In my case, awareness is something that often comes in time. Either my eyes were closed or my attention was elsewhere, or rationalized—but something happened—something, like the turn of a switch, and then suddenly, the lights came on and my vision was cleared.
In my case, different scenarios led to different awakenings. As I see it, life is separated by different levels of awareness. And I, myself, have gone through different stages along the way.
One morning, I opened my eyes and realized that I had been sleeping in a bed, which was beneath a roof that was over a home that belonged to someone else. I realized that I had been living in a world that never belonged to me.
I looked around at the fixtures in the room. I looked at the photographs, which were hung on the walls. I looked at the artwork, the paintings, and the decorations around the house, which I called home.
Something changed—or should I say, something clicked. My angle of view was not different. The rooms, walls, and furnishings were all the same. There was nothing different or specific about this particular morning, except for this: my moment of clarity.
Everything around me symbolized a life contrived by an effort to fit or become proper. Nothing in the home belonged to me, but more, there was nothing about me that belonged to this home. Suddenly, my eyes opened wide and I was able to see all the signs I ignored for way too long. I realized my part in the complications, which otherwise, had either been washed away by denial or reconfigured into piles of acceptable lies.
I was aware—but awareness comes with its own difficulty. Once my eyes were open, it was impossible to close them again. I had the previous internal conversations about leaving; however, I lacked the courage to leave. In some way—even my poor relationships were used as a cover for validation. But in this moment, I realized there was never any validation, nor was there anything left to validate. I had the previous internal conversations, which demanded better treatment from those I surrounded myself with. I swore that that I would leave; I vowed to be happy and promised myself the change—but yet, there I was in my moment of realization—realizing that I never followed through and that I had long overstayed my welcome.
Upon my awareness, I opened my eyes and realized the signs, which were so blatantly obvious. Yet, in my race to feel “Normal,” I chose to look the other way. In my drive to feel accepted, or acceptable, I accepted the trade as a settlement to find a supposed happiness.
In truth, I sacrificed pieces of my own dream—not because my dreams were unimportant—but because settling depreciates value, and those who feel valueless seldom hold onto their dreams. Instead, they trade them away for a shot at this thing called “A normal life,” if there is such a thing.
There came a time when feeling unhappy outweighed my fears of feeling lonesome or left out. I came to a point where I grew tired of feeling passionless, or loveless, and empty. At this point, my anger took place of fear, and determination took place of depression.
Eventually, there came a time when the chains that held me back were no longer strong enough to hold me down. In other words, it was time to leave.
I remember that morning of awareness very clearly. This was the day when I decided not to compromise. This is when I took my life back and own my value.
Outside, the sun was shining. The weather was warm and the Month of June had just begun. Yes, I was frightened. There was a long list of fears that I had to contend with. But at least I was free.
We all have our own mental prison. Some are more literal than others, however, in many cases—the captive are seldom aware that they, themselves, have the ability to grant their own freedom.
And freedom—that too is a relative concept. There was a time when I was closed in a small, 5×9 holding cell. The man sitting next to me was bloodied and beaten by the guards that delivered him.
(Or so he said)
He was drunk and reeked of booze. The guards took away his shoes, which made the odor in my small cage even worse.
Shortly after a drunken outburst, the guards removed me from the holding cell and placed me in an empty one down the line. However, the cage was not empty for long. After sitting alone on a hard, wooden bench, and while trying to settle into the cold dampness of my dingy surrounding, the guards delivered another man to the cell. This one spoke with a heavy accent. But worse, he was preaching about Jehovah in poorly spoken English.
Eventually, he was removed and I was alone again. I was alone in a terrible place. I was closed in and removed from society. There was nothing about my surrounding that could be described as freedom—but yet—there I was, and for the first time in my addiction, I felt as if I were free.
I understand this sounds like a contradiction. How could anyone feel free inside of a holding cell while they wait for a judge to arraign them? Just because I was in a small hole without any natural light, and just because I was closed or confined, this does not mean I wasn’t free.
I was . . .
I was free because I was removed from a life that should have never been mine. I was free because I knew at minimum; the next day was going to be different from the ones before it. With regards to my start in sobriety, my moment of clarity came at the darkest of times. My time of awakening was not in the hours of a nod, or sparked by the madness of chemical reaction. My moment was not had while spilled on the floor in a synthetic bliss or its terrible aftermath. My moment of clarity came when I was stuck in a cage and taken away. This was my divine intervention
In my case, awareness comes in time. I now realize that freedom in not a location. Freedom has nothing to do with the size of my home or my ability to go or stay. In my case, freedom is a state of mind. In my opinion, freedom is a sense of ownership, and so long as I own my ability to think freely and own my value, I will never be held captive again.
I can’t believe how many years have gone by since I decided to make a change
Better yet . . .
I can’t believe how far I’ve come since then