Just like it states in one of my favorite songs, “I get by with a little help from my friends”. In my personal life, friends really are the family I choose for myself. I feel that because of an unstable upbringing, and the lack of ability my family had to meet my very basic needs, I learned at a young age to become self-reliant. Unfortunately, children can not raised themselves in a manner healthy enough to productive members of society with the coping skills I had learned. The other unfortunate piece is that my immature and underdeveloped best thinking landed me on a troublesome path. Self-will run riot is what I call it now that I am a bit healthier than before.
Asking for help was not something I knew of, and I was taught that if I ask and receive help; I would pay dearly for it later. I was taught that the world was an ugly place and to “just deal with it”. Needless to say I dealt with it the way I learned how from my family which was to drink and use for each and every emotion.
At 16 years old, and a cocaine habit, I knew I had a problem yet could not ask for help. At 18 years old I relocated to California, changed addictions to methamphetamines, quickly developed a new habit and a pregnancy and still could not ask for help. At this point in life I am 18 pregnant and can not stop using while pregnant, I knew I was in big trouble and still had no where to turn if I wanted to. I married a friend of mine in the hopes that we could work together to raise my child. I first warned him of what he was getting into. After the glory of infancy, my child learned to walk and talk, becoming a little bit more independent, I returned to my old behaviors, and eventually left my good friend who was also my husband.
For the following three years, I abused meth again, I volunteered for one abusive relationship after another and just spiraled into an out of control and pitiful life. While selling meth to support my child, my habit, and myself I felt like I was on a continuous merry-go-round that I could not get off of. For someone living my lifestyle, I always knew I was different, however I had no idea why. I had attempted to return to school before, and that didn’t work out. Every time I tried to help myself, it never worked out. Self-will run riot. I desperately wanted something better and had no idea how to get it.
Eventually one night I got busted, and I remember wondering whether to be scared or relieved. Through the drug-court program, and not my first attempt, I eventually got some help…. From the courts. I was placed in a long-term treatment program for substance abuse that was designed for pre-natal women and children. The first night I was there, I cried with relief. I had probably cried for the first time in as long as I could remember. It felt so good to have my will out of my hands. This is where the magic began for me.
While in treatment there were group therapy/addiction education classes all day, every day. For me it was like earning a PhD on the subject of Kerry Ann. Through these groups, 12 Step work, and one on one counseling I learned many things. One on the most profound things I had heard my counselor say to me was, “Kerry Ann, why does everything with you have to be a business transaction, why cant you just accept something without feeling obliged to give something in return?” I responded that, “That is the way the world works, everybody wants something and there is nothing for free.” This may be true, a lot, but if we surround ourselves with people who are not using, we might discover something else.
For me, an addict in recovery, asking for help has a life or death value to it. If you can ask for help, you can live; if you cannot ask for help, you die with your pride. Learning to let go, and allow others in to your life for any reason is opening yourself up to vulnerability, however alternative is to risk relapse and death.
Being in a place where you need to ask for help can bring huge feelings of powerlessness, fear, anxiety, and they all lead to relapse if you do not ask for help. On a daily basis, I have not only ask for God’s help, but the help of my fellow NA’s and AA’s in order to sometimes make the simplest decisions. My life, my daughters’ lives depend on the humility needed to ask for help.
I still try to suffer alone all the time. Thankfully I get by with a little help from my friends. When things aren’t going my way, when I am frustrated, when the bills are bigger than the income my friends help my out by going to coffee and helping my keep things in perspective, help to remember to have gratitude for all of these “luxury problems”. When my father passed away, my friends were there, not my family. They loved me when I was suffering, and they did it for free. This is a concept I couldn’t understand. Just recently when my daughter got injured and had surgery, families who know me and how busy we are knew that just because I have an injured kid, I still have to live as quickly as always, they made food for my family. They did it for free, they did it so I could be there for my child without stressing on feeding and cleaning and driving and going bananas. They did it because that’s what friends do. I do get by with a little help from my friends, and thankfully I have them. I had one friend who never left my side this past two weeks. She drove for me; she made lots of phone calls for me because people actually cared what was happening. Help, I may struggle to ask for it, but when I do, I get it, and it’s free.
How does it feel to ask for help? It is really hard, but it gets easier. For me to name a time where I asked for help; every single day. Every single day, every single decision. I know for this addict, when I stop reaching out, and I stop asking for help I will be participating in self-will run riot, clean or not and that is not what I have worked so for. The most important time I have ever asked for help, was when I called my probation officer and told him that I could not stay clean, even while pregnant and that I needed help. It was the best phone call that I ever made; in fact it saved my life.
At this time in my life, asking for help is not as hard as it used to be. I have accepted the fact that we all need help, and it is ok to ask. Whether it is a small task, like laundry or a large task like loaning money I am always there for others and I like to help out. When I see a woman who looks like I did 13 years ago, alone, and desperate yet stubborn, I will offer what I have and I will let her know that it is ok to ask for help, it just might save your life. Being in a severe spot where you need to ask for help in my world is dark, scary, lonely, and fearful in fact terrifying. But if I practice asking for help, as stubborn as I am, my blessings will keep pouring down on me as they have for the past 13 years.