How Addiction Has Taught Me to Live a More Intentional Life
I pledge to only indulge in things that keep me happy and healthy.
Addiction is a big part of who I am today.
Throughout my entire life, I have watched my dad suffer at the hands of alcohol. He is the true definition of an addict. His addiction has kept him from ever keeping a job and the revocation of his license. Those two things led to him living on the streets which aided his contraction of hepatitis C.
I have seen firsthand how ugly addiction can be. I’ve been exposed to it my entire life. There was a pivotal moment in my life when I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t succumb to addiction like him. I’ve always wanted to be more than a bottle of vodka, a bad temper, and lost dreams.
Today, I leverage the consequences of his poor decisions and use them to create a life that I am proud of.
I set foot into each day with purpose.
The second I wake up in the morning and my feet touch the ground for the first time, I immediately start making decisions that will benefit me.
I make sure that I eat a nutritional breakfast that will carry me through the first half of my workday.
I carve out time to think about what kind of day lies ahead of me and what I need to do to efficiently meet it head-on.
When I think about my dad I relive memories of getting off the school bus and finding him laying on the couch, beer in hand, watching T.V at 2:30 in the afternoon.
Absolutely no responsibilities, no obligations.
That has never been the kind of person that I want to be. I want my life to be full of life.
I surround myself with people that add value and meaning to my life.
When I was a teenager, I fell into the trap of hanging with the wrong crowd — people who I thought were my friends but weren’t.
The decision to surround myself with that type of group got me nowhere except a fast-track ticket to summer school because I failed my classes.
That is not the same rhythm that I keep as an adult.
Today, I know ambitious, caring, hardworking, inspiring, and loving people.
I can have conversations with my circle about work-life and aspirations to pursue my graduate degree.
I am very strategic and intentional with the people in my life. Not only that, but I am protective and proud of them as well.
I want to be someone who exudes that consistently and loudly.
I am in touch with myself and what I need to feel happy, healthy, and full.
I will never forget all of the times I would see my dad stumble through the door with a brown paper bag full of alcohol.
I always knew what it was. I feel like I hated the sight of it so much that I developed a resentment for brown paper bags.
Alcohol was and still is his ‘thing’ though — It’s what helps him get through life.
Even though it’s completely ruined his life and who he is as a person, it’s still the staple of his life.
I have found the importance of getting in tune with what my ‘things’ are and determining if they will bring me genuine happiness.
I practice self-control.
I take after my dad in a lot of ways.
We look like each other, we laugh like each other, and we think like each other.
But I am not him, I don’t want to be him. I don’t want to make the same choices that he did which caused his hardships.
With that being said, I have found that it is okay for me to enjoy a glass of wine with my partner after a long day at work or to gossip over a martini with my girlfriends during happy-hour.
I don’t have to run from the very things that took hold of him. I can still enjoy all things life because I practice self-control.
Being able to limit myself to a certain quantity and say ‘no’ when I am done is crucial to not only my physical health but my mental health.
I have passions that encourage my creativity and push me forward.
Growing up, being able to write was my saving grace. It was my peace.
I would journal about the mean girls at school and create stories about the boys I thought were cute.
Spending time writing was my outlet and something that kept me busy.
As a 26-year old today, I made it a point to incorporate hobbies into my life. Things that make me want to wake up tomorrow.
Having activities that stimulate your mind and keep your hands busy are integral to avoiding negative mindsets that can promote damaging behavior.
I still write. I’ve been writing every day for a good chunk of time now. I also love doing pottery, cooking, and hiking.
Those are my ‘things’.
How you can live a more intentional life:
I challenge you to take a good hard look at yourself in the mirror.
While you are looking back at yourself, consider the life that you are living. Is it one that when you are at the end of your journey you will be able to look back on and feel proud of?
I pray the answer to that is ‘yes’ but if it’s not, don’t worry. There are things that you can do starting right now that can help you achieve that life.
Be intentional — try to make decisions today, right now, that won’t only benefit you tomorrow but 5 years from now.
The things that you choose to spend your time on and the people that you decide to spend your time with can greatly impact you as a person.
What propels you forward in life doesn’t have to be the fear of developing an addiction. But, whatever it is, use it to create your tomorrow.
This story was originally posted on Medium.