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Home is not ‘there,’ it’s ‘here’
Written by Niki Curtis

Lifting the curse of everything will be better if …

Throughout my life I have always felt that when I got “there,” I would finally be okay; life would be what it was meant to be, and I would have finally arrived. Life could then be celebrated!

“There” was a place where I would have the right job, my body would be the perfect shape and size, I would have the ideal love relationship and I would be well known and well loved by everyone. Peace would filter through every area of my life and if I wanted something, it would be easy to get.

The harder I tried to get “there” the farther away I seemed to be. I was never fully happy and even if I did manage to achieve one of these signifying events, I couldn’t take any satisfaction in having achieved what I wanted because underneath it all, I didn’t feel I deserved it.

This cycle of striving, achieving, and never feeling satisfied was a hole in my soul that I had no idea how to fill. The more I failed, the bigger the hole got until all I could see was the utter blackness that surrounded me and I felt like I was in a free fall straight to hell.

What I failed to mention about this journey are the drugs, alcohol, men, food, and negative thoughts about myself that were directly tied to the “there” of yesterday’s shame and regret or the “there” of fears, insecurities and doubts of any of my tomorrows.

The attempt to fill the hole with these things only enlarged the sense of emptiness. How could I possibly be able to exist “here” without them when I was supposed to be somewhere else, anywhere else? Every single struggle was a direct consequence of the fact that I wasn’t in that far-off land of “there,” a never-never land of sorts.

I blamed others, my unworthiness, and all the things that had happened to me for the inability to move toward a place that only ever existed in my mind.

This dream, this promise, this curse of “there” has been lifted from me. I am now HERE, home in the place I always wanted but didn’t understand. It seems that Glinda the Good Witch knew what she was talking about—this hidden place was inside me all along.

I laugh at that now, the kind of laugh that knowing mothers share with each other when talking about the trials of their children.

I laugh at myself with a growing self love that I discovered when I finally stopped hating myself long enough to see myself through the eyes of love.

One of the most crucial pieces to my transition to this place of peace and contentment was the willingness to surrender everything I thought I knew about EVERYTHING!!

Sounds overwhelming?

I thought so, too, until the day that I walked into rehab and for the first time ever, I knew that HERE was the right place for me.

I was so willing to let go of what I thought I knew about addiction, but little did I know that I would have to let go of everything I knew about everything, especially myself.

I had always been driven by a strong desire to know everything that was going to happen, I needed to know all the steps to get to a goal and the idea of not knowing had me living in an anxiety induced trance. That trance got me stuck where I was, over and over and over.

As I sat in rehab, learning to surrender all of my old ways of dealing with life, I found that real hope that comes with an innate knowing that there is a solution, that maybe I had value and wasn’t so far gone that I could recover like others.

I learned that the moment that I was in was the ONLY thing that I had any control over.

I couldn’t change the past and I sure couldn’t orchestrate the future, so putting all of my heart and energy into the HERE and NOW was my primary purpose. It sounds so unbelievably simple in theory. It is, but part of my humanity is that I complicate the simplest matters.

Most of life’s everyday happenings elicited one of two responses: “holding my breath” when waiting for what I wanted to fall in my lap; and projecting to others “don’t hold your breath” when they had normal expectations such as expecting me to pay a bill on time.

For example, asking for a raise wasn’t in my toolbox; I “held my breath” hoping it would just happen. I would hold my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop when I continuously showed up late for work.

In my active addiction, there were many breaths held while telling myself not to hold my breath, “knowing” the truth that the fellow addict I just sent with my money wouldn’t return with what they had promised.

I struggled with every aspect of being a responsible adult and couldn’t understand why I was stuck.

Recovery taught me that the first thing to do in any given moment or situation is to breathe in, and the next right thing is to breathe out.

So many of us forget to breathe out.

We take that big breath in and hold onto it like it is the last gift we will ever receive.

We hold onto that breath while our thoughts are trying to get over THERE.

We feel the tension and anxiety from trying to hold onto that breath.

We have no trust that another breath will come although we have our lives as proof that there is more air for us. In my mind, the idea of enough was what I would have and be when … well, you know, when I was THERE.

I learned that following my breath was a crucial way to stay in this moment. That breathing was something to be celebrated most of all. I was alive, I had hope, I could learn about recovery and I could recover.

By shifting my focus away from having to get “there,” I have had opportunities and internal growth. HERE, right now—*breathe in*, *breathe out*— is perfect and it is where you and I are meant to be.

Niki Curtis

Niki Curtis

Niki Curtis of Portland is a woman in long-term recovery whose passion is to help others and spread positivity. She loves to find creative ways to do that, including writing for Journey.