Addicted to Pain & People
From as early as I can remember up until I was nine years old, I was sexually abused by one of my family members. I think a part of me knew it was something that shouldn’t be happening, but I told myself it was normal. The sexual abuse wasn’t malicious, they approached it as though it was a way to take care of me and love me when I was “sick.” Once it did stop, I was confused. This was all I knew about love. I didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting the attention anymore. As a result, I developed a belief that if I wanted attention and love, I needed to have problems. I became a very angry child. I acted out constantly. I knew no other way to be seen. From this my addiction to pain and people was born.
"If I allowed myself to feel the sadness that was deep within me, then they had won."
At the age of nine my family moved from upstate New York to Georgia, near Atlanta. I was in that weird stage of early adolescence. I had braces, my body was changing and I was trying to figure out who I was, all the while adjusting to a new home and trying to make new friends. Of course I wanted to fit in and be popular, and I had all of the other normal nine-year-old girl problems. What made it worse was the confusing, lack of understanding I had around the trauma I carried with me.
"I had never seen or heard of anyone self harming, but it became my first addiction at the age of 13."
Age nine to about twelve was a very difficult time for me. I acted out a lot in school and was on medications for ADHD, which made me different. I had friends, but they weren’t the popular friends that I craved. We were teased by others and I was always embarrassed to be with them. I tried many times to be a ‘cool kid’ but failed over and over again. I would say or do something that was different than what they approved of and felt constantly rejected. Because of this, I began to develop the belief that being my authentic self, in any way, was wrong; that I could only be loved if I was who others wanted. I felt like I was strange and that nobody liked me, and I was very reactive, making me an easy target for teasing and bullying. My anger escalated to the point where my mother couldn’t be in the same room as me. We would fight and yell at each other constantly. My parents began talking about separating and I was sure their marriage was suffering because of my behavior.
After a few years in Georgia, my father was promoted to a position that would relocate our family to England. At this point, I really wanted a do-over. I wanted to start over in a new place with new friends and have a second chance at being a new person. I was excited! I could be liked at school, I could have popular friends. Whatever it was going to take, I was willing and determined people would love me. That was what would make me happy. At least, that’s what I thought. We moved to a town near London, England in 2003. We lived there until just before my sixteenth birthday, almost three years, and I hated every minute of it. I had entered the experience with such high expectations and when I was unable to create the life I had dreamed of, I began to fall apart. I had a few friends but I still felt very alone. My mother and I continued to fight constantly and I envied my little sister for her ability to be ‘normal’. My behavioral outbursts continued to escalate. I started running away. I would yell and punch the walls. Anger was my only sense of solace, and it provided me with a release of emotions that I could not understand. I had convinced myself that crying was a weakness. If I allowed myself to feel the sadness that was deep within me, then they had won. Anger was all I had. I was so confused and had no idea how to be accepted or loved, which was really all I wanted.
School was a nightmare. I struggled to find my place and spent most of my time avoiding people. I would fake sick to skip classes, rush to get my lunch before others got there just so that I could make it to the bathroom, where I ate alone, without being seen, and skip homeroom at the end of the day so that I wouldn’t have to talk to anyone. Freshman year provided me with an opportunity to change that.
Because my high school had a high turnover rate, the freshmen would go on a trip with Outward Bound to bond. We went hiking, camping, backpacking, and participated in a lot of the recreation therapy type activities, which I love now, but hated back then. On this trip we were placed in smaller groups, and many of the popular kids were separated out. This was my chance to make some real friends, or so I told myself. I started hanging out with a boy named Alex. He was nice to me, even though his popular friends weren’t. We spent most of the trip together and I thought he really liked me. We kissed, but when he tried to push it further, I said no. I don’t know what he said to the others, but once we got back from the trip, nobody would talk to me anymore. I soon found myself without any friends and avoiding people even more than before. I was completely alone, at school as well as at home.
"I practiced fine tuning my skills in manipulation more than anything during those sessions."
I had never seen or heard of anyone self-harming, but it became my first addiction at the age of 13. I remember the first time I made the decision to do it, not knowing where I got the idea from. I had learned at a young age that I shouldn’t cry, yet I had all of this pain built up inside of me. I got to the point where I didn’t want to live anymore, but I also didn’t know how to die. Cutting became a way for me to release the pain. I couldn’t control my emotional pain, but I could control the physical pain. The moment I pressed a dull multi-tool blade against my skin, I became instantly addicted to pain.
The self harm was never about attention. I didn’t want anyone to know I was cutting, but because I was doing it on my arms, one of my peers noticed during gym class one afternoon and told the school counselor. As if the rumors from the trip weren’t enough, now I was some crazy attention-seeker cutting herself. I remember coming home from school one day and my mother was sitting in the living room crying. All she said was, “Why would you do this?” She didn’t even ask if I was okay, or try to talk to me about what was going on. Being addicted to pain became a way for me to survive. It was the only tool I had. Releasing the pain physically got me from day to day.
I had been in counseling for years, but I began having therapy for the cutting addiction and I hated it. I wouldn’t talk or participate during the therapy sessions. I hated that I had to be there at all. If I said anything in therapy, it was just to tell them what they wanted to hear so they’d get off my case. I practiced fine tuning my skills in manipulation more than anything during those sessions. The cutting didn’t stop, but I did learn that I needed to hide it better. I began cutting on my stomach and thighs. I’d spend hours cutting myself. I remember one time covering every inch of my body I could hide under clothing. The pain would linger for days, a constant reminder of the release I was able to feel.
Somehow one of the popular boys at school found me on MSN Messenger and we began talking. He’d ask me questions about myself and it seemed he really wanted to get to know me, but he would never talk to me at school. After a few weeks he started asking me for nude pictures. I immediately told him that I wasn’t comfortable doing that, but he kept pushing me. After weeks of him continuing to ask for pictures, I conceded. I told myself that this was my only chance to be loved, and reminded myself of what had happened the last time I had said no. He had specific instructions for the photo because he wanted to make sure it was me and not some picture I pulled of the internet. I wanted to be accepted so badly, and I guess I thought that if I did this, he’d want me more. It didn’t matter if it went against my personal morals or values, I had to say yes anyway.
"I soon began having thoughts of suicide as a means to escape"
Shortly after sending him the picture, I went out to a party. Everyone at school was there and I thought maybe I could talk with the boy I had been messaging. I was only there a few minutes when someone came up to me and mentioned something specific about the picture I’d sent that boy. My world slowed down and my heart started to race. He had sent it to everyone in the school. That night I had my first drink, not for fun, not to just try it, but to escape. After that evening, it was hard for me to get alcohol, and I soon began having thoughts of suicide as a means to escape for good. I felt that I had lost everything.
About a year and a half later, my family moved back to the U.S. and I couldn’t have been more excited. I was beyond ready to start my life over. Again. While in England I had gained some weight from eating my feelings and not being very active, but the summer we moved back, I began to be more active and lose weight. I spent the summer on the beach and boys started to notice me and talk to me as I lost more and more weight. The gratification I received from the attention after losing weight was almost as addicting as the self harm had been. So I stopped eating. I lived off of saltine crackers and cran-apple juice. My parents were clueless about my anorexia. I even remember my mother saying, “Hey you look really good, whatever you’re doing keep it up.” She finally noticed me. Finally, I was receiving a taste of the validation and acceptance from my mother that I’d been starving for my whole life.
I realize now that I quickly became addicted to pain, people, and to anything that seemed like it would suppress my self-hatred. I had this paradigm that I wasn’t enough; that I was a disgusting human being and if anyone ever saw who I really was, they wouldn’t like me. I started my junior year of high school in Georgia and quickly became more heavily acquainted with drugs and alcohol as a means to find that acceptance.
During my Junior year, I finally became popular. Everyone knew who I was and I went to all the dances and parties. I had friends to hang out with after school. I started smoking cigarettes because they did. I started smoking weed because they did. I would drink whatever they were drinking. Basically, I did whatever it took to feel included, regardless of whether or not I thought I should do it.
"I had that heart traced. It was my first tattoo and it sits next to my scars as a reminder."
I was inextricably caught in a web of pain, anorexia, drugs, smoking, drinking, and on May first of my Junior year, I tried to kill myself. I thought I had everything I ever wanted, but I still wasn’t happy. I got a bottle of extra strength Tylenol and swallowed them all, wrote letters, and went to bed before 7pm. At about 1:00 am my mother woke up and felt something was wrong. She came into my room, woke me up, and asked, “Is everything alright? You seem a little off.” I told her that I was fine and not to worry about it, so she left my room. As she walked down the hallway she heard me start throwing up. She saw the pills in my vomit and had my dad rush me to the hospital. They immediately pumped my stomach and did an activated charcoal treatment. My liver was starting to be affected due to the amount of pills I had taken, so they kept me in the ICU for two days before admitting me to a psychiatric hospital for a week. I remember asking for my sister to visit me in an attempt to show her how to live a better life than the mess I had created. I felt guilty and ashamed. My parents would come visit me and we’d have family therapy sessions together. I saw my dad cry for the first time during one of those sessions. He had no idea any of this was going on in my life and had no idea what to do.
After the psych hospital, I did outpatient treatment, which I bullshitted my way through. I didn’t know how to be honest and real. All I knew were the manipulation skills I had acquired in treatment while in England. Things only got worse after that. I went out every night until 4 am, if I came home at all. I was hanging out with older men, and drinking in excess. Any cares I had were gone. My parents had no idea what to do and eventually admitted me back to the psychiatric hospital. After a week, they decided that they were going to send me away to an adolescent treatment center for girls in Utah.
I walked into the treatment center thinking that I’d be out of there in three months because I knew what therapists wanted to hear and how to work the system. I made a good friend name Emily and we worked our way through the program, quickly becoming two of the leaders in the house. This awarded us extra responsibilities and privileges. We’d do all sorts of sneaky things to rebel against the program. We’d huff nail polish remover, one time we tried to smoke incense, we even drank toner. All of these were horrible ideas, of course, but we just wanted to get fucked up by any means. I was still addicted to pain and the self-harming continued, too. About 4 months into the program Emily and I made a plan to run. Of course, we failed in our attempt, which lead me into a deep depression.
We were both placed on “safety,” so we had to be with a staff member at all times. I was also placed on suicide watch, which meant I had to sleep on a mattress on the floor and wear scrubs. I didn’t have a room and all my possessions were taken away. I spent most of my time plotting my escape, whether that meant running away or killing myself. Once, I took a chance and ran down the hall to the bathroom, put my back against the door, my foot against the toilet, broke a hair clip and used it to cut my wrists repeatedly. I lost a massive amount of blood, and probably should have gotten stitches. To this day I still have scars from that hair clip. During that time in my life I found a release through journaling. I don’t recall ever writing anything inspirational. My journal was just complete chaos, but in one of the corners was a small drawing of a heart. I had that heart traced. It was my first tattoo and it sits next to my scars as a reminder.
Recreation Therapy Changed My Life
I continued to work the program, but I wouldn’t tell them exactly what happened to me as a child regarding the sexual abuse. I’d say things like, “It was a neighbor,” instead of telling the truth of it being a family member. I made up elaborate stories and picked and chose what truths to include. I had sat in numerous chairs in more therapists’ offices than I care to count. Each would ask me the same questions, “What is going on? What do you feel? Why are you doing the things that you are doing?” I had no idea and none of the therapy helped until I went to my first group session with a recreation therapist.
Recreation therapy was exactly what I needed. I wasn’t trying to call upon the events of my past while sitting in a chair in someone’s office. I wasn’t trying to analyze the emotions I wasn’t currently feeling. I was present. Engaged. And working on the moment. There was no time to allow my reality to become distorted or for me to disconnect entirely. Recreation therapy put me in a position to address what was happening as it was happening with the support of a licensed therapist. It worked for me. My brain finally understood what was happening and I started to understand why things were the way they were. It made the intangible emotions tangible for me. I stopped trying to remember some time two years ago when I had acted out and then attempt to process why. I was working on why I acted out in the group five minutes ago, while trying to problem-solve with my peers. My core beliefs were laid out in front of me because I was placed in situations in which they would be triggered. It was a new kind of therapy I had not experienced before, and it actually worked. It would take a long time after this to get on stable ground, but recreation therapy was the game changer for me.
I remember saying, “If you love me, you’ll just stop.” I know now this is not how addiction works.
Heroine and Relapse
After ‘successfully’ completing the residential program a year after I admitted, I was quick to latch onto a new group of friends. The majority of the staff at the center identified with the Mormon religion, so when I made the decision to stay in Utah for college, I decided that the best way to stay friends with them was to join the LDS church, too. I didn’t learn much about the religion but I enjoyed the excitement my new friends showed when I expressed interest in their church. I was the convert in my group and everyone liked me. They wanted to hear my story and it seemed like they wanted to be my friend. I didn’t know much about what I was doing, I just knew as long as I followed their lead, I had friends.
About six months later, a girl I knew in treatment, Mary, came to visit me. She was a heroin addict that had recently relapsed. I thought her visit could help her get clean. I looked up to her in treatment, and she presented herself as confident. I envied that. So when she decided we should find some drugs while she was visiting, I said, “Yeah, whatever you want to do.” My values, once again, went out of the window. Whatever it took to be accepted and have a friend I was willing to do. I had no understanding of healthy boundaries at the time and was incapable of saying no, so when we drove downtown and she suggested asking a couple of clearly homeless men where to get drugs, that’s exactly what we did. That night was the first time I ever smoked crack.
We started doing lots of things that I had never done and never would have done if I had any sense of self-worth, instead of needing to rely on people like Mary for validation. We went doctor shopping in search of pills, and she taught me how to abuse just about anything we could get out hands-on in the week she was visiting. Eventually, the roommates I had become suspicious, and when they found drug paraphernalia in my room, they called the police. In a matter of 24 hours I got kicked out of the apartment, my boyfriend broke up with me, my tires got slashed, and my dad flew out to take me home for a week. Everything I had begun building, I destroyed in the hopes of making someone other than myself happy.
After that I began to fall into another deep depression. I cried constantly and one of my friends even told me I was too depressed for her to be around anymore. My desire to remain sober faded. I reached out to a another friend from the treatment facility and started partying a lot. I tricked myself into believing that the people I was meeting truly cared about me and wanted me around. I continued to do things I did not support just to feel accepted by the crowd I was running with. It wasn’t until later that I found out most of the people in that group only kept me around because I was way worse than them. I had no limitations, no inhibitions, and would just keep going until I collapsed in a mess on the floor.
During this time I was introduced to Travis. He had a lot of problems and was a heroin addict, which I didn’t know when we met. I felt like I found a lot of my own worth in helping to fix other people’s problems, and I convinced myself he “needed” me.
A few months into our relationship I had a minor surgery on my knee. I was prescribed a large variety of pain pills. Travis told me he could sell them and get better pills, which is how I got introduced to OxyContin. The moment I smoked my first opiate was not some magical experience that you hear people talk about. I hated it. I didn’t want anything to do with opiates so I stopped, but Travis didn’t. This lead me to find out how bad his heroin addiction really was. I didn’t understand what addiction was at the time and had a hard time understanding why he couldn’t just stop using. He’d lie, cheat, steal and I just didn’t understand. I remember saying, “If you love me, you’ll just stop.” I know now this is not how addiction works.
By this time, I was so convinced I needed his love that I was willing to do whatever it took to stay with him. I spent months fighting him to get clean and let my self esteem take the brunt of it. Each time he would choose heroin over me, I allowed my sense of worth to decrease. Finally, on his birthday I made the conscious decision to become a heroin addict. I remember the moment very clearly. I rolled over in bed that morning and said, “I know that you are going to the city today to pick up heroin and I’m going with you.” I was sick of being second to heroin, and I knew I would never be first. I figured if I was at least equal then that was enough. If I was equal, maybe he could love me. Not more than heroin, but as much.
"The only way I could feel okay was to fill that gaping hole with whomever I thought loved me at the time."
It wasn’t long after I made the decision to use heroin that my whole life turned upside down. At that time I was in college, studying to become an elementary school teacher, and I worked as the manager of a store. Who would have guessed that within just 6 months I would be homeless and sitting in a jail cell.
Travis introduced me to a dealer that I started working for. He didn’t have a car so I would drive him around and he would pay us in heroin. He had a lot of money just lying around and Travis mentioned that he wanted more money, so I stole a few thousand dollars from him. When he found out, he duct-taped Travis to a chair, held a gun to his head, and told me to call my parents because he knew that they had money. I called my dad and told him I was in trouble and needed the money. It wasn’t hard to figure out that I had been consumed by the same drug Travis had. They didn’t send me the money and they asked me to seek help by setting up an appointment at a treatment center.
I knew treatment was in my best interest, but I couldn’t stand the thought of being away from Travis. When I decided not follow through with treatment, my parents completely cut me off. They took back the car they had bought me, withdrew the payment they had made toward my tuition and terminated the contract they co-signed at my apartment. My employer fired me when money came up missing from the deposits. My whole life went down the drain in about a week’s time. Travis and I packed up and left for his hometown because we were scared and didn’t know what was going to happen when we couldn’t get the money to pay back what I stole.
Things kept getting worse and worse, and we soon found ourselves sleeping in our car during the winter, with nothing to our names. Our days consisted of waking up, sick from withdrawals, and spending the morning panhandling until I could afford to get Travis and, hopefully, myself well. All I remember was cement, parking lots, roads, buildings where we would meet our dealer. All of it was cement. If we were lucky enough, some days I would make enough to stay at a Motel 6 for the night so we could shower and sleep in a bed instead of the back of our Jetta. When we didn’t have the funds, a friend that we used with would let us stay with her if we got her dope. She didn’t have hot water or power but we managed to find a way to boil water and pour it into the bathtub so we could get clean.
The evenings were always the same. I was miserable and would spend hours begging Travis to get clean with me. Every night he would promise things would be different, and every morning he would ask to pick up just one last time.
In addition to panhandling, Travis taught me how to steal and pawn items that would pay enough for us to get high. Whether it was breaking into people’s cars or returning items we stole to places like Home Depot or Walmart and pawning the gift cards, we made more than I could in a couple hours of panhandling. The adrenaline and chaos were addicting. My heart would race until the second I was able to get high and calm it. I loved the rush. It didn’t take long before we got caught. I was in jail for the first time in my life, and Travis was the one bailing me out. We made promises to stay sober each time we would get out of jail. We would last a week at most.
Things always picked up right about where they left off and continued on until one day, while walking to a Maverik, police came for us. Travis had warrants out so I told him to take off and that I’d deal with the cops. Someone had reported that we were breaking into cars, which I hadn’t done recently. But because I had a record for it, they didn’t believe me when I told them it wasn’t me. They arrested me and eventually caught and arrested Travis also. I told the cops it was all me, because I didn’t want Travis to get into any more trouble. I was still so convinced I needed him that I took all the blame. Looking back, I can see that I just hated myself so much that I felt worthless and empty on my own. The only way I could feel okay was to fill that gaping hole with whomever I thought loved me at the time. And for the previous two years, that person had been Travis.
Talking to the officer, I was genuine for probably the first time in my life and he really listened to me. I think he saw me as a person instead of a criminal, because he decided to book me, but not charge me with any felonies. I was only in jail for a week before being released on bail, but Travis was sentenced to six months.
I went back to treatment as a way to get out of jail and fully planned on staying only until my court date, but by the time the court date came, I wanted to stay. I had started to discover my worth in my time away from Travis. For the first time in my life, I set a boundary and followed through. I broke up with Travis and focused on building a life in recovery. I stayed inpatient for 90 days in treatment, followed by outpatient and sober living for six months. I starting going to meetings and made friends that were supportive of my recovery.
Rock Climbing My Way to Recovery
I finally discovered at least one key to ending my addiction to people while I was in recovery, and it was simply rock climbing. It filled the void in its entirety and became the new love of my life. In the rock climbing community, I found the connection that I had craved. I didn’t have to show up and be anyone else. There were no expectations of me. All I had to do was be myself and climb, which I loved. I found that while climbing, I could live in the moment and not worry about anything else except where my next hold was. I was terrified of heights, but that just made the adrenaline rush even better. I hadn’t realized it before, but besides being addicted to pain and people, I was also addicted to the thrill of getting the drugs. More so than the drugs themselves. Rock climbing allowed me to seek that thrill in a safe setting, while also providing me with something to focus on and utilize to better myself. I began to create a life that didn’t align with my addiction. Getting high and climbing just didn’t make sense together.
I made the mistake, unfortunately, of keeping the lines of communication open with Travis. Before long, I fell back into old habits. My addiction to people was still stronger than the morals and values I had begun to establish in recovery. I tried get clean again through an outpatient program, but I wasn’t ready. The pain of loving him had yet to surpass the pain of hating myself.
After several months, a shift began to happen. I wasn’t happy and I actually wanted to do something about it. I started looking into ways in which I could get clean again. My parents refused to support me financially to get me back into treatment, so I looked into trying the Vivitrol shot again. When I went to the center to talk to them, I ran into the owner, someone I had become friends with prior to my relapse. He was extremely generous and offered to scholarship me for a few weeks to help get me back on my feet. Those two weeks gave me the separation from Travis that I needed to finally cut that tie and move on with my life. I walked into the treatment center believing that it was truly my last chance. I did more work in those two weeks than I had my whole life and haven’t picked up a drug or contacted Travis since.
"I stopped talking about someday and starting making moves on the life I wanted. Today."
Continuation of My Addiction to People
My addiction to people, however, didn’t end there. I found a new love interest to latch on to named Justin. In the beginning things were great, as they always are, however it didn’t take long before his pain became evident and my needs took a back seat. He began to beat me, but only when he was drunk, so I justified his behavior, blaming the alcohol instead of him. I told myself I could ‘fix’ him. That it would all work out. I tried for months to convince him to stop drinking but I was in an addiction of my own. I remember one time when he stabbed me and cut his own hand in the assault, I bandaged him as my arm continued to bleed. He’d cheat on me and I’d forgive him. I’d tell myself that he was broken, but believed I could save him. I needed him so I could feel loved, worthy and needed. Nothing else mattered. I battled trying to both hold onto and end the relationship for a long time. I tried to get a restraining order on him and even got his parole officer to kick him out of the state of Utah. But my addiction was so strong that I’d get in my car and, before I knew it, I’d be driving to Wyoming to be with him. It was an escape for me. He, without question, was my drug of choice. Justin became my heroin.
In December of 2016, my co-dependency slapped me in my face. Our relationship had ended officially a few months before, but it took everything in me to set and maintain boundaries with him. I had finally come to the conclusion that our relationship was going to kill me and that my life had value. I cut off all communication and refrained from responding when he found new ways to reach me. The false belief that I was the only one that could save him began to subside when I realized that I was the only person capable of saving myself.
Still, his death was a hard blow. A few weeks before he passed I received an email. He had just gotten out of a residential treatment program, again, and he wanted to begin the process of making amends with me. For my own safety and sobriety I chose to delete the email.
On December 22nd, 2016, I came home from work to find two of my closest friends sitting at the kitchen table in our apartment. I had no idea what they were about to tell me. I remember us laughing and joking as I opened Christmas cards from my family. I’m sure delivering the message was something they had never planned on doing. I remember my friend Haley taking a deep breath and saying, “There is something we need to tell you.” As soon as his name came out of her mouth my heart stopped.
I was in complete shock. All of my fears became a reality. I had lived so many years of my life convincing myself that I could save everyone and neglected myself in the process. Now the harsh truth had been laid out in front of me: I couldn’t save anyone. My friends convinced me that I needed to get on the plane to visit my family for the holiday as I had planned. They drove me to the airport and that’s when the reality really started to hit me. When they first told me the news I was in shock. No one thinks they are going to lose someone they care so deeply for. I remember thinking that it had to be some sick joke, that he couldn’t possibly die. That this isn’t how things were supposed to happen.
I spent my Christmas crying on the floor of my bedroom at my parents’ house. I felt like I was dying. I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t sleep. I barely ate. All of the memories of the life we had planned on creating together raced through my mind. I knew that things had changed, but it wasn’t supposed to change like this. We were supposed to be happy, not together, but happy in our own lives.
Two months after his passing I found myself still struggling with the grief. I was trying to understand how I could live and not carry the burden of his death around with me. I had this idea of what life was going to look like without him, and this was not it. By this point in time, my hair was down to my waist. I had been saying for months I was going to cut it all off. I was sick of having to blow dry it so I wouldn’t freeze, having it get caught in doors or under the straps on my laptop bag. So I did, and it was exhilarating. It was sort of symbolic of me cutting off all of the things that were no longer serving me in my life. I stopped talking about someday and starting making moves on the life I wanted. Today.
I made a decision. I decided to stop living in so much fear. To stop being stuck. I wasn’t happy, and as the cliche goes- if you’re not happy, change something. So I did. I wrote down all of the thing I have always wanted to do, but never have. Little things like chopping my hair off with kitchen scissors or eating a hard boiled egg. And big things, like going skydiving. A lot of people make bucket lists and I’m sure you could consider this one of those. To me, it is just a list. Every week I push myself to do one new thing. One thing on the list. Big or small. So far I have crossed off over 50 things on my list. Things like:
“Cut my hair with kitchen scissors.”
“Hold a tarantula”
“Eat an olive.”
“Attend a silks class”
“Take Amtrak across America”
“Do a jump on a snowboard”
“Go Mountain Biking”
I changed my mentality from, “One day I will…” to “Today I will…..”
I went through my life constantly replacing my primary person. Sometimes that would be a friend, sometimes it would be a boy, but no matter who it was, that person got whatever it was they wanted from me. The primary person in my life was never myself. I was finally able to start setting boundaries and do a lot of work on self love. I had always been so scared to be alone. In the past, I wouldn’t even go to the grocery store alone, but I started pushing myself to go on trips alone. Hiking by myself. Taking myself to a movie alone. Just spending time getting to know and be with myself. It took a long time and a lot of hard work to start loving myself.
Today I am happy and healthy. I made the choice to put myself first and the blessings that followed have been endless. I am in a healthy, stable, supportive relationship. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly and a job that I love. I spend my free time crossing things off the list and taking care of myself. People ask me, “If you could change one thing about your past, what would it be?” I tell them, “Absolutely nothing.” Because if anything had changed, I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I am someone I have grown to love.