I have sat down to write this article many times already and have come up fruitless However, the New Moon always provides me with great inspiration and clarity, so I feel it will all come together in this moment. Christina, one of the creators of Girl Gift Gather, is the one who opened up my awareness to this power and for that I am forever grateful. She and I have been in each other's lives for many, many moons and from just outside the chaos she witnessed my descent into addiction and subsequently, my rising-of-the-Pheonix experience in recovery, which is what I will try to focus on here and now. I am very humbled to share a piece of my story with you & hope that through my honesty, someone's heart will find an openness where before there was only a closed door.
So like I was saying, I'm an addict in recovery. I'd like to take a moment to acknowledge that addiction is more serious than ever. The number of drug-related deaths that take place each year has been steadily rising for over a decade. These numbers don't even include the suicides that take place because addicts finds death more appealing than continued compulsiveness, or the "died suddenly" OD-omissions in eulogies written by families, too ashamed to bring light to their loved ones' fatal habits. The truth is we need to wake up as a society and see that addicts are our friends; they are our neighbors, our cousins, our baristas, our teachers, lawyers, uber drivers, even our partners - addicts are everywhere. The problem lies in the fact that when people think of drug addicts they think of the ones trapped in active addiction; liars, thieves, drains on government programs, deadbeat dads, and so on. No one thinks of drug addicts as kind, introspective, altruistic, passionate individuals who seek to do good for the benefit of all, but I am here to tell you the latter is the absolute deepest truth I've come to know.
I crawled into recovery on December 27, 2013; 15 years after my first drink. I was 27 years old and my near-lifeless body had been carried out of a music venue the night before by a dear friend who I now consider a guardian angel. I know the exact moment my partying went from recreational indulgence to gripping necessity, but I'd rather not dive into the specifics. What I will say is that when I woke up that day I knew something had changed inside of me. I was given the gift of desperation and I was ready to face the truth. I knew I needed help, so I reached out to a family member who at the time was 25 years sober. He nudged me onto the path of life I still trudge today, one where I am surrounded by love and support, guided by soulful inspiration and honored to be of service to the world as best I can.
Early recovery meant turning my life upside down, shaking it until all my pockets (and closets) were empty of lies, secrets, and skeletons. I had to make peace with what lay before me during that process and own up to the kind of person I had been presenting to the world through my actions. It took a lot of work to forgive myself and mend the relationships with others that I'd frayed. I cannot tell you how many times I burst into tears on buses, subways, and long walks simply because I hadn't felt an unfiltered feeling in a decade and a half. It meant getting back up in life, planting my feet firmly in the ground and being sturdy enough to stretch my hand out to pull up the next girl who had fallen.
My life today has little resemblance to the one I left behind. Before I found recovery I prided myself on being Queen Party Girl. Getting backstage at a concert was my only aspiration in life; I had no goals or ambitions and certainly wasn't looking for ways to improve my community or humanity as a whole. Floating through life aimlessly, I spiraled out until I was circling the drain.
Through spiritual practice and a supportive community comprised of the firemost sober women, I've learned how to make sense of my emotions and experiences which gives me the power to navigate life in a purposeful way. My feelings were too intense for me to handle early in my youth which is how I ended up soothing myself with alcohol in the first place. "That which pulls us off the path is that which brings us back to it" - thus is my story with addiction. What initially was an analgesic for my pain ended up digging a far greater wound than my initial emotional scrapes. When I woke up that fateful morning & had the choice of continuing to numb myself or look my truth in the eye, I was finally able to choose the truth. I'm grateful for every minute of my journey, because it all brought me to here-and-now, a place where I feel a sense of precious belonging.
In recovery I've found my calling; I'm a second semester student at the Swedish Institute of Health Sciences on my way to becoming a massage therapist. This discovery was made slowly and gently through intimate meditation work with a mentor I cherish dearly. I've learned to express myself in ways I only dreamed of when I was still drinking and drugging, like the year I spent doing stand-up comedy in clubs & volunteer improv with special needs children. Most recently, I connected with Miracle Messages, a non-profit that uses the power of social media to connect people experiencing homelessness with long lost loved ones. 40% of the connections made through this process result in those people moving from the streets into the homes of their families and friends, a statistic that brings me to tears every time I say it out loud. I'll be volunteering my time helping them set up their chapter here in New York. It's a project that moves me deeply and it is an honor to be able to serve those who have lost their way and voice. Today I live a life I can be proud of with passion, a clean heart, and a still soul.
The truth is, I am one of many. I have met thousands of people like me and know there are hundreds of thousands of us across the globe. I won't ever deny that addicts will steal your wallet and lie to your face - but I want it to be known that addicts in recovery make the world a better place. There's a specific flavor of compassion, humility, and empathy that comes from living through the wringer that is addiction. We've seen the ugliness of humanity within our own selves which makes it nearly impossible to judge others. When I see a person struggling today, my instinct is to find a way to help. We all are subject to the tale of the two wolves and being that I found a way to change my spiritual diet, I feel it my responsibility to help those who are still on their way.
Pamela Mahler is a massage-therapist-in-training residing in Brooklyn, New York. She practices mindfulness meditation, aromatherapy and yoga regularly to remain a clear vessel for her clients. She is passionate about helping the homeless, people facing addiction,and their loved ones; if you feel moved to reach out to her regarding any of the above (or for any reason at all) please send an e-mail email@example.com.