One Year Ago Today

By Cara JohnsonSeptember 24, 2015

365 days.
52 weeks.
12 months.
1 year.
1 year ago.

One year ago today, I was walking the streets, high as a kite. Drugs pumped through my bloodstream at a slow and steady pace, infesting my body like a disease. All I can remember is thinking I wanted more. More, more, more. Drugs had taken over my body like a sick form of cancer. My body had developed a need for it, a yearning for it. It was a prison ship and I its lonely captive. For what had seemed like so long, pills had been the captain of that ship, steering me through all the storms the sea could throw at me, plunging me into its depths each chance it got.

One year ago today, drugs ruled my life, inside and out. Despite the fact that I’d managed to hide my addiction from family and friends, it was affecting my ability to get out of bed in the morning. It began to keep me from class and rehearsal and spending time with anyone outside the confines of my room.

One year ago today, I wasn’t the same person because of those drugs. I was an empty shell that barely even went through the motions. I wasn’t living. I was just there. And I was there for the pills.

One year ago today, I looked in the mirror and saw what I was becoming. What I had become. I saw the circles under my dim and tired eyes. I saw the inability to even keep those eyes open. But more than that, I saw my broken soul in that mirror. I saw all the days I had missed, the friendships I’d lost, and the adventures ignored. I saw the look in my best friend’s eyes the first time she had found me using. I saw the disdain of the people I passed in public that watched me slip by in an intoxicated haze. I saw my worst nights playing on the mirror like a drive-in movie with a private viewing just for me. I saw everything I’d missed, everything the drugs had taken from me. Everything I’d taken from myself.

So one year ago today, I made a choice. I made a choice to live for the days I had missed and all the days that were to come. I made a choice to strive for a look of pride in my best friend’s eyes. I made a choice to heal my broken heart and find the pieces of my soul in the world around me to put it back together. I made a choice to pour the poison into the toilet and flush them, watching them swirl like a whirlpool. I made a choice to change; to change for me.

One year ago today, I knew that my decision would not be easy, and, my God, was that an understated prediction. I knew that every day I would have to push through the thirst and the need. Every day I would have to fight back the demons that begged me to give in to my own darkness. Every day I would have to remind myself that I didn’t need the drugs to be okay, to be me. Every day I would have to remember that just because the sun was setting, that did not mean it would not rise again the next day. Because it would rise. It would rise on a new bright day that was important for so many things, including sobriety.

But because of what happened one year ago today, I am sober one year tomorrow.

One year free of abuse and drugs. One year free of the storm drugs had put me through. Now, I’m not saying the year was easy. I’m not saying that every day wasn’t a battle. It was. But every day I fought the battle was another day one. Every day I continue to fight is another day won. So it’s one year free of giving in to my demons. One year free of letting them win and take me over.

And one year full of living. One year full of adventures and sunsets and sunrises and starlight. One year filled with smiles and tears, happy and sad. One year filled with love and heartbreak and a yearning for tomorrow. One year of dreams and goals and road trips and music and laughing. A year filled with feeling the rain on my skin and the sunshine on my face. A year filled with just feeling.

So today, one year after I made a change, I’m asking you to do the same. If you are struggling, if you are hiding behind your vices from a world you’re afraid of seeing. If you’re facing the demons in the darkness and feel like no one else is on your side. If you’re calling out in to the night and feel like no one can hear you but the trees, and even they are too busy bustling in the breeze. If you feel lost and broken and think you have nowhere to turn. If you are cold and scared and unsure of where to go. If you have been letting your darkness win out and block out the light for so long that you’re not even sure it’s still there. Remember: You have the choice. You have the power to cast the demons and the darkness back into the pits they came from. You have the strength to reach out and take hold of the hand that is grasping so desperately to pull you back into existence. You have that strength; you have so much more strength than you think. You have the choice to watch the sun set and then watch it rise again the next day. When you think the demons have won, when you think your vices have the upper hand, know that they do not. Remember who you are. Remember that you are not fighting alone. Remember that we are here and we are searching and fighting for you. I am fighting for you.

A year has passed, and I am no longer the prisoner on that ship. I no longer stand by and let the demons dance in the flames around me, mocking my desires, because the flames are no longer there.

One year ago, everything changed. And I have never seen a year so beautiful.

Cara Johnson is a TWLOHA intern. She wrote and published this yesterday on her blog. We are super proud of Cara and honored that we got to celebrate this special day with her. 

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Comments (15)

  1. Richard Brea

    Wow. How poetic, I also had one year sober yesterday. Congratulations Cara! This is amazing. Your piece hit home. I’m happy for you. 😀 Keep up the great work.

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  2. Kristina B

    Hi Cara. Your blog made me cry. I, too am over a year clean. I struggled with self-harm and it was so hard, and is still very hard, considering I’m drawing near the end of my high school career and the pressure is hard to escape. Your story gave me courage to keep going. Thank you so much.

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  3. Christina

    One day at a time became one year. And what a year to celebrate. Thank you for this. Your honesty. Beautiful.
    On Monday, I celebrated nine years. It’s not always been easy, but I don’t regret a second. Best decision of my life. Many congrats to you!!

    Reply  |  
  4. Dava

    I am thrilled you made a choice and fought your way back to life. I wish you nothing but happiness. Thank you for sharing & inspiring others. Be safe sweet girl.

    Reply  |  
  5. Nikki

    I am so scared to stop, I’m afraid of the pain of withdrawal, I’m afraid of facing the pain I try to use away.. I need help.

    Reply  |  
    1. bellla

      Nikki, I’m so proud of you for writing this. It’s such a step. Please if you can, take the next one. If you can, ask someone to walk with you. You deserve this. God bless

      Reply  |  
      1. Luciana

        I am so proud of you. It’s a huge step. It took so long time for me to be able to do it. Please, ask someone to walk with you. Talk to parents, friends, health professionals, anyone you can. God bless those people whom walk with me.

        Reply  |  
    2. Jordan

      You are not alone. You are not the only addict who happened her way to this blog, nor are you the only one who can’t seem to stop. But I want you to know, that even if your high reading this, that you matter and you are no less of a person for doing so. Sometimes it takes a while to find the right person to share all those dark secrets with, all healing takes time and that is OK. I hope that you can find someone or something to help ease the burdens you hold inside.

      Reply  |  
  6. Becca

    So beautiful. Thank you and congratulations <3

    Reply  |  
  7. Ally

    Congratulations Cara. For me it will be six months on October 1st. when i get stressed it’s tempting. but i tell myself “you are so much better than that. you don’t really and truly need that to get through the day.” and i walk away from it.

    Reply  |  
  8. Hope

    Thank you, Cara. As tears fall down my cheek, I know that I needed this tonight. Thank you for the reminder that just because the sun goes down, that doesn’t mean it won’t come back up again. I’ll be meeting the sunrises now, knowing that they will indeed come.

    Reply  |  
  9. April

    girl’s I know how you feel I still get depressed and sometimes I still want to commit family is different with me then my sisters I was 10 years old the first time I tried to commit suicide but I’m stll here. keep your head up things will be ok

    Reply  |  
  10. April

    At 14 I was drinking alcohol then it was drugs I have been clean for 16 years now

    Reply  |  
  11. Kim Kline

    AWESOME JOB!!!! Keep going every day, every hour, every minute and every second!!! I don’t know you but you sound like an incredible young lady. Keep that spirit! Life is full of ups and downs, you get stronger each time you deal with difficult times. I am so proud of you to share your feelings, so raw.
    I was directed to this site by a girl that committed suicide @ Mount Union University on 10/07/15.
    Hang in there sister! It’s a great Life!!! ❤️

    Reply  |  
  12. Siera

    Your experience is so encouraging. I am 8 months clean from pills. Fighting everyday in my recovery but I will take a hard day being sober then another good day in my active addiction. Thank you Cara

    Reply  |  
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