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.