Drugs had always been a hobby, a pastime, and for good reason…I was really good at them (for awhile). So it came with no surprise that a large part of my identity was based off drugs in one form or another. I never realized how little I knew about myself until I got clean. Counselors would ask me what I liked to do and I’d respond with generic answers, “I like to work out” or “I like music”. The empty feeling of answering those questions with forced, generic responses was in direct contrast to who I thought I was while using. In my head I was doing drugs because I was “so deep” and in touch with my thoughts. In reality I was just a scared boy with a beard and track-marks.
So when I got clean and the fog lifted, I realized that I was actually extremely shallow. I knew less about myself than most teenagers, and that terrified me. I never realized that growth was a process and it was SUPPOSED to be uncomfortable. There wasn’t a buzzfeed test I could take to tell me who I was based off my 3 favorite appetizers. It was my responsibility to figure that out, and that fucking sucked. I was not aware that in order for me to find happiness I would have to go looking for it. I just assumed that if I pretended to be a decent guy for a little while, happiness would find me and I could get on with my life.
But to my surprise, I was wrong. I have learned more about who I am and what I like through experiencing who I’m not and what I don’t. And how did I find this out? Experience. I finally started showing up for life. I realized that I had no idea what I was doing and I had two options: sit in my room and pretend I did resulting in further misery OR work towards something positive in my life for the first time ever. I wasn’t even sure who “myself” really was. But I knew the fake parts and how much I hated that feeling, so I used that as a guide for how not to act. The rest of it just kinda fell into place through a lot of awkward trial and error.
Messy, uncomfortable, awkward feelings have never killed anyone, but I’ve watched 9 people die in the past 2 months trying to find comfort. I cannot afford to seek comfort if I want to grow. “You mean I have to spend the rest of my life uncomfortable?” No, at some point along the process a switch flips, growth is no longer uncomfortable or comfortable, it is embraced and accepted as an alternative to misery that eventually develops into confidence and hope. There is a profound serenity that comes with that. I don’t have it all figured out, and I don’t claim to, but in the beginning I wish I would have realized how little I knew.