It’s Never Wrong To Ask For Help

It's Never Wrong To Ask For Help | Transcend Recovery Community

Addiction is a highly personal matter. When you become addicted to something, regardless of whether it’s a certain behavior or a drug, it’s quite normal to feel guilty about it. We attribute our mistakes entirely to ourselves, and we’re right to do so – to take responsibility for our shortcomings.

Guilt is like pain and rejection. There’s a reason for these negative emotions, and they’re to help us improve. The person who has never felt guilty is no saint – they’re simply incapable of proper reflection. We’ve all done things we’re not proud of, but the defining deed is in how we improve on our mistakes. Through apologizing, displaying true humility and working towards avoiding the original behavior in the future, we grow. We become better people.

However, things take a wrong turn when guilt and shame don’t ever get the chance to turn to remorse and accountability. When instead of owning up to a mistake, it simply drives us to pity ourselves, and further do things that create a feeling of shame. It’s normal to feel guilty for doing something wrong – in turn, we try to avoid that behavior. But with addiction, which is repetitive in nature and often prevails even when we don’t want it to, the guilt only grows. And grows. And grows.

Some people take addiction into their own hands and realize one day that they have something more important to live for – something that feeds them emotionally enough to completely kick the habit, whether it’s smoking, gambling or cocaine. Others don’t have that ability – maybe they feel they have nothing to live up to, and the idea of an optimistic future falls flat on its face in the cycle of addiction and negativity. Regardless of whether it’s a question of circumstance or personality, many struggles with finding the motivation to stay sober, just as many with depression struggle to see things in a positive light.

It’s in moments like that where we must lay aside the fact that our behavior is our responsibility, and ask for help. Sometimes, we need help to clean up our own messes – and addiction is a mess. We must also realize that when we reach out to others, we’re not being weak. We’re being strong.

It Takes Strength to Admit Weakness

Sure, some might take it as a cliché, but there’s an important truth in realizing how much strength it takes to admit needing help. When we refuse the help of others, we’re telling the world that we believe in ourselves enough to solve our problems on our own. In cases where that’s true, it’s an admirable quality. Everyone should have the opportunity to struggle alone – that’s what makes us stronger.

But there are times when that struggle will just break us. And it’s timed like that where putting aside pride takes guts. Opening to others and revealing your every insecurity and personal issue just to improve takes courage. You’re at risk – placing yourself at the mercy of professionals, friends, family, and strangers pledging to help you. You must trust them, and put your situation in their hands – and hope that they will help you get through this.

In addiction putting your trust in others is especially difficult. Lying to yourself to avoid the harsh reality of addiction is often the first step in many roads to recovery – the stage of denial – so a recovering addict is only all too aware of how easy it is to lie, and put on a mask. Deliberately asking others for help, then, means taking the risk that it’ll all backfire on you because you’re willing to go that far for things to get better again.

Never Giving Up

Relationships work the same way, with rejection. Early on, after your first two or three relationships, getting back on the horse and looking for a new partner can be extremely daunting. Falling in love hurts, and every step you take towards becoming closer to someone in a relationship just means accepting a whole new magnitude of pain from the potential breakup.

Yet accepting that risk and going out there to find love anyways isn’t a sign of weakness, stupidity or utter masochism – it’s strength. The strength and confidence to take that leap, once again, without any guarantee of what the future will hold, for the promise of a loving embrace and a life time’s worth of memories.

With addiction, you must take the risk that others may help you or hurt you – and in return, you may find yourself surrounded by amazing, inspirational people, who motivate you to keep working on yourself, to keep on working on your projects, your hobbies, your career, and your relationships. If you refuse to get help, however, you’re depriving others of the pleasure of helping someone out, and you’re depriving yourself of the possibilities you’d have in the company of others.

Addiction Is (Sometimes) Part of Life

To be addicted to something is just another obstacle in life. Life can be full of obstacles. Getting laid off is one. Getting a divorce. Suffering from depression. Losing a limb. Losing a friend. Losing a home. Getting arrested for something you didn’t think through. Making a mistake in your most desperate hour.

The difference between the worst life and the best life sometimes boils down to just the tiniest of moments, a handful of seconds scattered throughout a person’s life. Yet it’s not up to the universe to decide how it all goes – it’s up to you. With every passing second, you have the chance to claw your way to where you want to be. You have the chance to ask for help. To ask for forgiveness. To heal wounds. To sweat, bleed and cry your way to better living.

If you want to overcome addiction, then you must realize that it’s just like any other obstacle. It’ll require time, dedication, passion. You’ll need something to fight for. Something that puts the fire in your soul, that gives you a reason to ignore every single negative thought you have because you know that if you don’t go to that meeting, if you don’t put down that drink, if you don’t ignore that urge, then you’re betraying your very sense of self. And if you don’t get back up and get back on track after making a mistake, if you waste time blaming things instead of improving, then you’ll never get better.

Do what you need to do – even if it means taking risks, and doing things you’re uncomfortable with, like making new friends, going to therapy, or entering a sober living home.

Asking For Help Is A Sign Of Strength, Not Weakness

Asking For Help Is A Sign Of Strength, Not Weakness | Transcend Recovery Community

The Expectation to Be Perfect

I always look back at my story and think of ways that I may have changed it in some way or form. Do I tell Mom and Dad when I start to feel different than the other kids my age because of how I’m being treated for being good at sports? Do I tell my coaches, my friends? Wait, I don’t have any friends really!! I can never remember seeing the star athlete, the class president, or the valedictorian stand in front of a group of his or her peers and ask for help.

Once you find any success, or are expected by others to perform exceptionally in some way, you almost always find shame in admitting that you’re feeling insecure. That maybe you can’t do this alone. The feeling that you got yourself to this place on your own and can deal with anything that may come your way, is empowering yet very misguided. I never really looked at how I was helped along the way early in my life. I was nurtured by an amazing family and community that allowed me to perform at a very high level. I accepted help in ways that I didn’t simply view as help.

Once I was placed on a pedestal for my athletic ability, throwing a football, my narcissistic personality ran rampant. I struggled greatly in High School because I wasn’t like the others my age. Knowing now that I was going to be part of something that only 1% of the top 1% ever get a chance to do makes it more understanding, but at the time I didn’t know how to cope. I am the only person ever from the State of Montana to be drafted into the NFL. I found myself in a position that no one in my community had experienced before, so by default, I had nobody to relate to in that regard and always felt out of place to a degree.

I reacted with profound judgment and fear when I was treated differently, and the only way I knew how to protect myself was through negative coping mechanisms. I pushed people away, isolated, and acted out behaviorally to make myself even more of an outcast. Looking back, I was an ego maniac with a self-esteem problem.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. They provide awareness, support, and education to those affected by mental illness.


Letting Go of Ego

My parents tried to do what they could. They took me to a therapist, but I simply manipulated him to get my way. I told him what he wanted to hear. I portrayed a life that was all put together and that it wasn’t me, but other people who were the problem. I always played the victim because I never wanted to truly confront the real issue – I was the problem, not someone else. The elimination of these behaviors may have been accomplished if I didn’t feel that asking for help was a sign of weakness. I now know that reaching out would have been a sign of strength. Being vulnerable is a way of finding humility; it’s also a way of being accountable to yourself and to someone else. The way I have reacted to, and dealt with, my life experiences are just like practicing a craft.

For almost 37 years, I managed to practice the wrong ways to live my life. Those learned behaviors do not change overnight. Life is best lived when we focus on progress rather than perfection. The belief that I was perfect at any time in my life is absurd. The idea that I had to portray strength and perfection at all times set an unachievable bar to reach. I tried so hard to conceal every unmet expectation from the world because I was terrified of letting others down and being viewed as a failure. Living with this sort of secret, shame only resulted in deep resentment that I carried for many years. My biggest mistake was that I did not admit I needed help.

I had a belief that the ideals I needed to live up to and achieve were: 1. Money, 2. Power, & 3. Prestige. It’s all I saw. This belief system developed from the lifestyle I believed would get me the most respect, and part of that meant I could not show any bit of vulnerability. I have a crazy but true story about a time when I was offered an opportunity to spend the weekend on the private island of world renowned motivational and inspirational speaker, Tony Robbins. The intent of this invitation was to help me better myself. I was in a tough place mentally and emotionally during that time, but because I could not let myself be vulnerable, I was immediately defensive. Aggression was my reflexive reaction, and I think my exact words were, “Fuck Tony Robbins.”

Looking back, I realize what a valuable opportunity that was to understand myself and my feelings, and to learn how I could become a better person. Until you are ready and willing to make the decision to do the self-work, such opportunities are useless.

Step 1 – Ask for Help, Step 2 – Accept It

I would look in the mirror during my darkest days and simply ask for help from someone, anyone. I knew I needed and wanted it, I just did not know how to ask for it because I had never done so before. My help came in the form of the Cascade County’s Sheriff Department. It wasn’t how I wanted it, but it was what I needed. I often wondered what might have been if I had asked for, and received, the support I needed before all the consequences. Focusing on the past for which I cannot change is not helpful though. I have gratitude for the life I lived and the person I am now, but the hope is that someone out there who is in a place of hopelessness and misery, may hear my story and reach out for support before they hit their rock bottom.

I choose to continuously share my journey of recovery so that the listener may use my experiences as inspiration to find the strength that is already inside themselves. It takes courage to ask someone for help, and it takes practice and time to fully understand that the vulnerability you show will be the strongest thing you do in this life. Part of that strength is surrender and acceptance of the help you receive. It may not look like, or come in the form, that you thought. Taking suggestion is an action of asking for the help. You can’t, and don’t, have to do this alone. This is simply about living life, about another human being choosing to live their best life, and you being a part of that solution together.

For treatment resources and directories, visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website. Here you can look up local resources for substance abuse support and treatment near you.