A few months ago I was contacted via Facebook on my Clean Life.Clean Home. page by a counselor at an alternative high school about twenty minutes from my house, asking me if I could come to her school and speak to the kids. She had Googled recovery and her zip code and I popped up her search. WOW!!
When I read her message I totally freaked out. I thought to myself “ME?!?! She wants ME to speak to high school kids?!?! Absolutely not!” So I copied the message and sent it to my mom, who was super excited for me and said that I absolutely would go talk to them because I have a story to tell and even if one person in the room got something out of it then it would be worth it. After my anxiety calmed down I decided my mom was right, I messaged the counselor back and said I would do it.
Today that day came. I felt the nervousness and anxiety creeping up on me last night. I read over my notes from my conversation with Shane Watson from Not My Kid, he speaks to kids all the time and was kind enough to give me some pointers, I played it over in my head everything I would say. I stopped by an 8am meeting that is literally one minute away from the school, to see if any of my friends were there to give some words of encouragement. NOBODY was there! At least no one that I knew, so I left and sat outside the school for about twenty minutes checking the place out. I had thoughts of backing out last minute. But then I figured I have already been through hell and back with my addiction, I CAN do this!
I spoke at the Ready To Shine event in March so why was this such a big deal?
It was pretty cool meeting the counselor for the first time. We had texted so much that it felt like we had already known each other for a while. I told her I talk to her more than I talk to my fiends that I’ve actually hung out with lol. Crazy how that works. She told me to relax, this is not a big deal, these kids are awesome. You’ll see, she said. She was right.
I got up there and told my story nothing like I had planned, it felt like my voice was shaking the whole time, I held back tears which is not easy for me when talking about my kids, and I know I left some things out. Surprisingly though, I’m not over analyzing everything that I said. Mainly because I can’t remember everything that was said which happens when I’m super nervous but also because before I went in I asked spirit for the right words to come through me, the words that needed to be heard at that moment.
What was said was what needed to be heard.
At the end of the talk I asked if any of them had questions, one person asked a question and it was a teacher. Then the counselor asked if there were any questions and no body asked one single question. I smiled but in my mind I was like “I totally sucked!!”
While thanking my friend for inviting me to speak, one of the girls came up to me and hugged me, she told me she was proud of me. Wow. Another one told me of being in the same mental health hospital my son has been in. There were multiple high school kids waiting to talk to me after the other kids had already left. I couldn’t believe it! It makes me cry thinking about it. They were so sweet, so kind, so young. So much life ahead of them. I can’t believe some of the things I heard. It makes my heart hurt for them. It also makes me grateful that my kids don’t have to see me intoxicated ever again. It makes me so grateful that I am here today to tell my story.
Then it dawned on me, I know why this is such a big deal! I see myself in them. I see the ME in high school that was trying so hard to fit in, feeling unsure of myself, misunderstood, craving acceptance, uncomfortable in my own skin. I feel for them. I want to hug them all and tell them that it does get better, that they don’t have to go down the same miserable hard path I chose. I wish I had had someone in high school get up in front of everyone and tell their ugly messy truth, someone to say Me Too, maybe I would have chosen another path? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know.
What I do know is when I left the school today I felt a high no drug or drink could ever compare to. Hearing their stories and connecting with them meant more to me than I could ever possibly explain. Their smiles, their hugs, their bravery. It took so much courage to come up and talk to a complete stranger about what’s going on in their lives. I know I would never have done that at that age. I’m so proud of them and will never forget this day for as long as I live.
Going to bed with a grateful heart tonight. It’s true when people say “Sobriety delivers everything alcohol/drugs promised”.