Posted by Super Star on Nov. 29, 2011
The following is an excerpt from my book, The First 30 Days to Serenity. The book takes a look at the feelings and emotions one can experience in the early stages of recovery. It was difficult to write, yet healing at the same time. And I am hoping that by sharing my vulnerabilities and experiences during those moments, someone else will find the strength to conquer another day sober.
It was also written for those struggling to understand addiction, with the hope that they can get a better insight into this disease that is fueled by stinkin’ thinkin’. As much as alcohol and drug addiction is a disease that affects the mind and body, it also is a disease that affects the whole family.
One family member with drinking or drug problems means the whole family can suffer. So for those who think addiction is contained to the individual, with the family playing merely a supporting role, it should be made clear that addiction is a family problem. It impacts the stability of the home, the family’s unity, mental health, physical health and overall family dynamic. And the family dynamic will gradually unravel unless each of its members gets the help and support they need.
For you, for me and as a goodbye to dependence on drugs and alcohol.
It’s almost 1 p.m. when I wake. Last night’s late arrival made a great excuse for me to sleep in. I open my eyes to see my girlfriend. She is still tired from waiting up for me. I get up and decide the first thing I need to do is call my brother to assess yesterday’s damage. I need to know how he's feeling. I want to know what transpired after I left. This call holds nothing but sheer misery for me, but I can't go forward until I know where I stand.
I'm banking on him not answering. He is probably still upset. I know I am. How could I have done this? I already miss him. I'm so very remorseful. I pick up the phone to call, and I was right.
He doesn't answer.
It's doubtful that it's because he's still sleeping. It's a choice; the same one I'd most
Like all addicts, I'm crafty when I need to be
likely make if I were him and he were me. I don't leave a voice mail. I'll just send him a text, wait it out, and hope for some sort of reply. I'm hanging on to any shred of hope that perhaps he's not as upset as I am thinking he is. Let's be honest, this way I can see if I can manipulate my way back to California.
I don't know how I can do that, but like all addicts, I'm crafty when I need to be and my only hope is for him to call back soon. I have questions that I feel need to be answered. No, I actually demand that they be answered. If they're not, I'll allow them to ruin my day, because that's what I always do. My self-pity is a game that has to stop, but it's easier said than done. As much as I have the desire and willingness to take responsibility for my actions, I still find it difficult. It's just so much easier to place the blame elsewhere. My addictive personality drives me straight here because of the damage my poor brain has endured from the drugs. I'm fine-tuned now to always search for the easy way out, an escape route that leaves me the possibility that I could go out and do more drugs.
Shit, I know this, and in a few weeks I'll hopefully be back to that place where my thoughts can be handled differently and effectively. I'm struggling, and with it comes the distracting thinking that allows room for nothing other than wondering what the hell my brother must be thinking at this very moment.
And that isn't good.
As much as I need to be reviewing and pondering the whirlwind of doom that I just created for myself and others, I also need to be fighting the grip of this addiction. Being this way always pulls me back and into a downward spiral, straight into another relapse. It's a fine line to walk. I know it's necessary to feel this remorse, but it's also important that I stay positive and in the moment. It's in this moment, right now, that I can begin the rebuilding process. If I concentrate and remain too much in the past, I'll never get to that place I need to be. This sobriety is a horse, and it's essential that I once again learn how to ride it.
But right now, in this moment, I'm not that strong. My thinking goes back to the many questions: Can this damage I have caused ever be undone? How long will I be here? I know Cindi said it would just be for a few days, but now 24 hours down the line, is this still what she is thinking? Would she want me to stay here longer? And if she does, do I have the right to demand my clothes be shipped to me?
God damn it! Why didn't my brother answer the phone? I want my questions answered now. Trust me, I am aware of how amazingly selfish I am being, but I don't even care. This is how I always feel the day after I relapse—poor me and screw everyone else. My moment of clarity has been lost. Can't anyone see that I'm the victim here? The grip from the drugs is far too powerful for me to escape at this weak and weary moment. I'm knee deep in my illusions, thinking that placing the blame on anyone else right now is completely acceptable. It's this poor me attitude that clearly proves my disease is looking for any way out right now. Any excuse I can find to go back out and use will be taken seriously. My disease seems to whisper, “It can't get any worse right now anyway.” However, something makes me stop.
I snap back into the moment. Thank God I am aware that it can get worse and it surely will if I decide to pick up that crack pipe again, just like it has gotten worse each and every time I've lost a hand against this formidable opponent. I have to get up and out of bed, stomp out these feelings of selfishness and somehow shake my woe is me attitude. I have to focus on today, right now, in this moment. My brother will call later. If he doesn't, he'll call tomorrow.
And if he doesn't, of course I know I have the ability to call him.
My girlfriend works for her dad almost every day. She tells me that she has no choice but to go to work this evening and I instantly feel the fear creep in. Is she really going
The hardest moments for an addict are always this darkness that blocks the way of the dawn
to allow me to stay home alone right now? I know she's not my keeper, but couldn't she put off work for one day to make sure I'm all right and hug and console me when I need hugs and consoling? I don't expect her to miss work, but it's beyond difficult to maneuver the early days after a relapse all alone. I feel so badly about myself. So horrible. So worthless. The hardest moments for an addict are always this darkness that blocks the way of the dawn.
I know Amanda wants nothing more than to help me. At the same time I know that from her perspective, showing even the slightest ounce of co-dependency or enabling on her part would be more detrimental to me and my recovery in the long run, so it's best that she goes to work. My past experiences have shown me that I would use this for malicious and manipulating purposes anyway which just leads back to that grueling, gripping place scattered with relapse and addiction.
However, a hug before she leaves would sure be nice.
I'll be okay. I'll use this time to reach out and make some phone calls to my friends back in California because even their long distance connection will help right now. But in a flash my feelings change. They always do. I'm an addict and like most addicts we can change the way we feel in an instant. It's a warped and twisted coping mechanism but even so I suddenly look forward to this evening alone. I feel strong in the fact that I've had no cravings this afternoon and even if I did, I'd have no way to leave the house. Amanda has the car and let's not forget that I gave her the money in my wallet last night and I'm damn glad that I did.
In an odd way I feel blessed. The other night's relapse hadn't happened in order for me to fulfill any cravings that I may have been having, because in reality I hadn't had any in quite some time. I got high just for the sake of getting high; that gnarled desire to get fucked up. I didn't want to be sober; it was so hard to be sober. I wanted to cope the easy way, the way that would get me through the day and through whatever feelings I was trying to cover. I'm never sure what feelings and emotions I'm running away from, but ultimately, that's the essence of why I do drugs, therefore it has to be for that reason and that reason alone.
Doing drugs is no longer for fun or recreation. It's my medicine and the other night I needed it. But what kind of moron takes medicine that can kill you in an instant? An addicted one, that's who. Despite the fact that I recently stopped working as a computer consultant (a job I never enjoyed) to start new ventures that I did enjoy and was living in Malibu, California, which I adore, I still found myself running away from something. But what? My rent was paid, my food bought for me and my designer clothes were given to me for free by my brother. Success in whatever I was ultimately going to end up doing for a living was eminent. After all, I was living in the entertainment capital of the world. What else could someone ask for?
We know we're going to get caught sooner or later. We want to be caught. We want help.
As obvious as it sounds, I now know that money does not buy happiness. What it does do is give an addict the ability to buy more drugs. All the good things that had filled my life were taken from me by the worst of thieves – myself. This is how strong the allure of my drug of choice is to me. What makes me even more disgusted and humiliated is the fact that I didn't understand that I was, without question, going to get caught. Oh, I knew it, but only on a subconscious level; not a conscious one. We know we're going to get caught sooner or later. We want to be caught. We want help. I knew I'd eventually lose everything I'd worked so hard to gain and truly cherished. It was just a matter of when. This alone demonstrates the sheer, raw power of my addiction. Everything I just mentioned easily fit into my crack pipe, and with one exhale, was blown out into a cloud of smoke. Now I am here, in Chicago, paying the price with this all-consuming unhappiness. Gone is the magnificent sound of the ocean and present is the sound of the train picking up people to take them to work with the dawn of a new day.
My brother calls. Apparently in order to get away he's flown to Alabama and is now at the racetrack with his future father-in-law. He doesn't want to talk to me and tells me so right off the bat. I know he's disgusted with me and hearing this in his voice is painful, and I can't take a whole lot more pain. Just a few seconds into this conversation I tell him that it's me who doesn't feel like talking. I am sickened with myself and I am sick of feeling this awful disgust that's way too familiar. I feel gross and the only good is that maybe, somehow, this will serve as the last time and I'll never be here, this low, again.
I am still too ashamed to make contact with Cindi. I don't want to think about what is going on in her head and my thinking is imbalanced. The few hits of crack from the other night have robbed me of logic. I'm in and I'm out. My feelings of resentment toward Marc and Cindi for sending me away are of course unwarranted. They had every right to banish me from their well-ordered life, but I know it's my addiction doing the thinking for me. After all, every ounce is my fault and it's very important to keep telling myself this. I have to, because the moment I stop remembering who got me here, it becomes someone else's fault
Amanda decides that she doesn't want any part of me today. I spend the day on the patio, wallowing in self-pity, reviewing and wondering where exactly it was that I went so wrong. Hours go by and I attempt to escape by renting a movie; a light one that will pick me up so I once again know what it feels like to crack a smile. I choose a comedy; a lousy one. How fitting, even though there probably isn't a movie on the planet that could make me laugh right now. Chicago has never been good for my mood and I am in Chicago—in a basement, away from my twin brother, unsure of how long I'll have to remain. I am an ungrateful, whiny bitch right now, and it's every single person's fault except my own.
I go to bed alone.
I don't know where Amanda is.
I don't care.
Three feeling check-in: angry, remorseful and disgusted.
I am fully aware that I didn't want to be in Chicago and would do whatever I could to get back to California. I even stated that I wanted to manipulate my brother into allowing me back if that opportunity presented itself. Manipulation is what we addicts do best. It's how we survive in the world. If you find yourself trying to manipulate anyone for any reason, a relapse could be close behind.
It's crazy to think that just 24 hours prior I was in a better place mentally than during this day. Why do I feel entitled to have my questions answered today when just yesterday I was willing to do anything to appease everyone around me? In this question lies the answer. It's obvious that my sobriety is not yet for myself. It needs to be in order for me to find success, but it's obvious that during this moment my disease was looking to play “the blame game”.
I went to bed angry and ungrateful blaming others. Anger and self-judgment have always been a reason for me to go out and use. Know what your emotional triggers are. Recognizing them as triggers is the starting point toward better understanding them and processing them so that they no longer fuel your addiction. It's important to utilize resources to learn different ways to cope with emotional triggers.
Although I own up to being responsible for the damage I caused, it's hard for me not to feel bad for myself without using that as a tool for manipulation. If people think I'm sad they will feel bad for me, and I will use that power for malicious purposes. It's great that I acknowledge that the self-pity has to stop. It's always easier said than done, but at least I'm thinking in that direction.
It's good that I recognize that as much as I want to fix things and understand what's going on in my brother's head, I MUST stay in the moment and focus on staying sober. I go in and out of being able to do this today, but I am aware of its importance and that's a start.
I realized that asking Amanda to stay home when I was not having a craving would've been selfish. Do not expect anyone to be your babysitter. Babysitting an addict would be a form of enabling. It's so important to know that if you're in the midst of a craving, tell someone in any way you can. If one person won't listen, then the next will. If they need to stay with you until the moment passes, this is not a form of babysitting. This is saving your life. It's a fine line, but there is a difference between the two. Don't be afraid to ask for the help.
I'm still too ashamed to call Cindi or to talk to my brother when he finally does call. Don't let shame turn into depression. Just feel ashamed. Feel dirty and feel the remorse. As soon as you appreciate it for what it is and understand that it won't last, you will find you're already rebuilding your relationship and your own self-respect.