John Taylor is sober today, and that’s all that counts.
“My name is John, and I am an addict.”
These words used to mean so much more when I was active in a 12-step program and in my own recovery.
They used to mean more than just another part of my self-description.
Nearly eight years have passed since the first time I said those words in a meeting. Almost eight years since reaching the decision that this disease would either kill me, or stop having such a powerful grip on my life. Have I been sober since that day? No, I have not.
I have been sober today. Right now, that’s all that counts.
Before my treatment for addiction, I had been treated for depression twice: first when I was in high school, then in a hospital during my freshman year of college. I guess I was too intoxicated to realize it at the time, but perhaps the use of illegal drugs, or the abuse of legal ones, contributed majorly to my depression.
That’s why we call it “hindsight.”
Eight years later, I have found that neither struggle has gotten any easier. The events in life that we are never quite prepared to deal with are a bazooka shell to the fortified walls I have tried to build around myself. In my weakness, I have failed to maintain the integrity of these walls, allowing too much through.
My experience with depression has never been a great one. What I mean to say is, who has a “good” experience with depression?
I’m an extreme introvert. I am an extreme self-critic. It really doesn’t take me long to convince myself that nothing is worth anything, that life isn’t worth anything. It’s easy to focus on what I have done wrong, versus what I have done right, on what is “wrong” with me instead of what is “awesome” about me.
I’m not too fond of taking antidepressants. They don’t really seem to help that much. I remember taking them in the past. Not very effective.
So what is my tendency? To hide behind cough syrup and caffeine. To drink until I can do nothing but laugh. Seems a lot easier and a little more fun doesn’t it? Truth is, it’s not fun at all. It’s not easy, it’s not glamorous, and it’s not cool. It is destructive, forceful, and unacceptable in my life.
I am tired of being a coward.
Accepting that things may not be okay is not the hard part. Not for this dude, anyway. What makes things all the more difficult is setting out to change them. Setting out to be okay. It’s like going through physical rehab. There is going to be pain that has to be accepted in order to heal, and return to normal activity. So it goes when dealing with depression and addiction.
There are going to be many demons to face and closets to empty. Frankly, I am scared to turn the door knob. It is easy for me to see my issues. Not so easy to face them. Yet, healing calls me to face them once and for all. Progress calls me to finally lay to rest those things that I have not been able to put down before. My well-being calls me to man up.
I’m not okay, but I accept that. I accept that I am not “damaged goods” or “irreparable.” I am not wrong for being not okay. I am not a monster. I am not defective.
I am a man. I am a human. I have feelings. I have strength, and I also have weakness. Show me one man on Earth who has no weakness, and I will show you God, walking amongst men.
Call me a baby. Call me a “whine-o”. Call me whatever the hell you want.
But me? I call myself a man. A man who has had enough, and is ready for something better. A man wanting a better life for himself, his family, his world.
Is that so wrong? I’m going to do more than just “suck it up.” I’m going to sucker punch the hell out of my life. That’s my masculinity. That’s my choice. This is my life.
And it’s all I have.
Photo courtesy of S. Diddy