If you are anything like this recovering addict (me), you would know that when I first started treatment, the last thing I wanted to do was identify with others. Doing so was one of the biggest suggestion our counselors gave us, but my mind was not open to the idea. I was more of the addict that liked to compare myself. In reality, I wanted to convince myself I was better than the disease of addiction. I told myself, “I wasn’t that bad,”in order to continue my use. I thought that this rationalization may convince my family and friends, who were hoping I would “get it,” this time in rehab. If only I was not an addict after all, I won’t have them on my back.
I did not want to hear anything about “my will” versus “God’s will” at this point, so I was running my own program while in treatment. Since I knew best, I was very positive this time and believed things would be different. I changed the type of pill I used and decided it was not going to bring me to my knees like before. I made a decision – if I only use these pills, and keep my use under control, I will be ok. Sadly, we know how this story ended; once I got out of treatment the relapse came right after the plane landed in New Jersey. This “different substance I could control,” brought me to my knees. Once again, I felt like a failure! Why couldn’t I just control it? How did it get so bad again?
I was in a dark place wanting to die because my addiction was worse than ever. I was far from having the power to stop even if I wanted to. I was terrified to ask for help so I just wanted to give up; I had lost all hope. I figured death would be the only way to solve the problem and stop hurting my family. If I was gone, they no longer had a daughter that was a failure and would not have to worry anymore. By some miracle, my higher power did not let me die, there was a bigger plan for me. My family had an intervention when I was discharged from the crisis unit, and I agreed to go to treatment. I was broken, I finally surrendered.
When I went back to treatment this time, I started to “Act as if” or “Fake it until you make it”; meaning even if I didn’t want to, I pretended until I actuality want to. Not being able to look at myself in the mirror, I was willing and open to trying anything!. When I started to compare myself or judge others I pretended I wasn’t until I truly wasn’t. When I was listening to someone struggling at a meeting I didn’t care what the person was saying- I just listened and “acted as if” until I did have empathy. The days I did not want to be sober out of jealousy of the people drinking and it looked like they were having fun, I “acted as if” I too was having fun until I was. I had way more fun than I ever had drunk! This all probably makes me sound silly, but when you start to “act as if,” it will happen before you know it.
At the end of my addiction, being so defeated by drugs, “acting as if” turned out to be the way I saved my life. It all comes down to action and faking my mind into action when I was unwilling . This minor action became the turning point of my sobriety. I still practice this today, and I challenge you to “act as if” today and discover what actions you are capable of that you never thought you had!