You could hear the desperation in her voice; she was hurt, scared, and beyond broken. This isn’t the first time she has called you in this state. She tells you this will be the last time, but you know better. This isn’t the first time she has said that. As much as you want to hang up and turn away; you can’t. You love her too much, and you know that you’re helping her kill herself. She has always been a good manipulator, a good talker even before the drugs. You know she will say and do anything she can to get her fix; she will bend and break you time and time again. You try to lie and tell her you can’t help her this time; this time you honestly don’t have the money. Even if that was true you know you will find a way. You simply cannot understand why she does this to you, why she makes you feel like a failure, why she turns everything upside down, why and how she ended up this way. You convince yourself that it’s your fault. You don’t know how to help her, so you give in to her and tell her ‘this is the last time’. You think back to when she was a child and you never thought thing’s would turn out the way they did, you reflect and try to figure out where thing’s went wrong but to no avail.
She tried everything before calling you again, not because she didn’t want to bother you but because she didn’t want to deal with the “nagging”. She knows you better than you know yourself. In this moment of desperation there is no emotion all she can think about is her next fix because she is dope sick. She knows you are in a fragile state thanks to her but the drugs are more important. After she gets the money off of you and gets high she is okay, she is able to function and hold a conversation. There is a moment of comfort between the two of you. She thinks about how much she has fucked up and she doesn’t know how to pick up the pieces. You both are on separate sides of the fence, you can’t understand each other and she is sick of trying to explain it to you. She tells you it is impossible for you to understand what she is going through. You ask her why can’t she just stop. She tells you if she could just stop, she wouldn’t have an addiction.
You go both go to your own corners and shut the door for the night. You worry about her constantly as she just tries to get through the night. She knows she has lost control and doesn’t know how to stop, she knows she needs help before it’s too late. The next morning she asks you to help her, she is shaking with nervousness, and crying with shame, you can see the fear in her eyes and feel the terror in her voice so you take her hand and you say to her ‘we will get through this’.
“Ok. So what was it? Why did you hate being sober? Your childhood was good; you were never abused…maybe emotionally and mentally, but only a little. You had everything you wanted; you never went without. So please tell me, tell me what went wrong?”
I was looking for reasons, or excuses as to why I was the way I was. I wanted to believe there was a significant reason I fell off course. I wanted to blame something or someone for my actions. Even now that I am sober, I still look back trying to find something to hold on to, something that pushed me over the edge. But I was just a child when I started using; it is hard to trace those steps. The more I think about it, the more I try to make sense of the past, the more I realize that it’s me; it has always been me. I am the reason. I hated who I was, and I hated how I felt. Even if my parents said I love you or hugged me more, it wouldn’t have changed how I felt inside, even if there was no emotional abuse. It wouldn’t have taken away the anxiety, the depression, the depersonalization and derealization. It would not have mattered. I didn’t know how to control those feelings and emotions; I didn’t know how to make it stop. When I figured out drugs took all of it away, I felt comforted. I found a way to turn off my mind; I found a way not to care. There is generation after generation of addiction and mental health issues within my family. Whether or not that has impacted me; who knows? The point is I am the only one to blame. I have stopped trying to unlock memories, I have stopped trying to make sense of the past because I don’t think I will ever understand why things were the way they were. I am lucky to still have both of my parents in my life, I am lucky to have a great relationship with them. We are putting the puzzle back together a day at a time. It isn’t always easy, but we have been through hell and back and we’re still together. That has to count for something.
They started out as babysitters, and we built an amazing friendship. They eventually became my godparents. For a long time we didn’t understand why my godmother was so paranoid, she would tell me to watch out, not to answer the phone, to hide knives all over the house, and not to listen to my parents. She told me my parents didn’t care about me and they were planning on giving me away. Being a child; perception was reality. My father struggled with alcoholism and would have violent outbursts, I would react and start to cry, terrified that it was my fault and they were finally going to get rid of me. My dad used it against me when I would misbehave, he would threaten to put me up for adoption.
I caught my godmother yelling at thin air, screaming and crying to leave her alone. I was terrified. I told my godfather and he sat me down to tell me she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. As a child I had no idea what that meant.
It was like good cops, bad cops. My parents couldn’t afford to get me anything and everything I wanted and I didn’t understand why. But my godparents could. They took me on vacations and they did things for me my parents couldn’t. From my perspective as a child I just thought it was because my parents didn’t care about me. I know it was never my godparent’s intention to confuse me. They loved me the only way they knew how.
I knew I had to see them as soon as possible because my time was running out; I needed drugs, and I needed them now. They didn’t see through my bullshit, they thought I was the angel they knew as a child, the girl who played sports on the weekends and liked to draw at night. They never doubted my lies, they trusted me and they only wanted what was best for me. I called them that day like I promised. I know they counted on me to brighten their day; they were never able to have kids of their own so I was all they had. I loved them, I still love them, and they are a part of me. They watched over me from the time I was 6 months. They were always there for me, especially when my parents were not. They needed me more than I needed them and I knew it. The addict in me used that to my advantage. After I left their place I went straight to my dealer to pick up, and I drove home and went to bed.
That was the last time I saw them, it has been 3 years and I don’t know where they are. I selfishly cut them out of my life. I tell myself it was for them; to protect them. But I am lying. I did it for me, like everything else. I did it so I wouldn’t have to deal with the guilt and shame; I did it so I could pretend I wasn’t that person. I think about them every single day. I miss them so much and I want to apologize. Their number is no longer in service, I have tried emailing them and I haven’t heard back yet. If I ever get the opportunity to have them in my life again, I will do my best to make them know how important they are.
In that moment I was never sorry. I didn’t give a fuck about you. My priorities; what I wanted, was so much more than you. It was never about you. Don’t you see? You could have given me the world, you could have given me your blood, and it wouldn’t have mattered. There was a force within me that you couldn’t bend, break, or steal. Not even I had control over it. Powerless is what we were, that was the one and only thing we had in common; feeling powerless, feeling defeated, feeling as if the world owed us something. We resented each other for the same reasons in different situations; we lived in different worlds with the same worries and fears. Imagine that; a sense of common ground in unfamiliar territory. I couldn’t begin to understand you and what you were going through, and you couldn’t begin to understand me and what I was going through. We were too consumed within our minds to realize the depth of our similarities; emotionally blind to say the least; fragile. Trying to explain, trying to understand was delusional at the time. It was beyond us. Compromising was a word that offered us no explanation. You kept asking who I was and what was I thinking. I kept thinking how could you do this to me and since when did you even care. Sometimes emotions don’t have filters. We wanted the same things all along but we didn’t even know it.
Things are better now but I am not 13 years old anymore. It has been 10 years and it is not easy to make up for lost time but we are trying. We are making an effort everyday and that has to count for something. We are learning about each other, forgiving each other, and making amends. At the end of the day, we want what is best; not only for ourselves but for each other.
My dealer, my ‘friend’, my friend with benefits, the guy who I used, the guy who used me; he got arrested. I wasn’t in any immediate panic as I had just bought a bottle of fifty 80mg Oxys. I knew I had time. But nothing lasts forever. It was December 29th 2010 and I was running low, it had been about a month since the arrest. I figured this was my time to quit, I could get clean. I started researching methadone clinics close by. I found a government methadone clinic that wasn’t too far and I decided to take a drive and get it sorted out. When I arrived I felt like all eyes were on me, everyone in that plaza, in that parking lot knew who I was and what I was doing. They looked down at me, like I was an animal. I didn’t deserve respect because I was a low life. As I entered the glass door I noticed the place was empty for the exception of a few nurses and receptionists. Immediately I wanted to run but before I could I was approached by a kind nurse asking if I needed help. Of course I needed help! The withdrawals were coming with a vengeance and they could see it. I filled out a stack of paperwork and had to have a medical evaluation. I thought great! I will walk out of here with a prescription that could potentially save my life, I thought I would have a good new year, and I would be fine to go out for my brother’s birthday. Everything was falling into place and I had a sense of relief. After a 45 minute medical evaluation I was told to go have a seat in the waiting room. Eventually I was called up to the reception desk which was behind a glass window; like a prison. I was told they would put me on a waiting list and I would be called when they had the space for me. I turned white, I started to cry, I was embarrassed, and I was scared. A waiting list, I asked how long? They told me that they didn’t know, it could be a month, a year.
I walked out of that office shaking, crying, cold, hot, and empty. I felt defeated. If they couldn’t help me, who could? I could barely help myself. My options were slim, I desperately called every dealer I knew, I asked anyone and everyone; frantically. I didn’t want my parents to find out that I was using again. I knew the withdrawals were going to be bad. I had used every single day all day for almost 9 months; I hadn’t gone an hour without. Now I had nothing.
I was sitting at the dinner table on January 2nd 2011; it was my brother’s birthday. My parents asked me if I was feeling okay. I said I thought I was getting the flu. Within an hour my face was turning grey, my arm was turning blue and I couldn’t breathe properly. It was time, I had to tell them. We left for the hospital; my heart had stopped pumping blood to the rest of my body. I felt nothing but guilt and shame, it was my brother’s birthday and I had managed to ruin it. I took everything from him, everything was always about me, and my parents were always focused on me. He already resented me enough, and I couldn’t apologize. I had managed to ruin everything, again and it wouldn’t be the last time.
A vicious cycle; I couldn’t get methadone, I was on a waiting list. So what was I supposed to do? I had to get drugs. Luckily after a while I found a private clinic which happens to be my family doctor who runs an addiction clinic. I was lucky, others aren’t.
The day was over but the night had just begun. The stars were breathless, vivid, captivating. I could get lost in the silence that consumed my mind. I felt invincible. Nothing could take away from the world I had just discovered. I was young, I was free. I was letting go of all the hurt I kept hidden; a magic pill that could make feelings and secrets disappear. I was living fast, playing hard with not a care in the world. I suddenly didn’t need the attention I so desperately craved. I didn’t need anything or anyone. It was like being an actress in a movie. I could be whoever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
I loved and lost all at once; in a single moment. I held on tight not wanting to lose what I had found. I dove into a bottomless pit; or so I thought.
Eventually I hit the bottom, and oh did it hurt, it hurt bad. I was a child in an adult world. I wanted to keep living in the magical world I discovered but it no longer existed. Believe me I kept searching; day after day, night after night. It was no where to be found.
“Well for the most part if she does try to give it up, she is going to feel awful, dreadful, and fearful to say the least. I mean really, really awful. She will think she is going to die, she will think she is losing her mind. She will be depressed, anxious, irritable, sleepless, and sick. She will hurt everywhere; mentally and physically. She will scream and shout at you. She will hate you. She will lie to you and manipulate you. She will probably get very aggressive with you.”
“Do you think you can handle that?”
– “I don’t know.”
“Don’t forget, this is important. Whatever feelings she has for you, they won’t be as strong as the feelings she has for the needle and the spoon. If you want to help her, you might have to lose her.”
It’s hard to lead and live a fulfilling life when you’re constantly worrying. Worrying, anxiety, panic, fear; they are more than capable of consuming your life, making you feel weak and insecure. There is something that is paralyzing when you are invaded with worry; stuck in a battle within your mind, trying to find reason and understanding.
I never had to worry, I didn’t even have to think let alone fear. It was all manageable with drugs; it was easy to put thoughts away never to be heard again. The longer I am sober the worse my anxiety gets, it is a constant intrusion with no end in sight. It’s difficult to pinpoint the root of my anxiety and where it begins, or how it begins, why it begins. This is all new to me. Worrying is natural, we do it everyday. I have suffered from anxiety since I was a child, with drugs I was able to have it diminished.
I have been trying to figure out strategies to ease my fear and anxiety, it’s hard when I can’t identify my feelings and emotions well. I have been trying to pay more attention to myself mentally and emotionally. I realized I have comfort zones; places where I feel safe, people I feel safe with. Outside of this I seem to be in constant fear; of what? The only thing I am afraid of is myself.
I don’t want fear and anxiety to limit me from my recovery. It might sound weird but I feel as if I am mentally trying to ‘prepare to live’. I believe it is natural that I want to find a better way to live, but my fear is keeping me stuck. I am still vulnerable and with vulnerability come emotions; clearly I am not good with emotions. Everything is real, it’s too real. I mentally disassociate from reality without even realizing until I am in a dreamlike state, I have done that since I was very, very young. I need to learn how to process my feelings and emotions internally. I am tired of living in fear everyday; it is overwhelming and very discouraging. I still don’t trust myself.
I want to feel safe from within; at peace with who I am, at peace with my life. It’s not so much about my surroundings; it is more about me and what’s going on in my mind. A looming darkness still exists and it’s hard to see in the dark.
I still find myself wanting to escape my own mind, to disconnect. It is still hard to be alone in my own company. I have not yet gotten used to sitting with my emotions, having to face them, having to make sense of them. All well trying to figure out who I am and what I want. We all want to feel comfortable with our surroundings and especially with who and what we are. Only with time am I learning about myself, getting to know who I am; it’s all new to me. Addiction has been the easiest way to avoid all of this, I never had to sit with myself, and I never had to listen to my thoughts and emotions. I was able to completely shut off my mind.
It’s still hard to recognize emotions and what they mean, it’s still hard to deal with my day to day, what’s ‘normal’ and what’s not. When you have self-sabotaged and caused yourself nothing but self-inflicted pain for so long it’s very difficult to change those habits. Many questions still remain unanswered but it seems with time answers arise and thing’s start to make sense. I want so badly to feel like I belong, to feel like everything is okay, I want to be able to enjoy each and every day; I want to be able to say I am happy. Like everyone; some days are great and some are really hard, some days I want to give up and give in to the temptations. I know better, I know that if I do I am asking for a whole world of trouble and pain. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Just because I know the consequences, just because I’ve seen what it’s done, I’ve seen where it leads; it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Although I am sober, my mind still hasn’t fully recovered (for lack of a better term); I don’t think it ever does. I am still set in my ways, my mind still has a way of justifying, and I still have two different people in my head that argue. I have the sober me, the recovering me, the person who tries everyday to do her best, the person who is content, the person that is learning. And then I have the addict part of me, that little bit of addict mentality that will take me a while to break; the person who is a liar, manipulator, a person who is selfish, a person who is lost. It does get easier with time, but like most people who have ever experienced addiction know that there are reminders everywhere. Little things, big things, it doesn’t matter which. But that’s part of recovery, learning to deal with those reminders and triggers, learning what ever strategies work for you, learning to be productive, learning to deal with your problems instead of running away from them; mentally, emotionally, physically. It’s a learning process, with new hurdles everyday. It becomes all about how you choose to handle what’s thrown at you. You learn to make choices, make decisions, but most of all you learn about yourself, who you are, and what you truly want.
Just when you think you’re ready to move on, ready to start over, ready to make things happen, it all comes crashing down to test your limits, test what you’re made of and whether or not you’re able to handle it. So that’s it, one step forward, two back? I don’t think so.
Let’s be real, you’re tested at your weakest moments. Or at least it seems that way. Maybe it’s just me, or maybe it’s just more noticeable when you feel weak. It can be extremely discouraging to feel positive and ready, and within a blink of an eye you’re down and out; again, a vicious cycle that seems to have no escape. Memories and triggers ignite without warning sometimes bringing you to your knees asking why, and reasonably so; to feel defeated and maybe even broken.
[because it’s one missed step, you’ll slip before you know it…]
Somewhere within, possibly deep within; it’s there, that thing that brought you this far, when you didn’t think it was remotely possible. It’s there patiently waiting to be found, to be reunited with the depths of your soul.