My Secret.

T hank you so much for the encouragement you poured into me following my first blog. It gave me strength. If you missed it you can go he...

Thank you so much for the encouragement you poured into me following my first blog. It gave me strength. If you missed it you can go here.

“I am an Addict Named Ryan”

For those who have never experienced addiction, that statement has a tendency to seem like some sort of awkward announcement that addicts need to make within the first 5 minutes of a conversation. The thing is, usually that is not its intention at all. We are not declaring, with pride, our pleasure of being an addict. Nor are we, most of the time, trying to get sympathy or attention.

It’s a reminder. One I need. Every day. I have to start my day with it. I have to end my day with it. My addiction doesn’t define me. It is not the only thing I am. It does, however, have to be at the front of my mind. It does determine the choices I make on a given day. It is an awareness that I have to actively acknowledge to continue becoming the man I was made to be. It may change where I go on a given day and what situation I may or may not be willing to put myself in. I have a disease, but thankfully there is treatment.

There is a secret that resides in most if not all addicts. The most intriguing thing about this secret is that there is no secret, but we cling to it as though if you were to ever know, if you were to ever find out our world would literally crash down around us. We cling to it as though our world hangs in the balance. If you were to know our world would break into a million pieces and we would never get the pieces back together, nor would we even try.

The secret…

We are scared!!

I am scared!!

Aren’t we all? What separates us from the rest of the world? The answer to that question is where everything changes. On some basic level I think all of humanity has fear about life and the situations that they may arise on a given day. What separates most addicts from the rest of the world is why we seem completely unable to deal with fear like the rest of the world. Our fear comes from our comparison. If you can do then why am I unable to? That comparison causes paralysis in my life.

Why is this? Let me try to explain.

Have you ever had someone put into words what you have felt your entire life but never had words for? Not too long ago that happened to me. I would love to have been the person to come up with this perfect description, however, the credit lies elsewhere. I do want to share this story though. I believe it may give you a little insight into the mind of an addict. For those of you that are addicts hopefully this will help you down your path of discovery. Either way I believe the truth is helpful for everyone.

Many years ago, before Technology was such an easily accessible luxury for anyone who wanted or needed it. People had to get creative to find ways to help themselves. This is precisely what coal miners did. When they were in the mines they would take a Canary down in the mines with them. The canary was far more sensitive to the fumes and the toxins that miners would have to deal with on a daily basis. They would work tirelessly and when the canary died, they knew it was time for them to go. This let them know the toxins where approaching dangerous levels. They used the canary to tell them when they needed to start packing up and getting out. The Canary was far more sensitive to that part of the world. It was their barometer for danger.

If the world is a mine then I am a canary. I am more sensitive to what goes on around me. Things affect me more than they “should”. I carry more weight than most people. Not because I am a super sensitive and super spiritual person. But because I cannot ignore things like most people. I struggle to move on like others do. I carry and hold on to things until they eat me alive. When I let them eat me alive I need something to help me numb. I need something to bring me down from the pain. This is where my addiction comes in. I cannot escape the daily pain caused simply by what goes on around me, but I cannot turn it off either. So my addiction becomes my comfort. It becomes my only safety and my only guarantee that I can turn the down pain that a big mean world brings into my life.

I am scared for you to know that. I am scared for you to discover my inner struggles. I am scared for you to know that issues and situations that mean nothing to anyone else make me want to drink, lie, steal, run, and give up. It’s my secret and you cannot have it. I don’t want you to know me because I am too complicated. If you knew me you wouldn’t accept me. If you knew my pain you wouldn’t want to deal with it. So I walk through life trying to manipulate how you view me. Because if you knew the real me. You wouldn’t like me. If you really knew me you would never be able to accept me. If you don’t like me I simply won’t be able to bare it. Because if you don’t like me than I can no longer like that version of me. So I have to change or at least pretend to. This is how I receive love. It’s exhausting and complicated. It’s a dark place.

The problem now is that I can sit in a room full of people I have known for years and feel completely alone. Because no one really knows me and knows my pain. No one understands why little things can stop me dead in my tracks and why I seem to always be upset about wrong things. Or at least what other perceive to be the wrong things.

The problem is they don’t know. . . . Not because they don’t want to, but because I don’t trust them enough to tell them.

To be known is to be loved.

I am a canary and I want out of my cage. My cage of loneliness and pain. Trapped by the complexity of my own thoughts. Trapped by my need for even a stranger to love me. Trapped by my addiction as it screams at me that it is my only way out and the only way to make the pain stop.

If you are a canary this is a safe place for you. Comment. Encourage one another. Become known. We walk this journey together and together we change our outlook. Use this arena as a place to become known. Even if it is only this one area. If you already have a place where you feel known. Share that. Empower other canaries to become known. Share your story. We grow together. Your courage gives me courage. It’s contagious.

I am addict named Ryan. Because I am scared of you and scared to face the rejection that comes with friendship I don’t want you to know me. I am an addict because my fear owns me. It dictates my actions. For me. My journey is taking control of my fear. Owning my fear and overcoming it. My character is in my journey. My growth is in choosing every day to keep moving forward and continue to recover in spite of my fear. I will no longer wait the fear to dissipate. I will continue to show courage by doing the right thing even despite my fear.

My name is Ryan and I am a canary and I experience a great deal of sensitivity to the world around me.

My name is Ryan and I am in recovery, but I am never alone!

There is good news. We aren’t alone. People do want to know us. They do want to love us. The people that love you will keep loving you. If they don’t. You can still recover. You don’t have to isolate. You don’t have to run. I know the pain seems unbearable. I know then fear is crippling. I know that walking out into a world where you feel judgment just because of a look you receive at Walmart can make you want to give up and give in. It does get better. Day by day, moment by moment, and inch by inch.

I also know. Not everybody understands, but the people that love me, they kept loving me even when it didn’t make sense to them. Understanding is not a prerequisite for love. We are addicts. Love is a foreign concept. We have manipulated and misused it so much that it seems foreign to us. It gets better. Love is acceptance of people even if you don’t understand them. You are loved. You will be loved. You can learn to see love all around you. It just requires seeing the world as it truly is and not seeing it for what your addiction tells you it is. You will be able to accept love when you learn how to love yourself and you learn how to be your biggest supporter.

You have courage!! Some days just getting out of the bed is courage for you. There are people in this world that will never be able to comprehend an issue like that and that is ok. Your courage is still real. So show your courage. Be known. Because your courage gives others courage. We need you. Canaries bring a lot to the world. Be known, be loved, and be free!

I leave all my fellow Canaries with one thought. Remember the role the Canary played for the miners. They told them when it was time to go. They protected them from getting sick. They had a sensitivity that made them extremely valuable to the world. We bring good things to this world. Being a canary has its advantages. Greatest of all is that we can make the world a better place. Just for today,  I will walk in the truth of who I am. Just for today I will let someone see the real me. Just for today I will embrace that part of myself. When I begin to embrace it, then it’s not my crutch any longer. It is my gift, your strength. Just for day walk in courage. You can do it. I believe in you.


A canary who no longer wants to feel defined by fear.

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  1. Bravery is scary..... thank you for sharing.

  2. Thanks for commenting. It is very scary. Dont give up!

  3. There is nothing harder than being an addict deep in his or her addiction. There is no hope, love is a foreign concept. Addicts are very selfish people. They only care about themselves and trying to ease their pain. Recovery on the other hand, is an incredible journey. Imagine the joy you experience when you have helped another addict make it through the day clean and sober. Imagine the peace you feel when your recovery has advanced to the point to where you think of others and what you can do to help them rather than where can I get my drugs! You never know how you will help someone. Sometimes just sharing at a meeting will help keep a newcomer clean for that day. Bravery comes from honestly doing steps 5 and 9. Yes, I mean approaching all of those you have hurt (your sponsor will help you), and asking for their forgiveness and trying to repay them. Successful recovery demands bravery and with bravery comes peace and joy. While I have 16 years of recovery under my belt, this means nothing. We are all in this one day at a time. Humility and recovery go hand in hand. I am clean and sober today by the grace of God. The work I put into my recovery was inspired by God. There is nothing I could have done on my own to achieve a successful recovery. Recovering addicts are all walking talking miracles!!! Stay the course, use the steps (don't just recite them), go to meetings, help other struggling addicts, find a GOOD sponsor. Then watch how God changes your life!!!


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