Principals, Values, Beliefs

My journey has not been easy, but the gifts of recovery have made up for all the challenges in my life. As early as I can remember, I felt different, apart from, always out of my element, never satisfied, or comfortable. Being different from other kids was troublesome because I could not explain how I felt. I was a rough and tough kid, always playing with the boys, getting dirty, and in trouble trying to prove I was one of them; however, I was born female, and, as hard as I tried, I was never seen that way.

It wasn’t until my first year in college that I finally had the vocabulary to share what was going on. I am a transgender man: I was born in the wrong body, and my mind is that of a male. Being raised in a religious home did not help matters. I was berated when I tried to discuss my feelings, as they went against everything my family believes. I was an attention seeker, grasping at the love I so deeply wanted to feel. I was rebellious and pushed the boundaries in every way to get what I wanted. I received messages that I would never amount to anything, was a constant problem, and, if I were more like my sister, things wouldn’t be so hard. These messages have been one of the more difficult things to overcome in recovery.

My addiction started when I was 15 with an eating disorder. My life felt completely out of control. I knew God hated me, and my parents weren’t thrilled about me, but one thing I had control over was how much food I put in my body. I was obsessed with how much weight I could lose and how people would praise my efforts. It became a race between the compulsion of depriving my body of food or whether my heart would give out. I was hospitalized and threatened with a tube for feeding.

When I stopped starving myself, in order to release the misery I had so deeply buried, I turned to self-injury. I became obsessed with how deeply I could cut, when, and how I could hide the scars. This form of addiction lasted for more than 10 years. The pain, anger, and hatred I had for myself ran deep. Hiding who I was and being a disappointment to my family, I thought I deserved to punish myself. The failure I felt as a human being led to several hospitalizations for depression and suicide attempts.

When I found drugs, I used them as a way to numb the pain, discomfort, and fear of being myself. I wanted to escape into the ease and comfort that drugs provided. I was able to forget about how much fear I possessed and how much I hated myself. Drugs became my go-to whenever I had a problem, was stressed, or felt inadequate. The more I used, the more I wanted to escape from the reality of myself and my life. After a time, using became a necessity in order to get through every day. Consequences ranging from hospital visits, vehicle accidents, a DUI, flunking out of school, and losing jobs and friends were not sufficient enough for me to stop using. The obsession and compulsion had infiltrated my life, and there was no way out, or so I thought.

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