A Glimpse of Despair

I am an addict named Sean. This is my first attempt at writing my story. I have a home group where I have made friends that use the word family and I like it. I call these friends family because they are just that. I watch how they love each other, they laugh with each other, they tease each other and they help each other. If that isn’t family then I don`t know what is. I work steps everyday and continue to learn and grow.

I was born February 18th, 1989 at I don’t know what time in the morning in a place known to me as Alphabet City. It’s on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and my mother was a crack whore there. I was born addicted to crack/ cocaine and HIV positive. I am told I came out blue and was born fighting for my life. It always gives me a sense of pride when my mom said I am a fighter, she said I always have been. I thank God for that characteristic, I consider it my greatest asset.

At the time of writing this I have 80 days clean and sober, give or take. Some days are absolutely wonderful, others are a battle with the depths of myself and the rest are blend of the two. Some have said one day at a time but I say moment by moment. My life is much more manageable that way. I haven’t yet learned to look to the future without feeling anxiety so I keep my focus on the present. I hear over and over again that God is in the moment and it is there I have experienced unexplainable miracles. See in recovery the word ‘coincidence’ doesn’t exist. That is simply the way God said hi or anything else He may be trying to say. Also, I refer to my Higher Power as God and He among many other words and recognize that you may not refer to yours as such or may not even have one and that is OKAY. Each and everyone of us has the right to believe and not believe whatever we so choose.

Today I live in a house through the recovery center I am currently receiving treatment at. Some people call it sober living, I just call it ‘halfway’. I go to groups 3 nights a week and I recently enrolled in school 5 days a week for a Business Office Administration program. In my spare time I go to meetings, go to the beach, the mall and spend time with my house mates and people I have met in the ‘rooms’. Each and every person I have met is amazing in their own way. I also greatly value my solitude but I be careful not to isolate. I spend this time ‘recharging’ and clearing away any negative energy I may have absorbed or created through fear. I do this through repeated prayer and meditation. Prayer is a loose term for me, it can range from being on my knees and expressing gratitude to walking down the street and speaking to my Higher Power as if He were right next to me. As for meditation it is simply practicing mindfulness. My therapist taught me a technique called ‘deep belly breathing’ and I have found much value in this. It expanded upon my basic understanding of simply focusing on my breathing. The places my mind has gone through meditation are unexplainable. Words do not exist to describe the images in my minds eye. Incredible and magnificent just fall short. Even while writing this I can feel tingles in my chest. I am falling in love with myself each and everyday in recovery, constantly discovering new things.

But how did I get to today? The short story is I spent a year drinking and smoking crystal meth while tormenting my fiance, neglecting my children and driving myself into a deep paranoid psychosis. My emotions became so unmanageable that the only way I saw out was swallowing a bottle of at least 30 Xanax hoping to kill myself. That was the most beautiful gift of despair I have ever received. It landed me 9 days in the dual diagnosis ward of a psych hospital. In there is where my journey of recovery truly began. I am grateful for every second in there, every experience and every person that crossed my path even though I spent most of the time thinking they were all just figment`s of my imagination.

The staff at First Hospital are among some of the kindest and most caring people I have encountered in my life. They showed concern and practiced patience, a shining example of what I forgot humanity could be. I had been so saturated with negativity and lies, drowned in darkness that I forgot light even existed. I had said I would write a letter expressing my gratitude for they were my first glimpse of dawn in a night I thought would never end. I have yet to write the letter but I suppose this story partially fulfills that promise.

While there I participated in morning and evening community meetings where we had assignments and group discussions that helped me to better understand myself. I thrived in that environment, quickly learning the power of verbally sharing my feelings and journaling my thoughts. They also allowed for AA meetings to come into the hospital several nights a week. This was my first real introduction to a ’12 step’ program. Somewhat reluctant at first I figured what could be the harm in trying. Slowly but surely I began to fall in love with the little sayings and the readings in the beginning of each meeting but what enamoured me the most was the way this one girl had a response for when they said certain things. It was like sitting on the outside of a secret society and I wanted in.

While there I had what was later explained to me as a ‘white light experience’. It was after a meeting, I had shared my ‘story’ for the first time. I walked out of the room where the meeting feeling as if a weight had been lifted off of my heart, I had this sense of freedom. I found peace in a sense of self understanding and this peace as if from within flowed out around me and everything around me began to make sense. Then as I walked down the hallway it was if I could see with two sets of eyes at the same time. The one God blessed me with to see the physical world and another for seeing beyond. While seeing the hallway with the former, in my minds eye opened the latter. I watched as the walls folded away from me, rolling into themselves as if brick was liquid and air. Not my body but my soul, a silhouette of blinding white light walked across space and time. I felt everything because everything was me and I was everything. I was overwhelmed with joy and at complete peace. The only thing that existed was the eternal present. Then brick by brick the hallway returned but the feeling remained.

There is a part of me wishing to say that was the end. That I walked around in a state of eternal bliss but that is not my story and nor do I wish it to be. I have found that desire removed through practicing acceptance. By accepting all that is and not focusing on the way I would have it I have begun to the see the pictures in the puzzle and not just it’s pieces. There is truly joy in this, at least for me. My brain is obsessed with understanding, obsessed to a point that when I couldn’t understand and manage the emotions that followed I attempted suicide.

That was my gift of despair, it was that suicide attempt that introduced me to recovery with an open mind. I am grateful for the experience, pain is growth or so I’ve heard, but I believe it to the fullest. => Sean McAllister

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