Posted by Steps to Recovery on January 25, 2012

When I was in my addiction, I had so many great ideas. I started so many new things with the best of intentions but I always found myself wondering why things never worked out. Why didn’t things just go my way sometimes? It seemed like no matter what I did, the things I tried to accomplish never came together.

Finally, after so many years of failures and disappointments, I had an epiphany. I was sitting with my dog, holding her as she was dying. It felt like my life was ending as well. I wanted to remember her life, I wanted to daydream about all of the amazing times we had together, she had been through so much with me, she was my best friend. But I couldn’t remember anything, I had been too high, too distracted, too lost in my addiction. At my lowest point I realized what I was doing wrong.

I wasn’t applying myself to my full potential.

It was pretty painful to realize that she had given to me so unconditionally for so many years and I hadn’t given her hardly anything in return. But it wasn’t just about my dog. I realized that life had been doing the same thing. Life had been giving me so much opportunity, so many ideas, so many chances for greatness but I had been too high to be present, to really give life the attention it deserved.

I spent a lot of time thinking about this. How could I focus more on accomplishing my goals? On achieving my dreams, on just being happy and successful? How could I give more as a human being? How could I build relationships with people that were mutually beneficial and nurturing? It was so clear to me, in that moment, what I needed to do. As I held my sick dog, I realized I needed to make a commitment to change my life. I couldn’t ever do the things I wanted to do if I kept getting high.

It hit me that the world doesn’t owe me anything. I could help all the people in the world, make myself available to so many people, help in so many ways, try to start new projects with people who seem like they want to do something great, too..But because I was in my addiction, they weren’t the right people to invest in. The people I was reaching out to were addicts too, with nothing really to give to the world because they were too wrapped up in their addictions. You can’t expect integrity from people who aren’t living in integrity with themselves. You can’t expect integrity from people when you aren’t living in integrity with yourself.

I realized that as long as I was in my addiction, I was only living up to a small percentage of my potential. As saddening as that was to acknowledge, it was also empowering. I realized that it was all up to me and completely within reach to accomplish. I realize that if I were sober, my potential would be endless. So that day I made a commitment to get clean. And it has been a remarkable journey.

I still don’t live up to my full potential. It’s something I work on all the time. But it’s been amazing to see how different the world looks, how much the world has opened up to me, now that I am clean, and the longer I stay clean the better it gets. The more potential arises.

Are you living up to your full potential?