They say that pride comes before the fall. And I had a lot of pride growing up…the falling came later on. I was that obnoxious, arrogant middle-school girl who wholeheartedly felt that she knew everything. In my small, inexperienced mind, I was smarter and better than most people, and yet merciful enough to still associate with them. I distinctly remember that I looked down on people, as if they were all inferior to me and my unrivaled wisdom. At 13-years-old, I hated women who got abortions, laughed at people addicted to drugs, and felt sorry for girls who lacked the wherewithal and sagacity to save their virginity until marriage. Anyone who didn’t think or feel the same way I did was foolish and pointless in their existence. I, like many others my age, was an eighth grader who believed she had all the answers. ..it wasn’t until 12 years later that I realized I didn’t have any of them.
Things changed for me in high school. When I turned 15 I smoked weed for the first time, and loved it. At 16 I lost my virginity. And a couple months before my 17th birthday, I went to the clinic behind the movie theater where I worked as a manager, and I got an abortion. Everything I thought I’d never do, I did. Everything I once looked down on from my high, high horse became an exceptionally significant part of who I am.
My name is Abigail McKinney, I’m a 25-year-old single mother, and I’ve been clean and sober for over 2 years. I’m a drug addict, and I know I always will be. On my journey to recovery I’ve heard a lot of people tell me, “Abbi, your addiction doesn’t define you.” People say this because they don’t want you carrying your past around like a weight that’s dragging you down, holding you back, and keeping you from forgiving yourself. They say this because they want you to recognize that there’s more to you than the drugs you used to take, or the liquor you used to drink.
But I’ve come to realize that this is not exactly true for me. I believe that my addiction does define me, and in a very big way. Because without my addiction, I would not be the person I am today. It’s how it defines me that makes a difference. It can either define me positively, or negatively. It can either make me stronger, or weaker. I can either be a victim to my addiction, or a survivor of it. Whenever I remember to, I thank God for my addiction and everything it’s put me through. Because all of those experiences, as horrible as they were, taught me humility, self-respect, honesty, integrity, and responsibility…things that I had no understanding of before my addiction; things I did not have the honor of being introduced to, until I came face to face with the horrors of my addiction, and my recovery from it.
When I look back on the past few years of my life, I always think first about the months leading up to when I got clean. I was 23-years-old, 4 months pregnant, and doing coke on a regular basis…a whole different kind of abortion. For a long time, I’ve thought of that period as the worst time in my addiction, my own personal rock bottom. But I’ve come to realize something in the past few months, as I watch my 2-year-old son grow and learn and become his own person…when I was getting high while a child grew inside me, I had completely given up on myself. And yes, that was terrible. I was unhappy and unforgiving. I couldn’t see a brighter side; I couldn’t imagine myself getting clean. I couldn’t picture myself owning a car again, having my own place again, having a bank account again…I thought I would die with my face in a pile of blow.
But then I think back further to 4 years before that, when I was 19-years-old…the beginning of my addiction. I remember feeling happy back then. I was carefree and comfortable, but worst of all, I was arrogant. There wasn’t a bone of humility in my whole body. I thought I knew everything, I thought I had everything, and sadly enough, I thought I was happy. There was no room for correction in my mind.
I realize now that that was the most dangerous point of my addiction…in the very beginning…before I even knew what I was getting myself into.
Two years feels like a long time to me some days…every once in a while I allow myself a small bit of satisfaction and pride that I’ve made it this far. I reflect back on the days when I was so lost in chaos, I thought I’d never be free. But mostly I am humble now. I know that I cannot get comfortable in my sobriety, that I must never stop bettering myself, never stop working for a stronger Abbi. And of course, I can’t ever forget what I’ve been through; what I’ve put myself through, what I’ve seen, and what I’ve done. Because the moment I forget, the moment I lose my humility and get comfortable again, that’s the moment that I lose my freedom.
My name is Abigail McKinney. I’m 25-years-old, and I’ve been clean, sober and very uncomfortable for a little over 2 years.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.