Monday, September 24, 2012

Shame and Fame.




Are you totally sick of hearing me say I was on T.V. and such?  I know....

When I got an email for a media request from Hazelden, asking if anyone wanted to share their story about addiction, specifically addiction to Adderall, I felt very compelled to do it. I honestly figured they wouldn't want my story, but it turns out there aren't people standing in line to go on national television and admit that they are a drug addict who lifted pills off of their family members, only to end up addicted to meth. Make no mistake, there are plenty of us out there. Just maybe not as many with the burning desire to blab it all over town.

I feel like I told this story before, so lets just pretend I didn't, for the sake of me needing to come up with another topic.  Okay?  

At first, I was told that I could remain anonymous.  That they would black out my face, and that I could even have my voice changed.  I was totally game with this because then I wouldn't have to really explain anything to my family, friends (who didn't know) or my children.  But as I mentioned to a friend recently, I was no match for that savvy news producer.  She slowly talked me into the power of showing my face, using my name, and speaking out about addiction and recovery.  

There were a few things that were scary for me.  First, breaking my own anonymity, and the people in my program's reaction to that.  Again, what you think about me is none of my business...  I just didn't believe that at the time, and still sometimes don't right?

Also, my family didn't know about my relapse.  They didn't know about the meth, the pills, or a lot of what is about to be public.  I had kept that hidden because of shame, guilt, and since I am clean now, I didn't see where it was any of their business.  You have heard me say this too.  

My advisor from school  explained to me that the more I spoke up, and showed my face, proved that recovery is possible, the more I could have a tiny part to help shape, and fund the industry of drug and alcohol counseling.  Which is something I am passionate about.  And obviously something I plan on feeding  my family doing.  

In one week's time, I had Self Magazine, ABC World News Tonight, CBS Nightly News (for Project Sanctuary,) and CBS weekend radio show with Esme Murphy ALL asking me if I wanted to talk to them about addiction, or my family.  I didn't seek any of this stuff out (as the White Bear Press would have you believe.)  They all came to me.  At once.  Now, you know I do not believe in a specific god, or anything like that.  But it sure felt like I was supposed to talk, with all the different people coming at me.  It helped me decide.  I couldn't deny it really.   

The Self Magazine thing didn't pan out.  She was the first person I talked to about this.  I was going to use an alias name Lucy Smith.  Like, that's the most creative I could get.  Lame. She never did call me back.  I don't read Self, so I am not sure if they did a story about addiction or not.  

We all know how it has all worked out.  Almost everyone loves me still, and those who didn't love me before, still don't.  Not a big deal.  It was a bit hard on my kids at first, but now everything is back to normal, my 15 minutes of fame are up, and all is well.  Having that attention, and all of those cameras around me has taught me that reality T.V. is not going to be for me.  Of course, they get paid, I did not. 

Here is what I learned from that experience, and what I am so proud of. I learned that it is okay to trust my inner voice.  It felt very right to say yes to all of those above mentioned.  But it was other people's reactions, (some family members, some people in the program) who told me it would ruin my kid's lives or my program, that made me confused and second guess my decision.  It felt important to do what many thought was throwing myself and my family under the bus.  I trusted that feeling. 

After doing this and becoming more aware of the importance of being a voice of recovery, I was grateful that I did it.  Not that my pieces were as much about recovery as I would have loved them to be, I still put a face on it and can be proud of that.  I have no more smarts in recovery than anyone else who is here with me does.  In fact, I have SO much to learn yet from those who are in this ring with me.  But I can help show that recovery possible.  Even for sorry suckers like me.

We have people like Greg Williams, Kristen Johnston, and all kinds of strong, brave people doing everything they can to help people understand addiction, but even better, understand recovery.  It isn't so scary.  And it is possible.

We have magazines and websites like The Fix and Renew Magazine (which I write a little something for. I had to throw that in there) that are constantly talking about helping remove stigma and shame of this disease.  They have real stories about real life and issues.

There are organizations like Minnesota Recovery Connection and Faces and Voices of Recovery who promote recovery, advocacy, and whose whole purpose is to educate people on this public health epidemic.

My point to all of this is that my first reaction to all of that attention, and to do this blog, was maybe a deep seeded need for attention.  We all know I like it.  But to do this type of stuff, you have to like attention right?  Anyway, this has become much bigger for me by noticing and being introduced to others who are working tirelessly to help the addict/alcoholic that still suffers.  And even if I can do a small part in helping this cause, then my whole life is worth it.  Because addiction is chronic, sad, scary and fatal.  But recovery is the SHIT!!

And my fifteen minutes are up, which is fine with me.





4 comments:

  1. You're a gift sweet girl!! I am so proud of you for standing up and putting yourself out there. You are a voice that will help many. I so wish i lived closer. We could hang out and be friends. I could at least hug you and tell you how great you're doing for yourself and family.

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  2. Just found your blog - I am in recovery and I also work in the field now. I really relate to your questions about coming out about your addiction and recovery. The program where I work asked if I would share my story of receiving treatment there as an adolescent and now being a treatment provider. I was scared and unsure if I wanted to be that vulnerable, if it would blow my illusions about how I think people should see me. But I talked to my mom about it, and she said, "We have to tell people that treatment works." And that did it for me! The article comes out later this month and I'm still nervouse about the response that it will get. But I have to believe in the power of story. That's why meetings work, that's why this blog works, that's why connections heal - our stories. Wishing you the best in your recovery and your studies!

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    1. It is scary when you don't know how people will react. I was terrified. But most everyone was super supportive and I have made so many great connections because of it. Thank you for being that voice of recovery. It is going to save lives. Glad you found this!!

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    2. Hey lady! Just wanted to pop in and say hi, and let you know the article came out. People have been so positive about it and I'm really grateful. If you want to check it out, the link is here:
      http://www.centracare.com/community/spotlight/addiction_counselor.html
      Thanks!

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