those walls, behind the gates and barb-wire fences, I began to give my strength to myself. I was cleansing myself of the toxins and the poisons in which I carelessly put in, and I was healing. You could see my eyes again, they were clear and bright. My soul was waking up after a long time being lost in the darkness.

imagesCA1I708Q Forgiveness starts from within…

I guess my point here is this, even in the most terrible of circumstances, like losing everything and rendering yourself in prison, you can still find things to be grateful for. Like me, I was grateful for another chance, an opportunity to ‘correct’ myself. A place to find myself again and start back on the path that I once was on… Living my life. I was humbled more than I can try to explain. I learned the meaning of self-love again, and I felt the concequences of not loving my own soul. I understood the meaning of having nothing. This was one of the greatest lessons I learned, among many others. Forgiveness had to take place in order for me to ‘feel free’ inside that place. Forgiveness was the key ingredient in breaking the chains on my soul. Today is the first day of the rest of my life… let’s see where it will take me…

That’s all for now…

~ Jen

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