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My name is Samantha and I’m here today to talk about overcoming addiction.
Before I experienced addiction, I was, I guess, looking back on it, what you would call, child of abuse, and there was all forms of abuse. And I now come to understand that that was what allowed me to fall so deeply into addiction. I was addicted to alcohol, pot, out of all things, and, on some level, ice. And this was all when I was a teenager.
And as a result of the childhood abuse, I lived on the street, as it felt like a safer place than what home did, and in order to belong, because all children want to belong, the crowd that I would meet on the street were all into drugs, it became not only my way of belonging, but my way of escaping.
In the mists of my addiction, I felt… it was a long process, depending on what I was addicted to and what substance. In the beginning, it felt normal, it felt very accepted, it felt like that’s what everyone was doing. That’s how you grow, how you evolve and live your life as a child and as a teenager, you just take substance, it felt like how you drink, you drink "two blackout", because… ten or eleven, you know, and that was my go-to, and towards the end of the addiction, in my 20s, it was… it was so crushing because I knew I had more potential.
And I couldn’t shake it, I really didn’t know how to shake it, I spent years trying to "control" my drinking, and I got rid of drugs a lot earlier, and I stopped many many substances but there was one that was so readily available and so socially encouraged. It’s in movies, it’s in media, it’s painted as this glamorous addition to your live when it’s just a toxic poison, and it’s a substance which, you know, as now a human that is spending her life trying to become more conscious, it was just something that kept me, and what I believe many people, as unconscious.
And so, my addiction went from me feeling like "it was normal" to "it was the most debilitating thing" and I couldn’t explain it to people, and I couldn’t really get help from others because it’s this internal… relationship that you have with that substance, and I think until you deal with what causes you to be so dependent on that external substance, people can tell you to stop, people can cut off friendships, people can tell you how poor your behaviour was, but that doesn’t do anything, because that doesn’t address that core wounding.
There was also people that said I was fine, that wasn’t a problem, that I’m overthinking it, or that I’m fun. And, what I will say about addiction, it’s how you feel, you know, I think a lot of people compared my addiction to something much more extreme, or what I was like 10 years before, but no one can never truly understand that shame and the guilt, and when people would go out socially, planning to get drunk, I would go out and come "I hope I don’t, I hope I don’t." It became very obvious to me that the only way to guarantee that I wouldn’t go and behave destructively in a way that I couldn’t control—I didn’t know what Samantha was gonna come out—was to stop altogether.
I think one of, looking back, the trickiest things with that addiction is that I didn’t have family, so I left home at 12 and I never went back. And I still, to this day, think it was the smartest choice, it was a hard choice, but I’m proud of that 12-year-old Sammy, because it was strong and wise.
As a result, when facing the addiction, which partly or probably largely was stemmed from that. I didn’t have that parental support, I didn’t have that unwavering love or connection, and I believe that one of, if not, the only or certainly, the strongest cure for addiction, is connection.
And we live in a world where we chastise those who need help on that level, and that only exacerbates the problem, so I think not having that support network, from I guess, if we were in tribes, we’d call elders, just… I’ll be curious what impact it would have had if I did have a supporting family to help me through that, and I believe if we truly have enough love in our hearts, in our bodies, in our experience of life, then we wouldn’t rely on addiction.
And my particular issue was, and is, alcohol and drugs, and things that can allow me of quite substantial to escape. But we’re all addicted to our phones, any escape from the moment. Mine was just maybe stronger than most because the need to escape was more powerful.
My first instinct of knowing that I needed to change something, I think, was about when I was 17 and in a period of a couple of weeks, I had my boyfriend at the time mentioned that I wasn’t healthy, that every weekend, I was saying "I don’t remember what I did." So that was, I think 17 or 19… 19. So from 10 to 19, that was 9 years of extreme alcohol abuse, and drug abuse, before I even realize it was a problem.
And then, in that similar period, there was a girlfriend of mine that told me about my behaviour and whilst I thought it was funny, she was appalled, and it kinda took the friendship a tad, a little bit. And that was the first time I had this pang of guilt and shame.
Actually, every time I drank since that moment, I had that guilt afterwards.
And it was that day or that week, that I wanted to start getting in control of my alcohol.
And it was two years after that, perhaps even a bit more, that I came up with the idea to completely stop. And even that was hard.
I did, and then didn’t, and then did, and then didn’t. I really do believe that until you look at the real cause of addiction, it will come back, and it’s something I still look at, to this day, you know, it’s still… it’s with me.
My life now is without substance, and I’m happy, and I’m joyous and I create. And I just.. I love the moment, and I love myself, and I love life, and there is always this deep fear of "what if?."
You know, there were times of recent years that I have had one drink, and it’s turned into 20, if not that week, the week after, because I’ve convinced myself that I’ve grown, I’m happier, I’m evolved, I’m not what I was, I’m in a different situation, and that substance is just the reminder of everything that was painful in my past. I’ve associated its anchor together, and I know I’m not in a great place if I desire a drink, and it doesn’t mean I have to action on it, it just means I need to look at what’s driving me to want to escape.
Because I can’t speak for others, but, for me, alcohol is just a procrastination from life, puts it on hold at the best, and at worst, is an escape from things in yourself, and in your experience of the world that you don’t want to, or can’t, or don’t feel like you can soak in, in that moment.
When I first wanted to stop alcohol, I actually called up a therapist who I still see today, and I’m in a completely different side of the World now but I Skype her. She’s been with me for 10 years, which is incredible. And I remember going in, and I said to her, it was like the free 15 minutes consultation, and I said to her "how long will it take me to stop drinking? 1 or 2 sessions? I just want to understand it", and I went in and she started to ask me about my childhood. And I remember I was so naive, I thought I was so strong. I remember thinking and saying "I don’t want to talk about my childhood, I don’t understand how it’s relevant", and I think... and I felt at the time that if anyone looks at that childhood, and dissected it and complained about it, that they were weak, that they were playing victim.
Whereas, you know, fast forward 10 years, there was certainly a period of that discovery that I have and probably will continue, and played victim, but I’m so far out of that, because I can look at it clearly. I was so thwarted by the desire to be positive, the desire to be a good hearted open person, that I never acknowledged abuse, everything that happened to me, I flipped it.
And there was a time, probably two years into therapy, I just got flooded with memories of the truth of my childhood. And it was shocking! More memories kept coming back, more memories kept coming back. But that was my first experience of getting help, and then, I stopped, kinda cold turkey, and I was in a relationship… I started a relationship with someone who didn’t drink, which is wonderful, and then when that ended… That was my first ever experience of love, I wasn’t loved by my family, and then I lived on the street, and there was obviously people quite toxic, they had their own stuff to deal with. And when that relationship broke down, everything in me shattered, it took me 4 years if not longer, because at 21 I met him, and he was 31, that was my first experience of love, and I started to believe in the World.
I started to accept and express my emotions for the first time in my life. I started to see vulnerability as a strength. I started to see femininity as not just a weakness, but perhaps one day maybe a strength as well. And when that went, when he went, all my abandonment issues came up and I started drinking again, and then stopped, and then started, and then stopped, and then started…
And I ended up going to AA rooms, which I still don’t know how I feel about them, I guess there are some places in the World, I traveled a lot, there are beautiful connections, and there is inspirational people, and a part of me felt too good for them, or too different, or too special, and then you relapse, and then…
I’ve moved to a place in the World now where I don’t particularly love the energy in those rooms, it tends to zap me, so I’m back to being on my own with it.
And the way I look at it now is, I just gotta love myself so much that the desire to punish myself or escape from my life is just such so far removed and so low in vibration from where I’m operating that it just hasn’t end to my mind, and there’s been moments of escapism. I was injured and I dabbled, and I’m very grateful that the moment I felt like it was going to lose control, I cut and completely stopped.
And I don’t know what will happen in the future, but what I feel like is, I kinda have this pattern that could go a few years, and I think of overcome it, and then I’ll try it once, and three months later, I’m getting drunk and wasted and can’t control it. And so it seems to be this pattern with me of two years on or off, and then three months trying it, and then it just doesn’t feel good, I mean hopefully over time, I just lose the desire completely to ever go back on it, because I can never guarantee that I can drink responsibly.
And, you know, it’s scary because it’s like what if it wasn’t that substance, you know, it could have been anything. And I’m just so grateful that I did stop all the other stuff sooner, and I look at my relationship to alcohol as a reminder that I need to heal a bit more and a reminder, a reflection almost, as how much do I love myself, and how much am I allowing myself to experience and feel joy in my life, regardless of what I WANT to be, regardless of what I want TO be, regardless of what I want different, it’s always gonna come back… Unless I can accept… life force and love that run through me, and whilst it may seen hippie to many people, it’s served me in ways that, you know, you look back to my childhood when I was living on the street, and shooting up ice, and you know, living a life that most people wouldn’t even believe in movies. And I look at where I am now, and I put a huge amount of… responsibility… I put a lot of it to my connection to the Universe, and my desire to keep an open-heart, and my desire to see the World as good regardless of what’s going on in the material plane, and I feel so connected to something so beautiful, and when I drink, I don’t.
And flip, when I don’t feel connected to that, I drink. So, I just gotta make sure I stay connected to all the things that feel good, and to me that’s meditation, connection, nature, laughter, you know, the simple things, the things that we don’t think are important but we’ll probably look back when we are 80 or 90 and realize that it was what we’re here on this Earth to do and to experience.
If I could give anyone who has gone through addiction or knows people in addiction advice, I mean it’s a tricky one because I could talk about this for hours, you know, there are so many things to say on it.
If you’re in addiction, I would try and be as compassionate towards yourself as what you can be because exacerbating that shame, or that guilt, or that negative feeling towards yourself will exacerbate the desire to consume and to escape that, and so, as hard, and almost as impossible as it may feel, bringing love back to yourself.
And I think being open about it, I think the more you name it, a lot of people seem to be in denial… to others, that they think if they say it, it makes them weak, you know. I like to think I’m a pretty strong person, I’m here, speaking about it on camera, and I can imagine anyone looks at me as weak for saying it, and I imagine the same about you, you know, if you talk about it openly, there’s such a beautiful strength, and you’re open to be supported, and same with people who know their family, their friend in addiction, it’s not your place to judge them, it’s not your place to tell them what they need or when they’re ready to heal. It’s your place to send them as much connection and love as you can, and it doesn’t mean you can’t put boundaries, it doesn’t mean you can’t say "that was actually unacceptable, I need to detach a little bit", but you do in a place of love, and you let them know that they’re not a bad person, you’re just protecting yourself.
And I think the people who are the most compassionate in the World are those who have strong boundaries, so it’s really important that people don’t become enablers, but they also don’t cut off the people, because, you know, there’s so many studies on it at the moment, and I won’t go into details but you can see it on TED talks and books, that connection is what appeases the desire to escape, and you know, attach to something outside of them, because when you feel connection inside of you, then the World seems a little bit better, and I guess what’s tricky is that could be so much connection around you, but you can still feel disconnected and that is something which I don’t think any words can move someone through that, I think it’s something that needs to be done on your own, it’s something you need to… if you feel so crazy wow that you must go and consume, even waiting the first 30 seconds before you do it, is the first step.
You know, this all-or-nothing mentality is hard, you know, they say in the programs and the rooms in AA, "one day at a time", and that’s really all it is, because once the brain gets involved, and it’s… we can’t do this ever again, that’s a big fear, it’s like climbing Mount Everest when you’ve never walked up a hill. It’s too much to even contemplate.
I would say find support, and for many many people, the rooms have worked, for me, they’ve worked, I’m just at a place today where I’m in a place where it doesn’t serve me geographically, and work-wise, and I’m sure that will change, I’m sure there will be time where I need to recruit more support from strangers, I’m sure there will be time where I need to recruit more support from friends.
The advice that I will say also is: myself included in the beginning, so many people think and really feel me hold on to the idea that if they stop drinking, consuming, or doing X, Y, Z, that they’re addicted to… that their life will be dull, and it will no longer be fun. It’s so wrong!
You know, I stopped drinking, and competed on Ninja Warrior and started a business where I got paid to travel around the World, and that was just within two years of doing it, and I never would have gotten up in the mornings, hungover to go and train, I never would have trusted myself, for me, when… you know, you drink and you do something stupid, you don’t just not trust yourself when you’re drunk, you don’t trust yourself for the rest of the week, because you’re constantly reminding yourself that you don’t trust who you are.
To do that every week… I mean, that’s not fun, you can’t call that fun.
And I think, to give yourself permission to explore what life would be like if you don’t escape it.
I’ve never come across anyone that chosen sobriety whilst also really consciously choosing to work on themselves, that isn’t more grateful, more aware, more excited, more connected, more vibrant than someone who has chosen to drink. And someone who has chosen not to drink but also not done the work, you know, I think that’s really important thing like this spiritual or human path, whatever you want to call it, can be hard work. But it’s worth it, stay present, and you’re not present when you drink and so you’re missing the life that you think you’re enjoying.
Having her thumb firmly placed in many pies in the fitness and entertainment industries, she is widely known for being “the world’s biggest slashie”
Samantha’s mission is to remind people how essential it is to fall in-love with their life and the world they inhabit, to encourage everyone to practise the art of compassion, and value their inner truth, and of-course to fill each day with as many belly laughs as possible.
Her life is a testament to this mission.
You can connect with Samantha through her website (samanthashakiraclarke.com), her company’s website (sliceofthepie.co) and Instagram page (@samanthashakiraclarke).
About Spoken Out Stories
Spoken Out Stories is a video series about helping people who went and/or are going through what a lot of people consider as a hard experience, and don’t see a way out to move on with their life. It is about sharing inspiring and moving stories of different people who come from different parts of the World, and tell us how they move forward with determination and optimism despite what they went through. It is about giving another perspective, another point of view on issues that can't be solvable with a bandage. It is telling people through these inspiring stories that you are enough, that you are worthy, that you are NOT alone and that it is okay to feel the way you feel. It is about putting a spotlight on people who speak out about their vulnerabilities in order to empower and support others in their pain.
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