I remember when I was deep in the thrones of my addictions (alcohol, drugs, and an eating disorder). I was living in the darkness. I felt alone and isolated. I didn't think anyone knew or could understand how I was feeling.
My identity was my addictions. I had no idea who I was.
This mentality and mindset was my reality up until a little over three years ago. I remember when I went to rehab, I thought I needed to stay for two weeks and break the cycle.
I was wrong.
Those two weeks turned into a few months and while I was down there, that innate light and spark within began to come to the surface. I was and continue to be a lucky one because the disease of addiction ultimately wants me dead.
I know many individuals who are active in their addictions. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 23.5 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs. That's approximately one in every 10 Americans over the age of 12. The harsh reality is that only 11 percent of those with an addiction receive treatment.
Addiction takes the lives of far too many individuals. Every day I hear another story about an overdose death, suicide, or drunk driving accident.
There is still such a stigma tied to the word addiction. It is looked at as a form of weakness, or poor self-control. That is so far from the truth.
So I choose to be honest and open about my recovery. I do not keep it anonymous.
Here are 5 reasons why:
1. Reduces shame.
I lived with shame and guilt running the show for years. I stuffed down every emotion I was feeling and got myself involved in dangerous and embarrassing situations. This cycle continued and fueled my addictions. By outing my addictions, I am able to give them less power and tap into the person I was truly put here to be.
2. It helps others.
I never thought that my story would inspire others. I never thought people would want to listen to what I have to say. When I opened up about my addictions, a new connection with others began. A sense of vulnerability I never felt before. I have thousands of people part of my SPARKITE community and by being honest and open about my struggles, I watch as it helps and heals others.
3. Let go of baggage.
Carrying baggage is detrimental. I did it for years. When I got sober, I cleaned up my side of the street. By letting go of this baggage, I am able to focus on the here and now. And with this mindset, I can focus on helping, servicing, and inspiring others. That is part of my purpose for being here and the more I block that off, the more self-involved and destructive I am with myself.
4. No more secrets.
Secrets have an ability to give some this illusion of control and a small high. There is a power play involved with secrets. I experienced this first hand. I hid my addictions and destructive behaviors from most people. At the time I thought it was normal. I didn't realize a life without secrets was an option. So when I let go of my addictions, I couldn't hide anymore. And with this, I don't carry that shame, regret, or disappointment in myself. I can show up and take ownership over my life now.
5. Authentic relationships with others.
Relationships can be tricky. This is true for anyone. In the past it was never about fully being there for another person. It was always about what could I get from that person to fill the void I felt within. I needed that validation and since I wasn't getting it from within, I turned to everything outside of myself. Ultimately, that didn't work. I can now have authentic and intimate relationships with others. This means addressing my needs and desires and instead of holding onto anger and resentment, speaking my truth. It benefits all involved.
-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.