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Accepting Help: The Hands That Are Waiting


There’s a strange and crippling mechanism which never ceases to execute flawlessly within my mind, one that predisposes me to addiction and closes the door to self-acceptance, leaving only one solitary escape from an otherwise dead-end. Have you ever experienced the odd phenomena of a compliment? There’s nothing in this world that terrifies me more than when someone offers me one. In these moments my inner system screeches to a stop and sends the person who needs the affection flying out the car windshield.

From a young age, I always irrationally believed there was something defective about me. Compliments should leave you feeling loved, appreciated, competent, and above all…noticed. I should be welcoming these moments with exuberance and pride, shouldn’t I? Starving for the recognition I was paradoxically depriving myself of, my behavior grew problematic and I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder at age 7. As the years raced by, I began to rapidly descend down the slippery slope of substance abuse, never being satisfied with the way I felt towards myself in relation to everyone else. I tried my best to fit into a box I was never designed for in the first place, and when I inevitably failed socially and academically, drugs were there to ease my suffering. Nobody else could do so because of this perfect mechanism.
Somehow, my mind constructed an indestructible barrier between me and every single person who has ever once loved me. But that’s not what keeps me up at night. “Is this barrier to protect me from them or them from me?” I found that benzos and alcohol were an excellent solution to this question, popping them like candy and throwing my roller blades on at two in the morning to give chase to foggy Orange County nights, bombing down Spyglass Hill, and throwing myself into the streets hoping a car would come crashing in to end it all.

I could never once take someone’s hand for help, even though there were so many people in my life trying urgently to lift me out of the deep hole I had dug myself into. The truth is that in some ways I felt safer in my mental isolation. I set out to climb out of addiction on my own. Needless to say, without a grip on solid ground I quickly sunk deeper, trying harder drugs to alleviate myself.

My parents, desperate for a way to help, sent me to a sober living in Santa Monica, where now dozens of hands outstretched to me waiting for me to finally reach past the barrier and overcome the mechanism. My previous isolation is still so second nature to me and it’s with great difficulty that I’m starting to learn how to accept genuine kind words. You can’t starve forever; eventually you’ll perish from malnourishment. Next time someone gives you a compliment, breathe in the sweet scent, and cherish the flavor, not for your enjoyment, but for your survival.


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Filed under: Addiction, Alcohol and Drugs, Treatment · Tags: Addiction, ADHD, attention deficit-hyperactive disorder, isolation, rehab, self-acceptance, substance abuse, Treatment

  • Chanel Garcia

    Compliments have also always left me feeling weird, like something inside of me kept telling me that I didn’t deserve those pretty words.
    Protecting yourself always feels easier because you wouldn’t have to take care of anyone else but yourself.
    But that was always a difficult situation because I never wanted to.
    It’s amazing how people think that they’re so different, and yet here I am feeling the same feelings that you once did.
    I admire that you let the world know just a little bit more about you that is beyond the mind barrier.
    Thank you.

  • Debra

    I love this poignant, articulate and insightful message. You have clearly begun to realize that you deserve and need to be able to accept praise and appreciation. Thank you for communicating your advise on self-acceptance and being will the share your pain for the benefit of others.

  • Brandt

    I too always felt that closing myself off from everyone was the best way of action. However, I slowly started to realize that it was incredibly maladaptive, which only lead me to a deeper hole and a stronger “barrier” as you put it. I’m happy to say though that I am slowly starting to dig out of it and accepting the love, that I didn’t think I deserved, from more and more people in my life. Your words inspire me to stay strong and keep at it! Thank you for your insightful message.

  • Toby

    Learning to accept support from others during struggles can be difficult, but will be very beneficial on the road to recovery. Nobody doesn’t deserve kind words.

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