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When Recovery Begins

image by Brandi Redd

I wonder, when did my recovery begin? Not when I began to abstain in 2008. The feelings woke up. Fairyland, "numb world" stopped. I began to wake up.

I took myself to my brink in 2014-2015, emotionally and chemically. My legal brink too. Now I see the trauma. This was the real start of My Recovery.

The Rehabs and detox, cells, courts, orders, grief, family courts, guilt, pain, shame, torture, confusion, loss, gain and acceptance were all part of the process I suppose. Dark times.

But the realisation that I'm in charge of me and my choices, responsibility for myself - that I had always avoided - probably hit me.

Having an unplanned child to a man I had tried to love but couldn't was a huge shock at the time. Especially after a pregnant, violent attack, (perforated ear drum and very distressed,) then a week later being disowned by a guardian I had always viewed on a pedestal as a child. Someone I unhealthily attached to at a very early age was destroying all, through jealousy; their own insecurity and fear I now see. I began to crumble. The trauma started. 2010. My daughter came unexpectedly at 31 weeks, a sign of my distress possibly. A little sparrow. The pain of just seeing, touching this little bird in wires.

'At some point on my journey, my freedom began and it grows'

The time before I left him in 2014, from maybe when we met, is a muddy, unclear, messy, and distressingly uncomfortable, confusing time. He was my medicine but I allowed him to destroy me with his being. No reason to blame, or throw fault, two people in a wrong relationship can destroy, one or both, and it happens.

Today, these experiences are my journey, and precious to how I feel. Comfortable, peaceful, sometimes still, sometimes speedy, strong, a pillar with a soft pink fluffy centre, fun, open, caring, giving (with boundaries) and non judgemental. I suppose more balanced, accepting, expressive, imperfect, flexible and free. So free. This freedom is what I try to share with my patients.

At some point on my journey, my freedom began and it grows. Sometimes daily, sometimes from an event, or pain, or happiness, watching life, watching people. Listening to people and myself. Caring and helping, reading, music, art, time and learning.

Did I realise in 2014 that I could live with a free mind? Never.

I never wanted to die. But I knew I was in my own Hell. I don't use the word Hell lightly, I was crippled emotionally, lost, a battered shell, an empty being in tatters with a very broken heart and a head of ashes. I had allowed life, people and things to pretty much beat me, my responsibility was giving me insight, I didn't have to let it carry on. That was when my recovery began.

'..this life thing, that we can't control, we can improve'

I always had hope. My daughter and my parents. And I knew, with every mashed up piece of me, that despite everything, I was loving and caring to others. And this never went, I was going to be the caring, listening, understanding, supportive, open, reliable (as possible), warm and available mother. As my parents had been to me, I knew I was more than able to do that, always. I am extremely lucky, and I think this when I speak to my patients, that I have two very robust, caring, solid, feeling, supportive, protective, loyal parents, who look at me now, and I know are so proud, it makes me so happy I cry. Tears of joy.

And that's why I do what I do. Because I want to share my hope, my experience, my strength, my pain and the struggles. Because although there are always hard times - this life thing - that we can't control, we can improve. If we want to, with help.

Authors Bio


Naomi Kaneko-Carnes is an addiction Counsellor & CBT Therapist, studying MSc Applied Psychology, Addictions/Behaviourism. She is also a member of board of trustees of Greater Manchester Mental Health Foundation Trust, volunteer of the committee working with HMP Forest Bank prison regarding substance misuse. Work on Addiction/detox/dual & poly diagnosis unit at Prestwich Hospital.

In Naomi's words she is 'Mother of one beautiful 6 year old girl, blessed to have her as born at 31 weeks (2lb). My hobbies & interests are many; being half Japanese I enjoy Japanese food, travelling, reading, people, fashion, clean eating, local art, volunteering and Coronation Street.'

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