woman-addictionKENTUCKY (4/17/15) — The purpose of the following open letter written by Olivia Kirks, is to provide insight about the disease of addiction.

In it, she shares her own experience with opiate addiction. Having battled drug abuse since 2006, Olivia proudly attests to being clean and sober since July 17, 2014.

To those who suffer with us and because of us:

First of all, you need to know that my addiction is not your fault. It’s nothing you did or did not do. Mom, it’s not because you worked so much or didn’t have dinner with me every night. Dad, it’s not because you drank too much or remarried too soon. Brother or sister, it’s not because you took away my spotlight. Husband, wife, partner, lover… it’s not because you told me I was fat or not smart enough or not good enough or chose her over me. No, it’s none of these reasons. You need to understand that my addiction is not your fault. Repeat that. Roll it over and over in your mind. My addiction is not your fault. In fact, it’s not yours at all. It is mine.

Secondly, please stop asking me why I am doing this to you. Addiction is not a weapon… it isn’t something we choose to wield against those we love, it isn’t suppressed anger or aggression in the form of a pill or a needle or a pipe. You have to understand… I don’t know why I am doing this to myself, much less to you. Even more… I don’t care what I’m doing to you. I care about the pill.. or the needle.. or the pipe. And that is all. My life is my drug of choice. It controls me, consumes me, dictates all of my thoughts and actions with absolutely no regard to consequence or outcome. And this includes hurting you.

I don’t understand what hurting someone means anymore… I am blind to your feelings, deaf to your pleas, numb to any emotion you may be feeling. I do not feel anything. I feel sick when I am not high and I feel a distorted sense of normal when I am. But you see… I cannot be high and have the human experience of emotion at the same time. I am a shell. I have no capacity to love or hate or cry or feel anything at all. I am a shell, fueled by pills to only find and use more pills. Your concerns are none of my concern.

I will lie to you and steal from you and deny, deny, deny. And somewhere, deep down inside, I know I am hurting you, killing you even… and this little part of me hates the rest of me for all that I am doing, but the drugs are so loud, deafening sounds in my mind, and they always win. I will leave you lying, battered and beaten and begging me to stop, on my well-worn path of self-destruction and never look back, as long as the outcome is drugs coursing through my veins.

This is not your fault. And I don’t destroy you because I don’t love you. I destroy you because the drugs are destroying me and I can’t stop, won’t stop, don’t know how to stop. I lie in bed at night and pray to a god that I don’t think exists that I will not repeat this cycle tomorrow… but God doesn’t answer. The drugs answer, and they tell me the only escape is more, more, more, always more. And I believe them.

My addiction is not yours. It is mine. It is my prison, it is my god, it is my heaven and my hell, my lover, my enemy, my only loyal companion. I do not want it but cannot rid myself of it. You cannot help me. You cannot love me out of it, hate me out of it, buy me or bribe me out of it. I am the only one holding the keys to my own dungeon, yet I cannot find the locked door for the darkness.

Not until I have had enough pain, enough loss, enough misery, enough hell, will I try to change. But when I do, If I do, my climb out of my grave will be my own. It has to be my own, because only then will I value that climb, that pain, that change. Please be patient with me. This change is not an easy one, or a fast one, or even a guaranteed one. The wreckage that I have left will not disappear overnight. Please do not push me to fix it all right now. It took me years to destroy my life, and while I’m trying my best, I will not repair it all before tomorrow’s dawn.

My addiction is not yours. No matter how well you know me, how much you love me… you do not know the addict that rages inside of me. It looks nothing like the daughter or son or brother or sister or husband or wife or lover you know. No, you do not know the voice in my head that convinces me to disregard you and your love. That tells me to find it, find that pill, then find that needle and put it in my arm and forget about you and the pain in your eyes. I fight daily to speak louder, think smarter, be braver than this voice.

This battle is my own, you cannot help me fight.

My addiction is not yours. It is mine.

And today, I have silenced it. Today, I feel love for you. Today, I am grateful for you. Today, I choose to be the person you know and love and understand.

My addiction is my own. And today, just for today, I have won.

Olivia Kirks
Madisonville, Ky.

About the author: Kirks is an adjunct professor at Murray State University and a proud team member at Big City Market. She holds a master's degree in European history from Murray State University. Originally from Madisonville, Kirks has spent the last 10 years in Murray, Denver, Colo. and Nashville, Tenn., and found that her addiction followed her wherever she went. She moved back home in the fall of 2014.

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Posted on 2/2/14
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