I was born into addiction meaning that I was raised in an environment that harnessed selfish, dishonest and self-centred energies that contributed towards my disease. I remember living in crippling fear and anxiety due to my father’s alcoholism which resulted in me striving to imitate my mother’s portrayal of “feminine perfection”. I never knew balance or felt ‘normal’ growing up. I was highly aware of my senses and feelings and I didn’t like them at all. Amongst my peers both socially and educationally, I had been made to understand that I was too black, too shiny, too skinny and too nappy headed. At home, I wasn’t allowed to act as rough as the boys were because little girls are ‘supposed’ to be gentle.
Society conditioned me to believe that as a little girl it was incorrect behaviour for me to chase other girls even during play time. I couldn’t play kiss chase, jokingly marry them in the playground or even play feel ups with them. As I started to contemplate why I’d been sent to this awful, weird and confining realm, the route of my first addiction and escapism presented itself in ‘fantasy’. The root of my addiction for the most part was fear and shame, something I became very familiar with throughout my life. I’ve read that sanity is living in harmony with reality but I just couldn’t stand my own and the cycle of my active addiction followed the pattern of:
The role that my addiction when it came to my sexuality started when I was young. I experienced ridicule (shame) for doing what felt natural to me which was me being intimate with other girls. Out of (fear), I traded self-acceptance to comply with heteronormative culture (need to be accepted). As an adult, I adopted the ‘learnt behaviour’ of giving affection to abusive, misogynistic cis men and tolerating insufferable situations. Sex was usually conducted whilst under the influence of narcotics or the ludicrous fantasy (escape from reality). The men I would engage in sexual activity with were simply there to fill the void of me not having received the emotional expectations I had of my father. All this happened whilst I engaging in sexual activities with women in secret at the same time desperately trying to avoid any emotional attachments with them (deceit) as I believed myself to be undeserving of the romantic love that I truly desired (lies). I withdrew with no explanation from women who showed genuine interest in me (isolation) and when confronted about my sexuality, I would instantly put my guard up and use the excuse of “me not being interested in any type of relationship with women because they were ‘too emotional’ (dissociation).
I started drinking at the age of 12 moving onto A-class drugs by the age of 26. Although there were one or two stints over the years where I didn’t touch anything at all, the alcohol and drugs progressively became something that I couldn’t do without. No matter how sincere I was about my decision to stop, the reality was that my stop button broken. It was a myth. I felt dependent on having alcohol and drugs in my system to alter my states – mental, emotional and physical. Anything in between was torture and due to the belief that my external appearance didn’t reflect that of a typical street addict, I found it hard to admit that I had no control over myself or my life.
I believed that having more money, more social status, more self-will, a handful of amethyst crystals and some sage would cure me. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I wanted to feel something, anything that I believed at that moment would tie me over so I could continue to get high until I was 30. Being 27 in that moment, I thought I was way too young to give up saucing and enjoying my life. But the real problem was one that I didn’t want to deal with the fear of facing who I really was without the alcohol & drugs. Running away from myself became exhausting. There was no guarantee I was going to make it to 30. My soul was battered and instructed me to lay the destruction and chaos to rest.
Fast forward to the present day where I am finally learning how to live in harmony with my reality, maintaining freedom from my active addiction to the people around me, the places and the things that do not serve purpose to my greater good. It’s a task that involves pushing past my ability to wallow in self pity and procrastination. Sure, we all love a good “but why me?” session and a good distraction however, the main thing for me was staying clean. Daily acknowledgement of the loving forces working for, with and through me (which I refer to as my higher power), put my recovery at the forefront of everything that I do. I dedicate affirmations of gratitude to the ancestors for granting me the opportunity to continue the mission. Once this was done, the theme of my life followed a flow of:
The idea of living without drink or drugs was mundane but I pushed through. Currently 15+ months clean & sober with my 30th birthday around the corner, I am having the time of my life getting in touch with who I truly am. Do I practice all of what’s on the above diagram every single day? No, but it’s a process that takes practice. I am dedicated to getting better. I often ask myself ‘Does freedom from active addiction mean that I no longer repeat old behaviours or don’t have the disease anymore’?. The answer once again is no. My personal understanding of addiction is it being a mental disease that is feeds through active behaviours that give you momentary pleasure. Most people assume that addiction is purely drugs or alcohol and that’s incorrect. Addiction can come in many forms from food to porn to gambling which induces a physical and emotional reaction in the form of an inability to stop at your own will due to the commands of the disease wanting more. Drugs can be removed from an addict but the disease still remains within and has the ability to manifest itself in more ways than one. Obsessive behaviour, eating disorders etc and continue to ruin the manageability of the life of the addict and their loved ones. Rather than feeding my disease with my known old behaviours, I stuck to recovering.
Since starting my recovery, I have continued to receive blessings in so many forms. I took a huge leap with my sexuality and officially came out as lesbian in January 2018. The welcoming embrace that I’ve received from the QTIPoC community has been overwhelming. I’ve been given the honour of being accepted into a forged queer family of outstanding sistxrs for whom I’m dedicating this piece to. Their acts of kindness, ability to care, profound intelligence, perseverance, unapologetic blackness, bravery, vulnerability and honesty for their community moves me. The overall spirit of living their best lives has taught me how to live and love my life authentically. I make it my duty to attend many incredible events, produced and hosted by magical and inspiring QPoC. Duckie Family, Spring Melanin, Our Naked Truths, UK Black Pride and BBZ were events created for people like me, people like us and I personally want to thank every single one of the individuals involved in building these spaces.
It wasn’t until the launch of AZ Hub that (unbeknownst to both me and my partner) would be the first shared space for both of us to connect. My partner, whose love and support I consider to be one of the most precious gifts in my recovery means the world to me. QTIPoC spaces that specifically highlight that they’re not alcohol centred eases the anxiety for those like myself who want to feel involved in social settings without having to answer the awkward question of “why aren’t you drinking?”. There was a feeling that danced through my heart when I looked around the main room at AZ Hub and saw each person paying genuine attention to what was going on. It made me cherish being clean and sober.
Being present in these spaces feels like riding a wave of freedom where I can celebrate being beautifully human again by simply embracing who I am. With the assistance of QTIPoC groups, both in and outside of my recovery, the element of sharing, serving, supporting, laughing, learning, healing and loving supplied me with memories that I can get a high from at any given time of any given day with no detrimental consequence attached. After spending 16 years of my life in a chemical haze, living clean and learning how to deal with life on my terms is a new but very rewarding experience. It’s not easy.
In the spirit of gratitude, I dedicate this piece to you for taking the time out to read it. Thank you. I affirm that the loving forces surrounding you will guide your journey to freedom, healing and restoration infinitely. This is also dedicated to the spirit of recovery, queer love, my sistxr, my family and my wife. Thank you for embracing, accepting and loving all that I am whilst contributing growth and consciousness toward my journey in this lifetime.