“Gratitude opens the door to…the power, the wisdom, the creativity of the Universe. You open the door through gratitude.” – Deepak Chopra
In a word, today I am grateful.
Seven months ago, I entered an in-patient treatment center, broken and battered. Not in the physical sense; psychologically, mentally, and emotionally. And in my opinion, that’s worse.
On the outside, I might have appeared to be OK: I had a good job, a car, friends. But I knew I could lose all of that in the blink of an eye, the way I was living. I was out of control: using anything and everything I could get my hands on. I was hospitalized on several occasions due to my drug use. The last time I woke up in the hospital was the Monday after my 32nd birthday which fell on a Saturday night. Do the math: I binged hard for two days resulting in a hospital stay. I remember being in the ER, my mom standing at the foot of my bed while the nurse asked me to perform a few simple tasks like make a smile, form a sentence, and raise my hands above my head. I was groggy but I knew what they were doing: they were making sure I hadn’t suffered a stroke. Apparently, I had been found on my bedroom floor, unable to get up or even speak coherently. I watched my mom as she stood there. The usual look of worry and concern that hung there had been replaced with something else, something that made me feel even worse than I already did. What I saw in my mom’s face was disappointment. More than disappointment: she was fed up. I knew that there was no room for messing up again. I needed to make a change.
For 5 more months, I struggled with worsening depression, guilt, shame. I toiled over what to do next. I knew I had to do something but I wasn’t sure what that was. I knew treatment existed but I was scared to death of the idea. I think I was afraid of what I was: an addict. I still didn’t know that I was an addict. My denial was so great. My life was growing increasingly out of control. I finally accepted that I needed professional help. At that moment, I decided to seek help in the form of in-patient treatment.
Instantly, I began to feel better. I felt relief and something else: gratitude. It was almost a foreign feeling to me to be grateful. Virtually my whole life, I experienced anger, depression, resentment, and cynicism. But, upon finding treatment, I felt thankful firstly that something like that even existed and secondly that I was given the opportunity to get help in the form of treatment. I was getting a second chance at life. And I was grateful.
After making the decision to get help, everything seemed to fall into place. Don’t get me wrong, there was a lot of work to do and I had to be the one to do it. But I wasn’t alone. I had a team of people: therapists, doctors, nurses, staff, and fellow addicts supporting me in the fight for my life. And for that, too, I am grateful.
Learning about addiction and accepting that I am, in fact, an addict was a bit of a struggle at first. Now, I embrace the fact that I am an addict. This may sound weird but, I learned that being an addict means that I have many gifts to share with the world – as long as I don’t use drugs. And so, I am grateful to be a recovered addict.
Today my life is awesome. I have never laughed as hard or slept as well as I do now. I have true friends who support me; my relationships with my family members are stronger and better than ever. I have a passion for life. For the first time, I have goals and aspirations and the confidence to achieve them. And above all, I have something that I never had before: inner peace.
In gratitude, all things are possible. And being grateful is a choice that starts with me.
Cheryl Steinberg aka Cheryl Maryland is a thirty-three year old loving and compassionate woman who hails from, you guessed it, the awesome state of Maryland (blue crabs!). She holds two Bachelor’s degrees: Sociology and Spanish and also can communicate in American Sign Language. Originally a social worker, Cheryl has, at times, traded in her do-good-er cape for a spatula, slinging yummy organic food at a local market. She even went as far as to try her hand as a chef in an Indian restaurant (her samosas are to die for). Currently, Cheryl plies her trade as an Addictions Specialist with Your First Step. She enjoys stuffing her face, doing yoga, and enhancing movie-goers’ experiences with her hilarious commentary. Next on her list: roller-derby!