Finding, healing, rediscovering, and celebrating
“Hi, my name is Niki. “It’s nice to meet you.”
I remember how awkward it was to introduce myself by a name other than Nichole, but I was determined that my start in recovery was going to leave “addict Nichole’’ behind me.
According to the article, “Top 10 Reasons People Change Their Name” written by Michelle Kaminsky, Esq. found on legalzoome.com, one of the top 10 reasons for changing your name is not liking your current name. I was beyond not liking my name; the name was fi ne, it was me that I didn’t like.
Trauma and active addiction had done a number on who I thought that I was or was supposed to be and over time had turned me into someone that I loathed, detested, and couldn’t even look at in the mirror.
I did things to myself and others that went against every value I thought I had and the vision of myself in the mirror was attached to shame, disgust, remorse, and pain. I came to a place where I had no choice but to use, even just to hide from myself.
I knew immediately when I finally asked for help and got to rehab that I had a choice again. I could recreate myself and I was filled with the excitement that I used to get when moving into a new apartment.
That fresh start that lets you decorate things in a different way. That promise to yourself that you will do better at keeping the place clean and will care for your things better than you have in the past. The home that you create and are proud to show to others.
Recovery was my new home but I could not bring “Nichole” into that place. She was the old ratty furniture that needed to be thrown out.
I continued in my recovery with much enthusiasm and kept filling myself with everything that recovery had to offer, including esteemable acts to build my subpar self-esteem. I took the memories of the awful things I had done; over time, and with opportunity and support, have done my very best to make things right with people that I had harmed.
Taught by people who had experience in recovery, I learned that I was not defined by what I had done and that regret was a feeling that robbed me of the joy that was present before me.
Reviewing my life helped me to take stock of the very reasons that made drinking and drugging seem like a reasonable solution.
When I reached the end of active addiction, all I could see was every bad thing that I had ever done.
Doing the work of recovery also restored memories of the things I had done well and things that I could like about myself.
I realized that part of recreating who I was also included changing my perspective of who I thought I was before. My house didn’t just have ratty furniture, it also contained antiques of great value.
Discovering that I was funny, caring, and kind and just needed some restoration got me curious about myself.
I learned that I was a good teacher and student and that I always had been.
I uncovered a sense of humor and that discernment of when to use it.
I wasn’t just recreating myself, I was I wasn’t just recreating myself, I was rediscovering who I was. There were rediscovering who I was. There were things I didn’t like and I gave myself things I didn’t like and I gave myself permission to let go of what I could and permission to let go of what I could and to love myself when I couldn’t.
Gifted with a different perception of myself and the tools of recovery, I went back in time to 5-year-old Nichole who experienced abuse and hugged her.
I cheered for 5th grade Nichole for being named Student of the Year and told her she deserved it for all of the reasons her teachers listed.
I stopped by and visited boy-crazy and lonely 12-year-old Nichole and gave her the love that no boy ever had.
I peeked in on the ashamed 36-year-old Nichole and gently reminded her that she had done the best she could.
I celebrated the wins Nichole experienced throughout her life and I did my best to unconditionally love her through her trials and gently comforted her through the pain of her decisions.
I am the one who walked 40-year-old Nichole to the door of rehab, with a suitcase and a handful of hope and introduced her to the world as Niki.
Today, I still introduce myself as Niki—not as a fresh start, but as a coming home to Nichole and everything she has been, is and will be. I love each aspect and change in myself today and when I look in the mirror, I am connected to me.
Niki “Nichole” Curtis