by Amy Cortney
June 22, 2001
Success is measured in many different ways. A typical image of success for the average person is one that society has depicted for us. Usually one thinks of wealth and material possession, perhaps an education, a job at a good company, or finding the man or woman of your dreams, falling in love and starting a family together. Though, for many of us who have been plagued with the disease of addiction though have been fortunate enough to find Methadone Maintenance Treatment, we tend to view success as something completely different.
Before I can even begin to describe what my idea of success is, I’d like to ask you about yours. Perhaps a better way of putting it would be to ask a very simple, yet loaded, question. What do you expect to gain from Methadone Maintenance Treatment? In the beginning, when one first enters treatment, I think that answer is an easy one. Most people want to stop being sick, plain and simple. For so long we have done nothing but worry about our health, or lack of health. Our goal each day was always the same. We needed to obtain enough money in order to buy enough drugs in order to stay well for enough time until we can once again find enough money and start the pattern all over again. I suppose the layperson may think that at least we know what we have to do each day without any question though that is where the simplicity of it ends. Living that way is a life sentence without the possibility of parole or getting released for good behavior. No matter how successful a junkie you may become, nobody ever gets promoted to a higher position, nobody ever receives any vacation time nor do we ever even get a day off every so often.
So, when we enter treatment, it is enough for us to be able to sleep through the night and not have to awake to our life-sentence and full-time job every day. Once we find that magical number that is to be our optimal dose, we are finally free. As much as the misinformed person thinks that we are prisoners of the Methadone clinic, it is there that we truly find our freedom. Once we are well however, we cannot help but ask ourselves, “Okay, now what?”
Which brings me back to my original point of how one finds and measures success. Once I allowed myself to let go of all my preconceived notions of what my life was supposed to be and what I was supposed to accomplish, I not only found success, I also managed to take care of the whole, “now what?” problem. I tried to think back to when I was a very little girl, before puberty came and my mind was clouded with all those little boys. I thought about what made me happy, what I did for fun and how I found joy in my life. If one really takes the time to consider those things, many questions can be answered. It sounds very simple because it is. See, when we were kids, our lives consisted of what made us happy. We didn’t worry about the mundane things in life because we were free. Now that we have been fortunate enough to find that freedom again through Methadone, capturing that time when we were young and full of imagination and wonderment can lead us not only to happiness, but to success as well.
I have tried to see life through my son’s eyes and it is really a wonderful place. My 21-month-old son doesn’t see drugs, misery, darkness, fear or pain. He sees a world of possibilities where even a day in the backyard can be a whole new amazing experience. Sometimes I just stop and stare at those innocent bright eyes and try to envision what goes on inside. It’s as if I hit rewind on the tape and go back to happier times when my world wasn’t filled with syringes, cookers, bags and veins. Gone are the questions of who has what and where can I find this and where can I find that. I am not concerned with who is walking behind me and I can walk down the street without having to duck behind bushes and cars for no officer is looking for me for I have done nothing wrong. I have managed to discover beauty again. There is nothing more satisfying to me than sitting on the ground with my hands buried deep in the Earth having a part in creating something beautiful. I have created enough ugliness to last a lifetime. I’m not always in a rush anymore. I used to always be going going going because I had to get there as quick as I could and I didn’t even know where I was going. I was always in a race against myself and I never won. Now, I can take one step at a time with my feet firmly planted on the ground. I won’t fall and I can’t lose because I am no longer in the race. I move to the beat of my own drum and some days that beat is a very slow methodical rhythm.
My time is spent doing what I love to do. Sure, there are times when I do what I have to do even though I don’t want to though I have realized that if I really didn’t want to do it, I wouldn’t. I have to ask myself what is more important now, my happiness or some warped perception of what I am supposed to be doing with my life. If I am working at some job that I loathe, am I not just walking some path that I have chosen for myself yet didn’t realize I was choosing? Every so often we have to stop and take a look at what we are doing and ask, “Is this the life I envisioned?” Sleeping through the night, though wonderful, is no longer is enough. At some point, we want more and we deserve more. We realize that we can remain on our medication, no longer question it and begin pursuing the life we want. There comes a time when our medication becomes smaller and smaller in our lives because everything else is so much bigger. The same way that our minds were completely centered on using, then completely centered on our medication, they can now become completely centered on our happiness.
We are in charge of our own destiny and our own success. Maybe our rules and our expectations have to be altered a little. Maybe we have to let go of society’s definition of success. We don’t all have to do what the world tells us we have to do in order to gain success. Perhaps your success is entirely different than mine. While one woman’s success is completing their education, another’s success is completing a painting that has been sitting there unfinished. While one man walks the path of righteousness, another walks his brand new dog. While one imagines a life of peace and contentment, another may imagine a life of excitement and spontaneity. While one person struggles to find a dose that is right for them, another finds that dose and tells the other how they did it. We are all filling our time and we are all achieving success on more levels than I can count. Maybe instead of asking yourself where you want to be and what you are going to do in the meantime, think about what you did today or yesterday and think about how you will do it differently tomorrow. Success for me is getting to the point where I can look at today and yesterday and truly say from the bottom of my heart that I wouldn’t change a thing.