Tag Archives: family

Death, Family, and Dealing With Stigma

Sorry that I have been MIA recently. I have been very busy with work. I actually up for a promotion so hopefully that works out. I really, truly enjoy wear I work and who I work with. I have not ever enjoyed a job this much.
The main reason that I have been absent as of late is due to the death of my Grandfather. He was very sick, as I had mentioned in my previous post, so we knew that his time with us was comming to a close. That doesn’t make his death any easier. It stings extra hard because I was going to say goodbye to him the afternoon that he died after I had finished babysitting my niece, but he passed that morning.
I was not at all prepared for how upset my six year old son was going to be. When he got home from school that day I told him the news. Later that night I went into is room where he was crying. He doesn’t really understand death, but he knows that he will miss his Great-Grandfather. When I explained the concept of the viewing, that he could say “Goodbye” and that while Grandad couldn’t respond, he could see and hear us, Aidan said, “Oh, he’s in a hot air balloon or something?” Something like that buddy.
For the viewing and church funeral (the burial hasn’t happened yet as it takes Arlington National Cemetary about a month to scheduale a burial) a good deal of family flew in from California, Denver, New Jersey, Alabama, etc. The same family that has shunned me for years, has refused to speak or look at me to be perfectly honest was now in the same room, restaurant. Some of them would awkwardly say hello and ask about the kids. Let me be clear that this is not all of my family, it is just some and they are both in state and out of state.
If looks could kill… Listen, I know that I fucked up a time or two when I was in my active addiction. I have apologized however. These are people who pride themselves on their Catholic upbringing, yet look at me and my husband, my sister and her boyfriend like we are parasites.
They are like a lot of people who feel that they are above anyone who has struggled with addiction not realizing how easy it is to get sucked in. People also fail to understand that addiction forever changes the chemical makeup of your brain making relapse so easy. We do not want to relapse anymore than a person with cancer wants their disease to come back, it just does.
Likewise, we are not stupid, lazy, bad people. We try to overcome our disease, we try to make amends for our past transgressions. We try to move on, but often it is the judgement of others that holds us back. In fact, a great deal of the time, people refuse to seek help for their addiction because they know who they will be treated and looked at for the rest of their life once people know the truth about them.
I just don’t understand why even people who know that it is wrong to discriminate against others due to race or religion or gender feel like it is perfectly acceptable to look down upon someone who has the disease of addiction. We are people too. Honestly people have gone through and beaten addiction are some of the kindest, strongest, smartest, and most compassionate people out there. We have fought tooth and nail to achieve and to maintain our sobriety. We have spit on and discriminated against. We have seen people and their lowest and have worked through the depths of our despair.

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Death and Getting the Most Out of Life

Yesterday, my husband and I went to visit my Grandfather in the hospital. He is 92 and he is most likely dying. He has been in and out of the hospital a lot this year. Usually after a day or two he is back at his assisted living home. The previous time, it was determined that he was not well enough to go back to Harmony Hall (the assisted living) and had to move to Lorien (a near by nursing home).
When he was in the hospital that time, he came in at 165 pounds. His doctor was incredibly worried about his weight and stressed how important it was that he not loose any more weig. He is at 130 now, normal for him is about 210. Appatently no food is getting into his stomach, it is all getting into his lungs. He is beginning to refuse treatment, and it seems inevitable that the end is near for him.
As he lay in his hospital bed asleep yesterday, I was struck by how much he reminded me of my father. My grandfather, who is my mother’s father, is a mere she’ll of his former self, just as my father was before he died. Of course one glaring difference is that my granddad is 92 while my dad was 42.
I am trying to clebrate his life instead of only mourning his death. When I think back on his remarkable life, I am struck by just how much a person can accomplish in a lifetime. He served in WWII as a marine where he received, not one but two Purple Hearts. He moved on to the CIA where he worked directly under J. Edgar Hoover and the first George Bush. Hell, he even bought a car from George Bush and had to go back over to their house to get Barbra to sign the title over because George forgot to. He was interviewed to have his life story documented for the Library of Congress. Him and my grandmother (who was a premier cryptologist in WWII) raised 7 kids (an eighth died at the age of six months) while traveling all around the world, living in Germany, Japan, France, Spain and other places.
The stories he has, my mother has, my aunts and uncles have, my grandmother had from living all over the world could create the most extravagant movie. His life is truly inspiring.
I look at all that he has done, and I realize how little I have done. I have stressed and spoken before of how much I fear death and how I feel like I am starting my life so very late. I ruined so much potential I have, and now at 30 I am starting fresh. I am just now, finally doing something in a field that I am passionate about. I am at a base position, but I am good at it and I like it. I get compliments. I hope that I can use this has a jumping point to launch my career in makeup and cosmetics. To me, makeup is more than a fun little pastime or accessory- it is my passion.
As I sit here with tears welling up in my eyes thinking of losing my beloved Granddad, I realize how profoundly honored I am to have even met such a remarkable and one in a trillion man. He has taught me so very much. Watching him take care of my grandmother after she had a stroke that paralyzed half of her body, and seeing how devoted he was to her up until her death showed me what true love really is.
Grandad, I am praying everyday that you are able to pull through this as you have done every other time, but if not, I can honestly say that anyone who was ever able to meet you was blessed. I love you and will miss you terribly.

2015, A New Year, A Time For New Growth

This is the time of the year when everyone makes their New Year’s resolutions. Me, I’m not much for resolutions per se, I find that 90% of the time they are impractical and people end up breaking them anyway. What I am about is straying to better oneself. Of course this is something that we should all be working on anyway, but we often forget to do it.
Last year, I got back into Tibetan Buddhism again. It has always been something that I studied, but in 2014, I got back into inserting those teachings into my life. Something that I had not been in the habit of doing when I was getting high all day everyday. I find that for me, personally, Buddhism gives me a great deal of peace, something that I have been searching for my entire life.
One thing that I am going to try this year is to stop be so fucking afraid of failing and go after my dreams. I got a seasonal job at Ulta Beauty, and it seems that I will stay on as a permanent employee, so I have gotten my foot in the door. I have talked to some of the girls that I work with who have a makeup artistry license, and they told me of a really good, world renowned school in our area. My goal is to just do it.
I think that anyone who is a parent wants a better life for their children than the one that they had. I don’t really know when or why I started to become so self destructive. I honestly feel like I was born with a hole or a void in my heart and soul. The death of my father and my subsequent rape (not to mention being molested as a a young child) served to farther stretch this hole. Looking back, I don’t know if I was trying to fill the void or just numb the pain of it being there.
I am well aware of the statistics of children of addicts and their likelihood to become addicts themselves. It is most definitely a gene that is passed on, and my kids get it from both sides. I am terrified to think that they may go down the same road as me and my husband.
I am very conflicted on how to broach the subject of drug use with my children when they are of that age. Do we tell them about our struggles, arrests, the hell that we both personally went through? Will this serve to scare them straight so to speak or will the see this as an excuse to use drugs? Sort if like we would be hypocrites to tell them that drugs are bad?
My daughter is so much like me in so many ways. She is such a rule follower. A goody two shoes of sorts, but so was I. I was probably one of the LAST people that one would expect to develop a heroin addiction. From my family history, my upbringing, my graduating at the top of my class, going to college on scholarship with honors, never getting in trouble of any sorts. That is the thing, drug addiction doesn’t care who you are, it can strike anyone, anywhere, at anytime.
Not just for 2015, but for the rest of my kids childhood, I am constantly working towards being the best mother that I can. Most importantly I want to be a good role model. These are “resolutions” that I can keep.

Holidays for the Junkies

With New Year approaching (and Christmas recently behind us) people use this time to get together with their families. This can be stressful times for anyone. There are unique struggles that are faced by addicts at this time of year.
If your family doesn’t know that you have a drug habit, you are particularly fucked. See, your addiction doesn’t know to take a break because it is Thanksgiving or Christmas. Most dealers will still meet you (we even had a dealer give us a big plate if Thanksgiving dinner one year because we were living in a hotel with warrants), but you have to figure out an excuse for why you are dipping out in the middle of the family dinner. You may be able to do it unnoticed if you are not living with family or staying with them for the Christmas break. If that is the case, you can cop real quick before you go to dinner. The problem is that while most dealers will still meet you, the pawn shops and whatnot are closed, so getting loot can be difficult.
Generally what most addicts try to do is get enough drugs to last them. You know cop double on Christmas Eve or the day before Thanksgiving. This of course is easier said than done. For one, you have to come up with at least double the money. You need your normal amount for Christmas Eve, plus that amount again for Christmas, and preferably a gate shot for the next morning.
Lack of funds is not the only difficulty that you face. The other issue with having enough shit, is that we are fiends, addicts. Just because theoretically you have enough to last, that doesn’t mean that you will make it last. It reminds me of when we were on Food Stamps or (S.N.A.P. as they call it now). We would receive like $650 a month for our family of four. This is obviously not enough for a family of four for an entire month. So, what Inwould do is go to B.J.’s or Costco when the money went on and spend around $300-$400. Getting all that bulk food made the money go farther. The problem was that my kids would see all of that food and think that would last forever. They would eat too much, too fast. I feel like junkies are sort of the same way when it comes to having a bunch of dope. It is too easy to fall into the trap of, “we have enough, we can do some more.” Before you know it, you only have one shot left for Christmas Day.
If your family is ignorant to your habit, you also need to be careful to not do too much. You don’t want to be ripped as balls at the dinner table, nodding out into the mashed potatoes and shit. Even if they do know, out of respect, you probably don’t want to be too high.nyour family doesn’t want to see that shit.
New Year’s Eve is uniquely challenging in a multitude of ways. For one it is hot as fuck trying to cop on New Year’s Eve. All of the cops that were on vacation for a christmas are back. Also, it the very last day to try to make their quotas for the year. My hubby got locked up early in the morning on December 31, 2012 with 35 pills.
Not having enough drugs for the holidays is the absolute worst thing in the world. I watched an interview with Russell Brand once. He was talking about how as an addict he would frequently have to smuggle heroin on to the plane. When asked why he would take that risk, he explained that it wouldn’t be a vacation with out the drugs, it would be hell. He said, “You could be sitting on the beach in Hawaii, shivering, freezing.” That’s exactly how it is for a person who is in active addiction. Without dope, you are going to be sick and miserable. Besides the fact that you will be struggling and hating life, it is a giveaway to your loved ones.
The flip side of N.Y.E. is if you’re a recovering addict this is rough holiday. Everyone is drinking and/or getting high. You’re being offered drugs constantly. People don’t understand that you can’t just do coke tonight, or E, or whatever. New Years’s Eve can be one of the biggest tests of your sobriety and willpower. Your safest bet is to just stay home, but that isn’t for everyone.
Good like to everyone this New Year’s Eve, and have a wonderful 2015!

The Ghosts of Sexual Trauma Past

About two weeks ago (give or take) I wrote a post called “Leave Me the F!@# Alone”.  I was talking about who the man who raped me (at the time that I thought he was my best friend and true confidant), contacted me from Mexico offering to buy me a plane ticket to come stay with him. He also offered to help pay any of my bills if I so desired or needed the help. I feel like this is all a way for him to purge his soul, his penance so to speak.  While, he still refuses to admit that he raped me, he apologizes profusely saying that I didn’t deserve any of the hurt that he out me through. As for the rape, he feels that it was a breakdown in communication.

Every time he reaches out to me, I am thrown into a whirlwind of depression and self-doubt. As much as I try to say that I forgive him in order to move on with my life, the mere mention of him sends my almost gone PTSD into overdrive.

Along the lines of running into people that I wish that I could just forget, I ran into my cousin who molested me as a small child on Halloween. She lives in the neighborhood where we took (and always take) our children trick-or-treating. I knew that she lives in the same zip code as me, no more than two miles away, but I have never seen her, nor did I know which was her house. Of course to farther complicate and muck up the situation was the fact that it was not just my husband and I with out two children. We were still with my sister and her boyfriend and their 20 month old daughter as well as my mother. My sister doesn’t know that this is who molested me. Actually, the only reason that she even knows that I was molested at all is from reading about it on this very blog. As for my mother, I have told her but I get the impression that she doesn’t believe me or doesn’t care or something. Her reaction upon me telling her what my cousin did to me was the exact nonchalant indifference that kept me from telling her for so many years. Ironically enough, my rapist was the first person that I told this information to, after he told me about how he had been molested as a child. This shared pain was what I though bonded us at a deep, un-breakable level. Boy, was I ever wrong?

Of course, my sister and mother wanted to say hello to my cousin that we haven’t spoken to in years. I walked a few steps ahead refusing to look at her and well up with burning hot tears of hatred and anger. As with getting the call from the man who raped me, seeing this woman brought back vivid, brutal flashbacks.

It is particularly cruel and odd to see and hear from the two people who so deeply betrayed me so close together. It reminded me how much I am not over the events that shaped my life in such a profound way. It did show me that I have made progress though. Seeing my cousin gave me flashbacks that day and the next. I still am thinking bout her, obviously, but if this same run-in had happened 10 years ago, I would have been a wreak for months.

The hint with my rapist is a fresher wound as it was 11 years later. Also, I was older, he was older. I trusted him in a very adult manner. He was the basket that I put all of my eggs into after the death of my father and the incident with my cousin. I have to say that I am a little bit proud that I am not still in a tailspin after these two events.

We Are Not the Same, I am a Martian

 

“Bitch, I’m a motherfucking Martian/ I’m a goddamn zombie.” – ‘Martians vs. Goblins’ by The Game

Last night, I was  practicing spooky Halloween looks on myself and my children. I found a makeup academy that I will likely enroll in once the new year hits, and I have been learning and practicing all sorts of makeup tricks. I have only been working on practical makeup applications however. If I one day want to be a makeup artist, I need to know how to do special effects makeup. So, I traveled to Walgreens and bought a Halloween makeup kit and got to work.

I was trying to think of what looks to do, what would be something scary for me and/or my husband to be when we take our children trick-or-treating tonight. I am also doing my kids makeup. My son is a Swamp Creature, so he gets creepy makeup, but my daughter is (one of the millions) Elsa, so she is getting very pretty, soft makeup.  Anyway, it occurred to me that perhaps the scariest thing that I could do woul

What is more terrifying - a zombie apocalypse or realizing that you or your kids could become addicts?
What is more terrifying – a zombie apocalypse or realizing that you or your kids could become addicts?

d be to accentuate my track marks and scars, and go as a junkie. Too be even more terrifying, I could dress up as a lawyer or a doctor and have a needle in my arm.

Even though there are literally millions of people in America struggling with substance abuse, it is still terrifying for people to think that any of those people could be in their neighborhood or even,a God forbid, in their family. Still, in 2014, we as addicts are forced to remain in the shadows, to keep our struggles silent for fear of retribution and ostracism.

My own mother, who has two daughter who are addicts, often remarks about how shocked she is to see certain people at my methadone clinic whenever she gives me rides. “That person is so old, what are they doing here?”, or, “That person is a (fill in doctor, nurse, UPS driver, person in an expensive suit), where they using heroin too?” I always tell her that first off, a person theoretically could have never used heroin a day in their life, but still very much need the assistance of a methadone clinic. Nowadays, the prescription pill addiction problem is at epidemic proportions. So many doctors hand out prescriptions for Percocet, OxyCotin, Vicodin, or what have you like they are giving out Advil. They don’t even usually ask or try to find out if the person has a history of substance abuse. The thing is, though, that if a person takes any opioids for a long enough period of time, they WILL become addicted. It is just a fact. Now if you are not pre-dispositioned to addiction (I.e. one or both of your parents, or grandparents were addicts), or if you have never previously been physically addicted to anything (thus forever altering your brain chemistry), then it will take you longer to become addicted, but you will eventually.

See, despite what a lot of people want to say or think about people who struggle with the living hell that is substance abuse, is that it is not simple a matter of will power. These are very powerful drugs.the fact is that taken for a long enough period of time, your brain and body will NEED them to simply function at all.

I actually don’t have a problem with doctors giving people these medications if they truly need them. Some people are going to be on these meds for the rest of lives due to chronic pain, so dependence is not really an issue. The problem comes for the people for whom the doctors decide after six months r however long, that they are no longer in need of these pain pill, that their pain should be manageable with over the counter medications and home remedies. I find it incredibly irresponsible to just one day, after months and moths of giving a person powerfully addictive medicines, to say, “No more for you!”

I wish there was some sort of law where doctors were forced to give patients a prescription for suboxone or methadone for a very brief period (decreasing the dose daily as to not trade addictions), or ween them off of the pain pills slowly once they determine that the need for these medications with regards to the patient’s pain level is not there any longer. They should also probably make, or strongly recommend that the person attend NA meetings, or they should at least make them take some sort if class on addiction and the brain.

Patients who have no history of addiction in themselves or in their family will not think they need any of this. The problem is that more than likely, they have never gone a day or two without taking any of these pills since having their script, so they do not know that they are addicted. A lot of these people find out the hard way that they are addicted and turn to illegally buying what they previously prescribed. Now they are “junkies” and “worthless”. Funny how that works. Some of these people end up at the methadone clinic.

I also try to explain to my mother, and to others, that if I have learned one thing from my years of waiting in lines to cop, is you never know who you will see in the hole. Addiction does care about class, race, gender, socio-economic status, or your job, it hits all walks of life. It can sink it’s claws into a millionaire as easily as a homeless person.

I think that that is the aspect of addiction that is so petrifying to people, especially wealth, educated, WASP sort of people. A lot of people that are outside of the “ghetto” feel safe and comfortable believing that addiction stays within the confines of the projects, that it does not venture into the suburbs. Seeing a middle or upper class business person as a drug addict is scary because it means that they are not safe. It is almost like holding up a mirror, but it is reflecting back a version of themselves if they got into a car accident a need a script for pain pills. It is almost their life. It is easy for people to ignore what they perceive as far away from their own lives. Maybe this is why we as addicts are shunned so much. People do not want to look closely enough to see that we are no different from them.

But You’re So Smart

But You’re So Smart

One sweltering hot August night, Aaron and I were up at his brother’s house. We were all sitting outside in their West Virginia garage drinking, and listening music with my sister -in-law, her brother and his wife, and my mother-in-law. At around one in the morning or so, after hours and hours of drinking, my mother-in-law turned to me and said, “Amy, you are so, so smart, I will never understand why you make such dumb choices sometimes.” Touché mama!
She is not wrong, though, and she didn’t mean her remark as an insult, more as an observation. Her issue (and the vast majority of societies issue) is that I am seem as an anomaly. I have been asked in all seriousness why I make such bad depictions when I have an above average intelligence. He easy answer is : the drugs, but that is a cop out answer, and in all honesty, is not really the answer that they want. What people want to know is why I let myself develop a heroin addiction when I am so smart. Why did I throw so much away when I seemingly had everything going for me?
Even today, in the year 2014 people seem to have a hard time doing anything other than equating addiction with stupidity. Only an extreme lack of intelligence would allow someone to ruin their own life over and over again. I think that comes from the fat that it is easier and ultimately very comforting in allowing yourself to say that you could never develop a drug problem because you are far to intelligent to do so. Facing the reality that you could become an addict as easily as getting in a bad car accident and being prescribed heavy pain pills and becoming physically addicted to them is ultimately terrifying to people. Especially people who hate to surrender any control at all. Addiction takes the control of your own life out of your hands and into the hands of your drug of choice.
Looking back, the answer as to how I could have let myself become a heroin addict while being “so smart”, is that I was too smart for my own good. After my first arrest, which was sort of a fluke in which me, my sister, and my husband (who was just a friend who I saw occasionally at that point) were arrested for theft at a grocery store. Since my car was left in the parking lot of the Korean shopping center where we were pulled over and arrested, my mom had to pick me and my sister up from jail. (Also, my sister was a minor.) she wanted to know why we were stealing so much baby formula from the store. I had to sit her down and explain that we sold the formula to corner stores in Baltimore. Of course, she was perplexed as to why we would be needing to do this at all. I then had to tell her that I was using the funds to buy heroin and crack. Yeah, that was fun.
She immediately signed my sister and I up for the juvenile outpatient program at Mountain Manor rehab facility. I remember doing my intake interview with a counselor there. I was explaining to him how I didn’t need to be there, at it was all my mother’s idea. I explained at I could get high for two weeks straight and then do nothing for a month. Or I would get high two to three days a week for two months straight. I was never sick. I didn’t need heroin, I just liked it. I could stop if I wanted to. See, while I may be smart enough not to let YOU trick me, I will easily allow my own brain to trick me. When the counselor asked me if I thought that I could keep this pattern of using and abstinence up forever, I told him that I knew that I could. I was an honor student at one of the top 25 schools in the country, drugs would not take over my life.
Oh how wrong I was. That’s the thing, heroin doesn’t care how smart, or nice, or pretty you are. It will fuck your life up all the same. I think that my brain, my intelligence, was ultimately a reason to get high. I quickly discovered that when I was ripped as balls, my brain slowed down. My thoughts stopped whirling at 200 mph. I stopped stressing, over-thinking, and questioning everything. For a brief period of time, I was able to stop hating myself. I was able to take a break from thinking about all the reasons why I hated myself.
I read a study that was saying that higher intelligence lead to higher addiction rates. Over time the humans that have survived, that have succeeded have been the people that were willing to try new things. People with higher intelligence are more likely to try drugs as apart of their mission to try everything. The problem is that it is hard to just do drugs a few times. I think it also comes from people needing to shut their brains up for a brief period of time. It is a vacation from your own mind. If you Google “geniuses with drug problems”, it is surprising how many people are listed.
It is important to realize that NO ONE is too smart to be sucked in by addiction. The smartest thing one can do is to understand that you are not smart enough to control heroin or meth or coke and it’s potential control over your life. Once the drug has you, you make what outsiders will view has stupid choices. These are really calculated risks that you are taking. For example, you know that stealing is illegal and you could get arrested, but you scope out the scene and decide that the risk is not all that high and they are odds that you are comfortable. You are willing to take that risk because while there may be a small chance that you could be arrested and then get time if you commit this crime, or you could be arrested for actually buying your drug if choice, there is a 100% chance that you will be sick as fuck if you don’t come up with money somehow and purchase the drugs.
I’m not saying that I didn’t do some dumb shit while getting high, I most definitely did. What I am saying is the things that look like such dumb actions, my arrests and convictions for example, are really times that I rolled the dice and lost. Obviously, the arrests are just the tip of the iceberg of things that I regret, but that is a whole other bag of worms.
Really, at the end of the day, what I am trying to say is, people far smarter than you or I have fallen victim to the trap of drugs. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you can control drugs or control your life while using drugs, you can’t, they will control you.

One Ex-junky, Stay At Home Mother Trying To Find Her Place in The World

Just me, whoever that is
Just me, whoever that is

I find that one of the most difficult things about truly recovering from a drug habit that extended for many years or decades, is to figure out who you are without the drugs. When you are getting high, there is a great deal of people in your life that will undoubtedly identify you as “the drug addict”. Whoever you were prior to their discovery of your drug use, whatever talents, faults, personality traits that you used to have go out the window and are replaced by the singular, all encompassing fact that you get high.
Unfortunately, after awhile perception tends to become reality. Especially if you spend the majority of your time doing activities that in some way relate to you using whatever your drug of choice is. Be it stealing, copping, getting high, hiding your drug use, whatever. You become (at least in your mind) “just an addict” if you are not careful.
It is similar to when people get into a relationship with another person and loose their identity outside of that relationship. For many of us, heroin or meth or crack, whatever, IS our significant other. We are in a dependent relationship. It is hard to maintain or friendships and relationships with people are not using. We often loose site of our hobbies and passions as well.
When we quit getting high and everything that goes with it, we are left with a huge void that we must fill. Many of our friends and family members that we were close with before what I call “the drug years”, have given up on us and want nothing to do with us. Either they have decided that they don’t want to be friends with someone who ever used hardcore drugs and needed said drugs to function in life, or maybe they had re-kindled the relationship before, in previous times of sobriety. Maybe they are done with the roller coster and assume that this will not last. Maybe they don’t understand that it takes the average addict nine attempts at getting clean before it sticks. For whatever reason, many of our sober friends are out of the picture.
Then you have the people that you used with, boosted with, copped with or from. Some of these people you may consider friends, most of them you probably don’t as it was just a relationship that was developed out of convenience. One of the first things that they imprint onto your brain at any rehab is to “change you people, places, and things”. The associates is no big deal, but the few real friendships that you may have developed over the course of your addiction are hard to let go of. People’s true colors come out, many people use any kindness or trust that you have as a weakness and use it to get over on you. When you find someone that you get high with and doesn’t ever fuck you over, even in the worst of the addictions, that is a rare and beautiful thing. Unfortunately, no matter how good of a friend they are, if you always use when with them, it is almost impossible to stay friends with them. You try, and at first it is cool, but inevitably, you want to get high when together because that is what you always did. If both people are clean, then you can hang out on rare occasions, but the friendship will never be as it was.
So at this point in time, you are freshly sober and virtually friendless. Obviously, this is not a good thing, you need a support system, someone to call when you feel like getting high. Some way, some person to listen when all the feelings hat you have kept dormat for years come to the surface. I suppose that this is why NA and AA are so wildly popular. I have discussed some of my personal issues with certain members of NA. For any of all of it’s faults, it is an excellent support system. It is an outlet. A way to talk and to have people listen and support you. It is very important to have people tell you that you are a decent person even if you did some awful things when getting high. It also extremely important, vital actually that you work out whatever issues that you had BEFORE you started to use drugs. Especially if you used as a way to self medicate some sort of pain, be it mental, emotional, or physical. Counselors, therapists and addiction specialists recommend that you go to a specialist for whatever the issue is that ails you. You are told that you should get prescriptions for this stuff. Illegally procuring these medication is a slippery slope. Especially for physical pain, it is how many people get addicted to hard drugs. They start buying percs on the street and then start to realize that it is much, much cheaper and foyer easier, to just buy heroin. Not to mention than a large percentage of recovering addicts are on parole or probation, and even if they are not, they probably have a rather lengthy criminal record. Getting busted with prescription medicines that are not your prescription is the same as possessing heroin or cocaine. The courts don’t care if you need it. They contend that if you truly needed it, then you would have a prescription written by a doctor.
You end up feeling kind of like a shell of a person. If you had been using for a particularly long time, you may have forgotten who you were before the drug sunk their claws into you. That is sort of where I am. I have had periods, some of them extended periods, of sobriety, but I started smoking weed at 15, doing E, coke, Special K etc. but 17, and buy 19, I was shooting heroin and cocaine, and smoking ready. I had my daughter at age 21. I am trying to figure out who I am without chemicals. I have over two years clean, and I still do not know. What I do know, is that I don’t want to be who I was while getting high.
In some ways I feel like I am having a mid-life crisis at the age of 30. I didn’t finish school, and As I was taking classes for being an Elementary school teacher, some of those credits are now useless. With my record, especially being as that I have a drug conviction (possession of a controlled deadly substance – not marijuana) I would never be allowed to be a teacher. Ironic, as my high school chemistry teacher was arrested for child pornography and for sexually assaulting students, another teacher at my high school was arrested for being apart of a drug ring that sold E, methamphetamine, and the date rape drug Roypnol, but no matter how much time passes, I who has never, ever hurt or neglected a child will never be allowed to work with children because of a single drug conviction, which is now a decade old. I would even understand making a person with a drug conviction who wanted to teach be subjected to weekly, multi-weekly or surprise drug tests, but the fact of the matter is that I can not become an elementary school teacher, I also can not go back to teaching preschool.
Personally, I really can not go back to waitressing or bar-tending. I need a career. I need a job where I can move up, get raises, have vacation pay, 401K, etc. My husband has a union job, so we have good health insurance, but a secondary insurance would not be a bad thing. I have this need to do something that matters in some small way. I need to feel like I am helping someone. I would love to do some sort of charity work, but I think that I will do addiction counseling.
I uses to have so many goals, hobbies, ambitions. For example, in high school, I taught myself to play guitar. I wrote songs, played Hole songs, etc. In one of my biggest regrets from my “drug years” I sold my Venus Vista guitar. It was a beautiful black and silver-ish, white-ish guitar that was designed by my idol Courtney Love. Actually, if you look up any pictures of Hole in concert between 1997 and like 2004 this is the guitar that Ms. love normally used. She tended to use the one in sea foam green, which is what Inreally wanted, but anyway. They stopped making the guitar and now it is very difficult to find, and very expensive when you do. It was a gift, given to me by the guy who raped me which is part of why I got rid of it (also I was ill), but I wish I still had it. My ex has my other guitar, and I haven’t played since I got rid of the Venus. I still write poetry, albeit not nearly as often.
I am a mother and a wife, and a damn good one, but that can’t be all that I am. I need to have some sort of identity. Sometimes, I feel that all I am is “mother/wife/recovering addict”. I have just had my two year anniversary of sobriety, but I need more than just being clean. Who am I? I’m not who I was before I started using. I have been through too much, seen too much to ever go back to that somewhat innocent, somewhat naive girl. I don’t want to be the person who was getting high, working to get high, stealing to get high, needing heroin to function, to work, to be a mom. I am stuck in a limbo trying to become a new person all together.

Intervention – Don’t Believe The Hype

There is a very popular show on cable television, I believe it is on A&E, called “Intervention”. The show is an hour long per episode and is broken into two half hour segments. The first half features the addict in the addicted state ruining their lives and the lives of everyone around them. The family talks about how the addict uses around them, forces them to give money to procure their drug of choice, steals the family car, whatever.
Then, the intervention specialist comes in and arranges the intervention. They set up a meeting and bring in the addict, unsuspecting and bombard them with a massive guilt trip. They then force the addict into treatment. Usually at the end they do a follow up right after the addict has left treatment to say how good they are doing now. They don’t show the addict in six months, a year or three years. I am willing to bet that the reason is that they are no longer clean.
Well, I am here to tell you that it doesn’t work that way. First of all, they find the worst of the worst addicts. Most addicts I know do not steal their family’s cars. I know one person who one time took his sister’s car keys to cop and then brought the car back. I do know some people who have used a parent’s or family member’s spare car with permission. Secondly, on these shows (at least all the episodes that I have seen) the family members of the addicts are total enablers. They hand over money whenever the addict asks. They let the addict rule the house. Addicts are not monsters. Yes, the may do some bad shit now and then, but usually they love their family, they do not wish to burn the one bridge that has always been their for them. These people let the addicts rule the entire house, often the extended family as well. They then wonder why their child, spouse, whoever acts this way. It is human nature pure and simple. People bush the limits to see what they can get away with. I’m sorry, but these people are almost as much at fault as the addict.
Anyone who knows almost anything about me knows that I absolutely adore Courtney Love. I have read many interviews where she said that she ultimately felt that she was at fault for Kurt Cobain’s suicide because she participated in and allowed an intervention to take place at their shared home. She said that they took an addicted, incredibly depressed man and made him feel ganged up upon. She explained that it was at this point that he refused treatment and would disappear into the Seattle underworld for days or weeks at a time. When at first he refused treatment she told him that he couldn’t get high in the house. After the intervention back fired, she stated that she told him to ONLY do drugs in the houses he got out of control. She said that the intervention lead to his suicide. She is of course taking the blame for something that is ultimately not her fault, but she is right.
I personally, have never had an intervention pulled on me, but my husband has. It was before we were together, shortly after his family found out about his heroin use. He was able to hide it for a few years, going to work every day, mail ting relationships, having money etc. his girlfriend at the time would steal hiss mom’s ATM card while he was at work, get money, put the card back, go in town, get high, and be back before he got home. She played it off to him that she was going out boosting while he was at work, which since they did this together, would seem legit. One day his parents’ card got declined for a purchase of a hundred dollars or so when they should have been thousands. Now they had been spending a lot, but they knew that they should not be broke. They called the police and the FBI got involved. They brought back pictures of my hubby’s ex, and her friend at the ATM. They could press charges and get the money back or no charges, no money. The problem was that they were going to charge my husband as an accomplice. They didn’t want him with the felony and a federal charge, so they kicked out the girlfriend and let it go. He did, however, have to come clean about why she would be stealing all of this money.
They were shocked to discover that he had been using for years. He came home from work one day to find his whole family waiting. Brothers, sister-in-laws, aunts, etc. I don’t know how it works everywhere, but Maryland has a law that if a certain number of people stage an intervention and say that a person needs treatment, then that person has to go. They don’t have to stay.
So, as the law required, my husband went into in-patient rehab. He stayed for a few days and then left AMA (against medical advice). When he left, his relationship with his family was shot, he move into an apartment in Baltimore where you can stay for $10 a night with a bunch of other addicts. His habit got way, way worse then it was. His relationship with his parents has now recovered, but not with all of his family.
We are both now clean and sober, but he didn’t get clean due to the intervention. That is the kicker, you can not make an addict get clean. You can force them into treatment, but if they don’t want it, really want it, they will relapse. This is why so many addicts on parole or probation that have months or years of back of time, go back to jail after submitting a dirty urine or because they failed to complete treatment. It doesn’t matter how many logical reasons one has to do well or stay clean, they have to want it. They have to “hit rock bottom”. Some addicts are far from the bottom. Some are functioning addicts.
Sadly, thanks to the A&E show and other media portrayals, friends and family of addicts have it in their head that they can stage an intervention and their addicted loved one will change their life forever. It is fiction. It is better to be patient with the addict. Show them love and support. Let them know that you care for them and that you love them regardless, but that you feel that they would be happier sober. Remind them of their life pre-drugs. Do not guilt trip them. At the end of the day, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t teach him to drink.

The Dangers Of Hiding Our Scars

One time I read a quote about how there is no one stronger on the face of the Earth as an addict who has managed to achieve and maintain sobriety. I couldn’t agree more. I have gone through a lot in my life. Rape, near death (through overdose and guns drawn on me), jail, loss of friends and family, and more bullshit than I care to get into in this blog, but overcoming addiction and managing to stay sober to this date was (and is) by far the hardest thing that I have ever gone through.

My question then is if we as recovering addicts are the strongest people on Earth, why are we shunned by the rest of the world? In 2007, I came home from jail after I had spent Christmas and New Years Eve away from my daughter locked behind bars waiting for a bail to be granted so that I could get bailed out on four different warrants. I came home sober to a very different life than I had before I went to jail. My husband was also locked up on a no bail warrant. (Actually, our no bail warrants both arose from a charge in which we were co-defendants. We were charged with everything from first, second, and third degree assault, to theft, to conspiracy.) One of my best friends was locked up in the strict-as-fuck Commonwealth of Virginia.

I knew that going out boosting was simply not an option. First of all, my partners in crime (my husband and my best friend being held captive in Virginia) were both locked up and thus un-available. Second of all anyone who steals (or whores or deals) in order to receive drugs knows that you simply cannot continue that activity if you wish to remain clean and sober. 

Well, I was a single mother with a daughter for whom I was the sole provider of, I needed a job ASAP. I got a job at an UNO’s Pizzeria. I never told a sole there about my history. When I had court dates, I made up an excuse as to why I needed to miss work that day. I was in a women’s addiction group every Wednesday night that I told my managers was a photography class. I told co-workers that I was separated from my husband instead of saying that he was in jail (eventually I did say that he was in jail, I just didn’t tell them that it was drug related).

I lied. I hid my scars both physical and emotional. I wore long selves all the time in order to hide my track marks. I thought that if I just hid my past from everyone new that I met then I could just become a new person. It didn’t work. I was hiding from myself. When I relapsed, I kept lying and pretending that I was not an addict. Know what happened? I got high for three more years. 

We as addicts need to admit our truth. Maybe not to everyone, but we shouldn’t lie. We need to be honest with ourselves. We are and always will be addicts. Society is not going to just decide to accept addicts out of the blue. We have to force acceptance. This will be an uphill battle of course, but I believe that it can happen. When I was in high school and college and diagnosed with a whole slew of psychological disorders it was so very taboo. Being on anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medicines of any sort was something that you just did not admit to. Now it seems that every other person you meet is on some sort of psychiatric medication. 

Addiction is a disease that is both physical and mental. I think (I hope) that one day addicts can openly admit that they are addicts and that they need help. To that end, I hope that help is then readily available. Addicts (sort of like the homeless) are the forgotten. There is not an accurate picture of how many people suffer from this horrible affliction and so there is not enough resources out there for people to be able to help themselves.

I know that it is not easy or fast to change the way the vast majority of society looks at any group that is perceived as a minority, but the issue is that there are far more addicts out there than people care to realize. If people can look past their prejudices and realize that recovered addicts are some of the smartest, strongest, compassionate people in the world, then we wouldn’t have to hide from our true selves and cause greater pyschological  damage to people that tend to have enough damage to overcome. Here’s to hope!