Saturday, 4 October 2014

You hold the key to your prison door. Open it!

“Feelings of fear, rejection, upheaval, and embarrassment can only stand in the way of my recovery if I am willing to let them.” – From the book “Sharing Experiences, Strength and Hope

I really love this quote. In the case of addiction, we experience these negative feelings because of the stigma that is attached to the disease. This stigma can be crippling, if we allow it to be. In fact, many of us are as frightened by the stigma as we are of the disease itself. I certainly was.

I had so many reasons why I had to keep our son’s addiction a secret, including the fact that we didn’t want to be unfairly judged. We suffered in silence for a long time until something happened and our secret was made public. There was no more hiding it. That was one of the worst days of my life, but it also turned out to be one of the best things that could have ever happened to me. It freed my family and me from the stigma prison.

All of a sudden, friends and acquaintances began sharing their addiction stories with me. While it was sad to hear that they were going through it as well, it was also empowering. We were not alone in this.  I began talking to more people and got stronger with each conversation. I am still talking.  

Stigma loses its power over us when we finally accept our reality for what it is, and stop worrying about what others think. This is a big step in the healing process. It frees us to take the steps necessary to get help.

When it comes to the opinions of other people, just think back to how little you knew about the disease before it entered your life. How you judged people because you didn’t know any better. Like the rest of us, you quickly realized just how wrong you were. The people who judge are no different. They don’t understand. We do. That is why we can’t let their ignorance keep us stuck in a really dark place.

You hold the key to your prison door. Open it!

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