How I Discovered I'm a Part of the Human Race After All
by Rose Lockinger
Most of my life I felt different, separate from the rest of the world. I felt like everyone else seemed to have an understanding of life that I was missing. It was like I had somehow skipped the day at school where they handed out the instruction manual, and when I returned the following day no one filled me in on the stuff I missed. It was like I was an alien living on another planet.
I can remember feeling this way from when I was only six. As a child, I could never place words to it, but I just knew that I must feel different than the ways my friends must have. It didn’t really help that I grew up abroad and that I was the child of missionaries—most of my youth I blamed my "apartness" on my unique upbringing.
When we finally moved back to the States, the feelings of being different didn’t disappear. It meant that the theory that I was "just a missionary's kid" was wrong. So I started looking for other reasons.
No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to make meaningful human connections with others. And the explanation why this was the case kept eluding me!
I knew that my family must understand me . . . somewhat. Still, even with them I felt different. My parents struggled to understand me, and not just in the oh-she's-a-teenage-girl sort of way. There seemed to be a general disconnect between us that only further proved my point that I was detached from the rest of the human experience.
I started to believe that it must be my ADHD that made it difficult for me to connect with others. Honestly, for a long time I believed ADHD was the root cause of my problems. I figured that since my view of the world was entirely different than others' perceptions, I couldn’t connect. For a long time, this self-diagnoses was the only rationale that seemed to make sense.
By the time I finally started abusing drugs and alcohol, I already had established a deeply set isolation. A couple of times when I was a teenager my parents found drug paraphernalia related to marijuana and I was always able to assuage their fears that I was just experimenting. No big deal.
Pot was a social lubricant and allowed me to push aside my anxiety. I thought the drug energized me and offered a different perception of the world around me. Who knows, maybe I believed that everyone else interpreted reality like I was able when I used drugs. At least on the surface, I thought drugs allowed me to relate with my peers. One thing I loved about drinking and using drugs was that I no longer felt so alone. With drugs and alcohol, I thought life finally made sense.
We all know how the story ends.
The drugs and alcohol eventually turned on me. They didn't connect me. Instead, they actually isolated me even more. Toward the end of my active addiction, an all-consuming loneliness overwhelmed me. I felt totally alone, as if I were the only person on the planet. The isolation drove me further into my addiction as I grasped at what had once been a friend to me: my drugs. Like many suffering from addiction, I tried to find a solution in something that actually was making the problem worse.
One day, I hit bottom. An intense desperation flattened me. I realized that I had to find the hope that life could be different without a chemical solution to my problems.
Then, a miracle. My miracle.
I finally started to feel accepted by other people who felt . . . just like me.
The first time I attended a meeting, I heard the speaker say that she never felt like she fit in, how she believed that everyone else seemed to know how to handle life, and she just missed the class on how to be a human being.
I wanted to jump out my seat and scream. Yes!! I had never heard someone say the exact same thing I had been thinking all my life.
I knew that I had finally found my "tribe." I knew then that these were my people, because we were the same. Although the process to fully embrace my new identity took time, I knew I belonged.
I had come home.
In recovery, I was finally able to share my life with honesty. No more hiding! The freedom to be ME had been severely lacking for most of my life. I never disclosed who I really was, even as a kid. I was an expert with masks, donning whichever one suited me for the time. If you wanted me to smile, I just put on the happy face.
Once I got sober I stopped pretending. I began to be vulnerable. I finally started to open up and be honest about where I was. I asked for help and others gave it freely.
Finding sobriety removed the obsession and compulsion to drink and use drugs. But there was more! I can connect with you as a fellow human being! I no longer feel alone.
My friends in recovery know me inside and out. The link with them has become stronger than anything I ever realized was possible. These people have seen me at my lowest and still loved me. They showed me unconditional love and a deep compassion. They helped me to see myself through a different lens: that I am a valuable and wonderful creation meant to live for a purpose and meaning in the world.
I no longer feel like I'm an alien living on another planet. Today, I am able to face life on its own terms. I'm a successful and productive member of society. I no longer have to numb myself with drugs or alcohol. I finally feel like I am a part of the human race.
I am grateful. That gratitude compels me to give back to those who might feel just like I did. I want to tell them that they're not alone.
About the Author
Rose Lockinger is a passionate member of the recovery community. A rebel who found her cause, she uses blogging and social media to raise awareness about the disease of addiction. She has travelled widely across North and South America. A single mom of two beautiful children, she has learned parenting is the most rewarding job on the planet. Rose currently is the Outreach Director at Stodzy Internet Marketing.