Why Being Judged For Your Past Is The Hardest Part About Getting Clean

by Ezekiel Wariboko
Paramount Pictures

I have hurt, lied, manipulated, stole and used people just to get my high. I lie awake at night with my pillow over my head, trying to drown out the voices that are yelling at me. My head feels like it will explode.

I grind my teeth back and forth like a freight train trying to stop its tracks. Cravings, wants and the memories of a time when the comfortably numb feelings were all I knew flood back into my head. They make it seem as if this is my only destiny: to shoot up, to snort and to get loaded every day of my life.

Maybe if I am lucky, I can join the "27 club" with some of the greats, such as Kurt Cobain and Jimi Hendrix. It all seems so tough. The life of a recovering addict isn't easy, and it almost seems easier to off myself than to continue on the path toward getting clean.

For a recovering addict, the only thing harder than staying clean is the judgment and constant condescending stares from those who do not understand the struggle. Three years have gone by, and I have not used heroin. Three years have gone by since it has reached my bloodstream and given me the feeling of warmth.

No matter how many strides I make or how many years go by, to them (the narrow-minded, "perfect" people), I will always be an addict. I find it funny that it's usually the weakest people who pass the strongest judgment. If any of those who judge continuously knew the path I took to get to where I am now, they would see things differently.

I often wonder why people cannot let go of the past. I also wonder why when they do see progress, it is drowned out by the past mistakes. They only focus on the time when it seemed like my only option to get through the days riddled with darkness was to use.

I often wonder why, instead of being encouraging, they always have a "don't hold your breath for too long" type of mentality. This always comes from those who will never know the horrors and struggles of seeing life from the other side.

After three years, I have come to one conclusion about those who still judge: They don't get it. They will never get it, and they are made to be average.

I believe second chances are needed in all aspects of life, especially in my case as a recovering addict. Judgment will happen, and it happens daily. This is also a realization I have come to deal with. No matter what, I will always be judged by my past, and actually, I am thankful for that.

It is through this judgment I have grown to believe in myself and my abilities. Through this judgment, I have learned you cannot care about what everyone thinks about you. Through this judgment, I have learned that it is literally me against the world.

You don't always need to have people by you. All you need is to believe in yourself and have a vision and a plan to achieve it.

I was put into a deep depression by the constant judgment from people. My former friends would blow me off and act like I didn't exist. Mistakes are a part of being human, and mistakes and relapses are going to happen, especially with a recovering addict.

Judgment from those who have no right to judge are always going to be a part of this life. It is up to you whether you let those words and thoughts control you, or you let them go and do what you need to do. To those who judge me and other recovering addicts, know this: It hurts and it sucks, but we are stronger than you will ever be. Eventually, this pain we feel will turn into fuel.