How to Get Through Your Darkest Days: Lessons from Addiction and Loss

“You are never ever more powerful … than when you land on the opposite of despair.” ~ Zadie Smith
In the last years of my twenties, my life completely broke down.
I d moved to Hollywood to end up being a star, however after a couple of years in Tinsel Town things werent panning out the method I hoped. My crippling stress and anxiety kept me from going on auditions, severe insecurity led to binge consuming almost every night, and an inability to truly be myself translated to a flock of fair-weather buddies.
As the decade injury to a close, I came across the last lethal active ingredient in my poisonous lifestyle: opiates. A few little pills prescribed for discomfort unlocked a part of my brain I didnt understand existed: a calm, confident, and numb variation of myself that appeared method more workable than the over-thinking mind-chatter I was used to.
Initially the pills were like a casual extravagance– I d pop a couple of prior to a nerve-wracking audition or very first date, the same way other people may have a couple of beverages before going out on the town. But my casual relationship to opiates was temporary: soon the pills were no longer booked for uncomfortable dates or nerve-wracking auditions, and instead required for any kind of outing or interaction.
I knew I d crossed an invisible line when I began to feel sick without a “dose” of medication. The physical discomfort they d been prescribed for had long diminished, however they d developed a requirement that just grew with more use. Soon I became sick if I didnt take any pills, which is when I started going to any lengths to get more.
I desired a lot to stop but felt trapped on a horrible trip: I d wake disliking myself for what I d done the day previously, and with deep shame I d vow earnestly to quit– then afternoon would come and with it, withdrawal signs. As my stomach would turn and my head would spin, I d lose the willpower to stop and begin searching for my next repair. With that fix would come a couple of hours of relief, followed by another cycle of self-loathing, a vow to quit, and more failure.
It was a spin cycle that likely would have eliminated me had life not intervened in methods that at the time felt devastating; in a period of 2 weeks my “typical” façade collapsed and, with it, most pillars in my life. Like a home of cards falling, I lost my task, vehicle, relationship, and was kicked out from my home.
It seemed like a cliché nation song where the vocalist loses whatever, except in those songs that person is generally likeable and innocent– but in my story, I felt like the bad guy.
As I viewed my whole life fall apart around me, I felt no choice aside from to return home and look for the shelter of the only individual who had always been there for me– my mommy.
The mommy who had raised me with morals like generosity, honesty, and responsibility, although I had not been living them for a while. The mama who had actually struggled raising 2 kids alone, gotten us off food stamps by going to nursing school, and who watched helplessly as I came down into the same cycle of addiction that had taken the life of my daddy.
She informed me I could remain if I was sober; I swore to attempt, though I d stopped believing my own pledges long before.
In the healing program I discovered right after, there was an oft duplicated stating on every wall: “its constantly darkest prior to the dawn.” If taken literally, it makes you think of how dark the night sky is prior to dawn breaks … how heavy, looming, and consuming. Before the light returns, it can seem like the darkness will never end.
That was how my early days sober felt.
However as I cobbled together a few weeks and then a couple of months, I began to feel the faintest little rely on myself. Through abstinence and treatment, mindfulness and a sober community, the hopelessness that had actually appeared so all-consuming began to crack open and allow some light.
I vacated into my own apartment or condo, went back to school to complete a long-sought college degree, and had a waitressing job that I enjoyed. Just after I accomplished one year sober, I got a phone call from my sibling that would alter everything.
” Melissa, you require to come home,” he said, his voice thick with tears. “Its mommy.”
My stomach dropped as I grasped the phone, all of a sudden feeling about five years of ages. I d discover later it was a heart attack.
I felt the darkness descend once again.
–.
In the days that followed her death I felt like a reliant child that was unable to care for myself. I dragged myself through brushing my teeth, dressing, and arranging her funeral; it seemed like my heart had actually stopped together with hers.
The exact same thought kept circling around the drain of my head– how can I live the rest of my life without my mother?
I couldnt think of not having her at my graduation, wedding, or when I ended up being a parent. Her disappearance from my future raised a dread much even worse than that of the previous year– but as I began to settle into my sorrow, I recognized I had a path through this minute, if I wanted to take it.
The tools I d forged in sobriety would prove to be useful in the dark days that followed. I share them below as an offering for anyone who takes a trip through a dark night of the soul: basic steps to keep in mind when you cant see a course forward.
Take things one day at a time.
In sobriety, you discover that imagining your entire life without another beverage or drug can be so daunting that you just offer up and get packed. Rather of borrowing future concern, you learn to stay in the week, the day, and the minute.
I didnt need to know what having a wedding without my mom would resemble– I simply needed to eat breakfast. I didnt require to picture my graduation– I just required to get myself through one more class. As I pieced my future together one moment at a time, I discovered that I might manage the emptiness in bite size pieces. I didnt need to figure all of it out– I simply needed to keep going.
Permit feelings to rely on and come that they will go.
I didnt desire to feel rejection, so I contorted myself to be liked; I didnt desire to feel unhappiness, so I busied myself with the next activity. Rather of running I d discovered to permit; instead of busying myself I d been taught to turn toward pain and trust that it wouldnt last forever.
It wasnt pretty and it felt horrible, however when I let the grief shake through me. I discovered that there would constantly be an end … that at the bottom of my spiral a thread of grace would appear, and I would be able to go on.
Inform the truth.
From a young age, I felt far more comfortable in a mask of smiles and jokes than sharing how I was actually doing at any given minute. Though getting sober had helped me shed layers of the mask, I still found myself trying to likeable, approved-of, and “excellent.” As sorrow zapped my energy and ability to make myself tasty, when people asked how I was doing I started to be sincere.
Sharing the discomfort I felt after my moms death was like standing naked in the middle of the street– I wasnt utilized to crying in front of individuals and didnt think they d like me when they found out I wasnt constantly “enjoyable and easy going.” But it was exactly this kind of vulnerability that permitted real buddies to emerge, old connections to deepen, and the assistance I wished for to appear.
Permit yourself to be permanently altered.
In recovery from dependency, I started to believe of my sobriety date as a 2nd birthday– the start of a real new life. The method my former life had actually burned to the ground was painful, I welcomed the chance for a new start.
However when my mama died, I didnt understand that losing her would once again spread me into a thousand indistinguishable pieces– pieces I kept attempting to fit back together however werent ever going to be the same, since I wasnt.
When I allowed my life, relationships, and concerns to be changed by my grief, I discovered a self that was more powerful, more resilient, and somehow more tender. I never would have selected the form of this lesson, but I came through these experiences a more authentic version of myself … an overarching objective of my life.
*.
Its now been 7 years considering that my mamas death, and Ive been sober for 8. As my journey continues to unfold, I never lose sight of how damaged I as soon as was and how dark things seemed. I likewise know that the battles of life arent over; theyre part of being human and living a complete life.
Something I now keep in mind is that its constantly darkest before the dawn– I know I dont have to always see the light …
I just have to keep going.

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I knew I d crossed an unnoticeable line when I began to feel ill without a “dose” of medication. I desired so much to stop but felt trapped on a horrible ride: I d wake disliking myself for what I d done the day before, and with deep shame I d vow earnestly to stop– then afternoon would come and with it, withdrawal symptoms. Prior to the light returns, it can feel like the darkness will never end.
I didnt want to feel rejection, so I bent myself to be liked; I didnt want to feel unhappiness, so I busied myself with the next activity. From a young age, I felt much more comfy in a mask of smiles and jokes than sharing how I was actually doing at any given minute.

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