Originally published at I Am Not Anonymous, 2017.
I am not anonymous because there is a transgressive power in openness.
I am not anonymous because addiction is an imminently treatable and curable public health epidemic in our world, and to make progress towards this understanding there must be people willing to stand on the front lines.
I am not anonymous because sometimes I am gregarious, sometimes I am closed off, but always I am in recovery.
I am not anonymous because I support science-based treatment that is accessible to all people, regardless of location and economic circumstances. And I will stand up for sensible, functional drug policy in my country.
I am not anonymous because I support the advancement of marginalized voices, including the recovery community. I am not anonymous because when I come to die, I want to have helped someone, anyone, everyone construct and live a better life.
I am in recovery because of three things: love, fighting, and life. My sister loved me enough to enable me to succeed in outpatient, secular, science-based treatment. My long and active addiction was present in my already incredibly dysfunctional family, and the commitment of a core group to loving each other and ourselves in healthy ways has been the grace that can heal the terror my addiction wrought. To love is the answer to so many questions.
After more than three years in recovery and more than three decades of life, I can confidently say that I love myself. I believe in myself and have learned to continue practicing humility and lifelong learning, but to shed the burden of questioning myself. As many trauma survivors, addicts, women, sensitive people — many people in general — do, I held a long and internalized hatred of myself as a close companion. Only through expanding my consciousness, active recovery, meditation, and a dogged practice of self-love, am I finally to a place where I can deprogram and transform in healthy and loving ways.
As much as I love, I have also had to fight. I’ve had to fight — first for my life, then for my mind, then for my heart, and then for my body — in order to secure and actively maintain recovery. Those closest to me have had to fight alongside me, and through this we have created transformative spaces for one another in this brave new world.
I also fight for others. For understanding. For decreased stigma and other barriers to recovery. For the dismantling of self-stigma. For science. For effective advocacy. For community. For disrupting the status quo to make room for a reconceptualization of substance use disorder, addiction, addicts, and systems that enable often fatal addiction. For sensible drug policy and criminal justice reform. For un-heard voices. For equanimity. For active listening and problem solving. For the modernization of treatment. For the constant fluidity necessary to achieve our non-anonymous goal: saving lives. Drug addicts are my people, and my people are dying.
The only way I know how to be is to love hard, fight hard, and to do it without being anonymous. I want to help others, destigmatize addiction, normalize recovery, and make myself and my loved ones proud.
If you have questions about addiction, recovery, mental health, safe drug use, how to contact your elected representatives or local groups in support of sensible drug policy and recovery legislation, criminal justice reform, secular science-based treatment and/or self-help options, meditation, therapy, self care, or anything at all, please reach out to a person or organization you trust, or feel free to find me on Twitter or Instagram @BRaeDotCom. I can help you find resourceful and navigable information with equanimity (non-judgement). Nothing is so dangerous it cannot be talked about. Break your silence and break the stigma.