Tag Archives: recovery

The Hidden Strength and Resilience of Addicts

I have read that there is not a person walking this Earth stronger than a recovering addict. To say that I agree whole-heartedly is an understatement. I would actually even go one step further, and speak to the strength of most addicts.
The strength and will power that it takes to get off of drugs, especially ones that are both mentally and physically addictive, is a intense, brutally painful journey that most people will never fully appreciate. To be a heroin/opioid/methamphetamine addict is to live a life where ever day is an immense struggle. You wake up sick. Puking, diarrhea, running nose, back and leg spasms, hot and cold sweats, restlessly twitching, spitting flem non-stop, etc. You have to come up with the money to fuel your daily habit (which in my case was about a grand a day for myself and my hubby). Then when you obtain your funds, you have to cop, and this can be a job in and of itself. Obviously it is illegal to buy heroin. If the dope that you get is from a shop set up on a corner (which is how a lot of the best shit is) you have to get out of your car and run up into a hot ass alley wait in a line, get hit, hope that they have as many as you want by the time you get to the hitter, and run back to your car hoping and praying that a cop doesn’t drive by and see you (this risk is doubled if you are white and “don’t belong in the area”). Even if you have a dealer that you meet, you still have to watch out for cops. If you don’t have something to get (your dealer is on hold, what your were getting fell off, whatever) then you have the added struggle of trying to figure out what to buy.
It seems so simple to say, “If you have to go through all of this bullshit everyday, why do it.” The first, easiest, and simplest answer is that you are sick as fuck without it. Then people ask, “Well, don’t you only stay sick for three days? That’s not too bad.” Yes and no. The main, initial period of hellish withdrawls only lasts between three and four days. Of course, you have to keep in mind that you cannot sleep during these three days, so it is a LONG 72-96 hours. What people don’t realize that after the initial detox period, there is like another month or so of not being able to sleep, of your back aching. The cravings never fully go away.
It is so much easier to get high. The strength involved with an addict waking up everyday and not on,y deciding not to use, but to actually follow through with that decision is nothing short of a small miracle.
The stigma that society throws on us, the “Once an addict always an addict” mentality, would make a weak person snap and go back to using. I actually do agree that an addict is always an addict, it is actually proven that our brains never go back to the way it was before addiction took ahold of it. That’s not what I mean, however. I’m referring to the way my aunt clutches her purse to her side with a death grip at my grandmother’s funeral years after I last used. I’m talking about how my husband’s family automatically assumes that any sickness that either of us get is definitely withdrawls. You know because former addicts never get the stomach flu. The strength that it takes to quietly defend your character on a daily basis is monumentus.
Active users are much stronger than people give them credit for as well. Drugs can drastically change who you are. If you are able to maintain both a heroin/meth/coke/pill addiction and your morals, no one can ever doubt your inner strength. It is so easy to sell your soul to the devil, sell your body for far too little, and fuck over everyone who cares about you. To not take the easiest way out (whatever that may be at that time) is to take on and win against Satan himself.
My point is this, if you are a recovering addict, don’t ever let anyone take that from you. You have accomplished a feat of inner strength that could rival Hercules. If you are an addict who is still in active addiction, you have it in you. You are stronger than you probably even realize. Look how much you go through on a daily basis, and you are still here. Don’t ever let anyone take that from you.

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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.

Disabling The Crutch That is Addiction

“My name is Amy and I am a heroin addict.” This is what we start out any statement at an NA meeting. It took me years to be able to publicly admit that I am an addict. I hid this fact for years. I am incredibly proud that I am now able to say this to anyone. It took me a lot of growth. The one thing that we have to be careful of is letting our past as addicts define us. It can not be our be all and end all.

It can become a crutch if we let it. If we let ourselves believe that our addiction is all we are, than it can become all that we are. Perception is reality. As sick as sounds, sometimes we set ourselves up for failure. It is often unintentional and unconscious. We start doubting ourselves internally. We struggle with our addictions. Especially if, and about 95% of the time when, we relapse we inevitably feel like failures. Worthless failures. We start to think that we nothing but addicts who are destined to fail.

Once we convince ourselves that we will never recover, then we won’t. Plain and simple. The drugs warp our brains forever. We will be addicts for the rest of our lives. Phillip Seymore Hoffman is a prime example. He had been clean for over twenty years before his overdose death of few months ago. We love the drugs. Well, we have a love/hate relationship. We are co-dependent.

Secretly, we want to fail. We have to save us from ourselves. Sometimes, we use the fact that we are addicts forever as an excuse, a reason to relapse. When we go back to using, we can say, “Well, it is to be expected. I am just an addict anyway.”

It becomes a crutch. When you break your leg, you quit using a crutch once your leg is healed. Once we have been clean for an extended period of time, we have to kick the crutch of “I am a worthless addict,” away. We are RECOVERING addicts. The difference is monumental. It is life-changing. Right now, I am a recovering addict. I am fully aware that I will be a heroin addict my entire life. That being said, I am so much more.

I am a mother, a wife, a writer, a bartender, an artist, a kind person. I backslide on and off for about a decade, but I am back on track. I have dreams and goals, for the first time in a long time.

I have heard too many friends who are addicts lament on how they will never be anyone in life. That they are losers. Like I said previously, perception is reality. These are the same people I know who relapse the moment that they leave rehab or jail. And it saddens me. You can not grow if you insist on being stuck in stone. I want to metaphorically kick the crutch out from under them. They might fall to the ground, but when they get up, they will stand tall and on their own.

While, I am so very proud of myself that I am now able to admit to everyone that I am an addict and that I am no longer ashamed of my past. I am most proud that I am able to move on. I am now aware that I am not just an addict. None of us are. We are so very much more than that. Our addiction does not define us. We may have done awful, horrible things when we were actively addicts. But that was never our whole self. Addiction may have over shadowed the rest if personalities, but once we achieve sobriety, we can shine.

If you look at some of the wonderful things that were given to this world by addicts, it becomes very clear that addicts have a lot to offer society. We have been to hell and back. There is no one of the face of this Earth that is stronger than an addict who has kicked an drug habit. We can be compassionate. We are smart. We have street smarts. We are creative. We obtained a wealth of skills while we were using. We went to great lengths to get our drugs. If we use our powers for good, we can be unstoppable.

Yes, we are addicts. We are recovering addicts, but we are wonderful people. That is if we let ourselves achieve our fullest potential.

How Many Times Do We Deserve To Be Forgiven – To Forgive Others?

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It is estimated that the average addict relapses around nine times before they actually get clean. Before the idea of sobriety sinks in to our extremely thick skulls and stays there. During this vicious cycle of recovery and relapse how many friends have we pushed away? How many family members have we fucked over? And how many times have we been betrayed, hurt, lied to? How many times should we expect to be forgiven for our sins from our past lives?

Above is a diploma from my middle school D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) class. I don’t know if they still do this, but in 1995-1998, all students had to attend drug classes in school. They informed you about various drugs, their effects, addiction possibilities, etc. Being that I was a straight A student all through out school, I aced this class as well. I was going through a bunch of old paperwork over the weekend and found this. Ironic isn’t it? Now, I would be used as a horror story as to why you shouldn’t do drugs. “Meet Amy. She was a straight a student. Full scholarships to many of the best colleges in the country. She started using heroin and cocaine and threw her life away. She has multiple arrests and achieved no where close to her potential.” But back then, in middle school, I was the absolute last person that anyone would have suspected would fall under the firm, death grip of heroin.

The first time an addict finally decides, or more often then not, is convinced to enter into rehab, there is a great deal of hope and optimism amount the addicts friends and family. They will get clean, they will be cured. We will have our friend back. When you come home from the in-patient rehab, or complete the out-patient rehab, all transgressions are forgiven. Trust is restored. It is assumed that we are “cured”, back to normal. God is good.

Then a very large percent of time, we (the addict) relapses. Unfortunately, the friend/family of the addict takes this as a slap in the face. Like we are doing this to fuck them over. They either didn’t research that the idea of recovery almost never sticks the first go round, or they assume that their family member will be different. One reason , in my humble opinion, that most people fail to stay sober after the first time of going through rehab, is that an addict has to want to get clean.  Many times an addict enters rehab for the first time to pacify their loves ones. This is nothing more than a set up for failure. Merely going through the motions of NA, rehab, whatever is not enough. You have to really work it. Want it. It sort of like looking at a book, but not really reading it. The information is not going to sink in.

When we relapse the lies start up agin ten fold. We are now trying to hide the fact that we failed. We relapsed. We were unable to achieve the lasting sobriety that our loved ones were expecting us to and we are undoubtedly ashamed. Most of the people that we hurt during our first bout of drug use was probably willing to forgive us this time, but each time that we try and fail to surrender to God, we loose more and more people that we care about.

Eventually, inevitably, it comes out that we are using again. We may try to deny it continually, but an arrest happens, or an overdose, or a job loss. Something happens. We fuck up somehow. Usually a good sign is that we never have money or if we have money, we do not have as much as we should.

The people who care about us take the news of our relapse as a personal a front. Why have we done this. We just completed a program. We apologize, but that trust is much harder to gain back each additional time.

More than likely we are encouraged to get back in to treatment ASAP. We are just a little slow, stubborn, they think. We are not (yet) a total failure. If, and most likely when, this go round doesn’t work either, everyone starts to wonder what the fuck is wrong with us? Why don’t we just stop? Can’t we see the pain we are causing? Don’t we care about all of the friends that we are loosing? Most importantly, why are we so fucking selfish? Do we really not care about anybody else?

And I get it. I really do. Someone who doesn’t have this disease, who doesn’t struggle daily with addiction, can not understand. It is heart-breakingly frustrating to watch someone that you love and care about so much kill themselves slowly.

When my husband was serving time in Montgomery County, Maryland, he qualified to serve his time at PRC (Pre Release Center). This actually tries to rehabilitate prisoners. It sets them up with jobs, helps them get their GEDs if they need it, has them go to twice weekly NA or AA meetings. But one rather unique thing it does I takes the inmate’s sponsor (loved one they of their choosing) attend classes before the inmate can earn any at home visits. Since I myself am an addict and have done time, I already knew almost all of the information presented, but it is a fantastic idea. Inmates with little to no family suppose stand a much, much higher chance of becoming a repeat offender. Not everyone in jail  struggles with addiction, but since the majority do, the classes teach the sponsors about their loved ones addictions.

One aspect of addiction that people need to understand, is that the drugs alter the addicts brain. Forever. Our synapses fire differently. We have a shortage of endorphins for the rest of lives. We don’t understand at first, that we are addicted for life. While the first time, it may have taken us months of daily use before we developed a habit, each additional time it only takes two to four  consecutive uses to re-developed said habit. Our habit also picks up where it left off, with terrifying speed. I feel like our families, or friends, sort of feel like we make a huge effort to relapse. Like we use daily for a month before we get dope sick again. I don’t think that have any idea how fast it really happens.

Of course, we lie and betray every subsequent time we start to use again. It is very, very difficult for someone without this awful disease to understand how truly awful we feel when we lie to the people that we love. When in my active addiction, I would, on a rare occasion, ask my mother for money. She would berate me talking about how she was nothing but a bank to me. How I loved getting money from her. The actuality was that I only hit her up for money as an absolute LAST resort. I would have rather done almost anything. It made me feels so worthless, so low. My husband and I were able to come up with almost a thousand dollars a day, so asking her was usually an emergency. Actually, very rarely did the money that she gave me go to drugs. It usually went towards court fees, rental car, or bills one way or another. I had to be very sick to ask her for gate money. Losing the trust of my mother was one of the most terrible, awful side effects of being a heroin addict. Gaining back her trust, her forgiveness is probably the single most important thing to me in my recovery. It something that I work towards daily.

Once we are sober, we want people to hand back of their trust, the keys to their heart instantly. It is not that easy, unfortunately. Once someone betrays you over and over, it seems slightly insane to forgive them. I think the only reason that we are able to be forgiven at all is that people some-what believe that the drugs took over our brains, making us do things that we otherwise never would have done.

As far as karma goes (assuming that you believe that you believe in this sort of thing) we can not expect to be forgiven (and forgiven repeatedly at that) if we refuse to forgive others. We understand relapse. We understand the insanity of addiction. It is important to forgive while still being cautious of trusting too much. We can forgive people while still keeping people at arms length. We have to understand others need to do the same with us. We have to accept that through our actions, whether as a part of a drug induced haze or not, that there is inevitably many people that we have lost forever.

Especially with those who do not understand the disease of addiction, forgiveness may be something that is impossible to achieve. Some people are not the forgiving type. I have many friends and family members that I have done nothing to, except be n addict, that I have lost forever. I have people that have committed one minor transgression that have refused to offer their forgiveness to me after many, repeated heart-felt apologies. This is something that I am forced to come to peace with. There is a Buddhist quote that goes, “Holding on to anger is like trying to throw a torch with your bare hands. You will inevitably get burned.” I take great comfort in this and have stopped dwelling on people’s whose forgiveness I will probably never receive. If they choose to hold on to hate and anger towards me, there is nothing more that I can do to remedy the situation. I have forgiven people. If they choose to let anger eat them alive, so be it.

We can only concern ourselves with those who are willing to let us back into their lives, into their hearts. This does not just go for addicts, but for everyone. It is important to apologize to someone whom you have wronged, but if forgiveness is something that they are refusing to give, fuck it. I know from personal experience that it will eat you up inside. It is not worth it. It is far better to take that energy and focus it towards your recovery, to those who found it deep within their souls to give us trust again, even if just a little.

Never Again, No More

You burn inside of me

Pulsating deep, deep within

What makes me feel great

Makes me feel alive

Kills me slowly

And maybe, one day, it will kill me instantly

I am drowning in the water

You bubble up to the surface

To offer a life line

I draw you up

I push you in

And you become my master

You tie me down

You want my soul

You will not stop until I’m dead

Pull at me with your death tight grip

As I break away, you try to grab me

Hold me back

I will never forget you

Or the hold that you had on me

Always, forever

I am your slave no more

You have tricked me before

I came back

I thought that you were different

But there I was

Back in bondage

 But never again

You will control me NO MORE

Confused Thinking and Conflicting Emotions

I have a book that is “Daily Advice From the Heart”. It is one of those books that has daily inspirations. This one is quotes from the Dalai Lama. Today the message was, “If we really want to make our lives meaningful and happy, we should begin by thinking sanely. We should cultivate the human qualities we all possess but which we bury under a heap of confused thinking and conflicting emotions.”

This could have been written about me. I am an over thinker to the extreme. Crippling self doubt is probably my second biggest flaw. Under, over-thinking everything. Looking critically at myself, I must say that part of the appeal of drugs for me was probabably that it gave me a way to shut up the voice in my head. Notice that I said voice, singular. I don’t have multiple voices in my head in the stereotypical, “The voices in my head made me do it” way. The voice is just mine, but it doesn’t shut up. It keeps me up at night.

I have been diagnosed with ADD (a long with a host of other things). This again goes back to the overly critical voice in my head. She is rambling about so much shit, changing directions at hyper-speed that it is incredably difficult to stop and focus on something. School, tv, reading, anything. But it is more than just a general lack of attention or razor fine focus. It is that my mind is a warp speed tornado, thoughts swirling around as a massive conglomerate of ideas that I somehow have to file into tidy little folders.

The thoughts that are whirling around at a truly dizzying speed are more than just the general conviction that I am not good enough. Oh no. That would be too easy. No, no. With me it is that I am not pretty enough. I am too smart to be a desirable woman. I am smart yet have accomplished far too infinitesimal. It is that I am so unlikable. I want friends, but I push everyone away. I am a cold bitch, yet I care far too much about far too many things. I am too scared to put my self out there and I hate myself for not achieving what I should have. I wish I was a super mom and I am not.

On top of all of this, I am a dichotomy of so many opposites. I am a feminist who can count the number of people that I have slept with on my fingers (and not use them all up), but I am an absolute freak in bed. Full on “50 Shades of Grey”. I am hardened all the way to my core, but I care about all of societies ills. I am a smart, strong women, but I am incredibly insecure and weak.

To have a meaningful happy life we must think sanely, huh? I wish. I am trying. Dalai Lama is correct. Who knows what I could, what any of us could, accomplish if I could dig my potential out from all of my self doubt. I am now at least able to tell the world, “I am an addict. I am clean, but I will always be a heroin/cocaine addict. If you can’t handle it, Fuck you!”. It is not just the blog. I used to wear long selves all the time to cover up the scars on my arms. Track marks, scars from horrible infections that came from missing shots of heroin. I am now able to look at them as battle scars, not marks of shame.

I am trying to follow many Buddhist teachings as a part of my recovery. I find the notions of helping others, of the recognition that holding on to anger only serves to harm us incredibly insightful. I think a lot of addicts constantly berate and criticize themselves. This can only serve to hold us back. Sometimes we deep down do this on purpose so that we have an excuse to use again. We are not terrible, awful people. We have a disease, like any other disease. A disease that may have made us do things that we regret, but we can’t go on hating ourselves forever for these actions. We will repeat these actions over and over if we don’t get over ourselves.

It is not sane thinking to expect that we should be perfect, and then beat ourselves up when we are not. What the Dalai Lama is getting at is that merely accepting who we are is the biggest step towards ultimate happiness. I am working on it and so can you.

 

Lies We Tell, Lies We Accept

Recently, I was talking to an old friend. Someone whom with I have been friends since high school. This friend just also happened to be one of the people that I got high with for years as well. Since I have been clean, I don’t see him too much. Actually, the last time I saw this friend, he ripped me off for money. He needed money to get well and had a grocery store gift card. Since I have two kids, buying a discounted card for food will always come in handy. My husband and I met him and of course there was a story. “You can’t bullshit a bullshitter.” I gave him the benefit of the doubt as I have been close with him for fifteen years. He would drop the card off later and I would give him the rest of the money. Why would he fuck me for thirty dollars?

Well, he did. We as addicts, are able to become expert liars. We obtain such a fluency at deceiving that we are able to do it with out even thinking. They say that you are truly fluent in another language when you are able to actually think in that language. Us addicts, when we are using, we are able to think in lies. The come out with such fluidity that little to no thought is needed.

While I was using, I learned how to con everyone. You learn to play a role, to deceive. I became the quiet, rich girl when I was boosting to throw off suspicion. I was clean, when I was with my family. I never had a criminal record when I was at work. I easily morphed into who I needed to be in that current situation.

We lie to our families, our friends, our dealers, other addicts. The worst lies that we tell are to ourselves. Can we ever forgive ourselves for the lies that we tell, the pain that we cause? Can we forgive those who are close to us for the lies that have told to us?

While we hurt the people close to us, we hurt ourselves more. Most couples who use together are unable to continue a worthwhile relationship once they both get sober. Part of this is because they will often trigger each other to relapse. Part of this is because without the drugs, a good deal of the couple have little to nothing in common. Perhaps the largest issue is getting past all the lies and betrayals that the two have done to one another. I have seen couples do horrible things to each other. Boyfriends whoring out their girlfriends. Girls fucking every dealer that will let them. Both parties cheating on one another. It is hard enough to deal with this shit when ripped out of your mind, but sober it is usually too tough to bear.

At some point the lies catch up. Just because you don’t call someone out every time you are aware of the lies that are told to you doesn’t mean that you aren’t aware. I had a good feeling that my friend was lying about the gift cards, I was just hoping against hope that he wasn’t. A may be a lot if things, naive is not one of them.

It is interesting to note, however that the more adept we become at telling and discerning lies, the more we believe our own lies. Every dope head goes on and on, when they are high of course, about how we are going to get clean, tomorrow. Always tomorrow. We are going to do up all of these drugs and then we will get clean. Of course when we wake dope sick the next morning all of that changes. The need for drugs, the need to get well, to just not be sick takes over.

In order to really recover, to achieve lasting sobriety, is to stop lying to ourselves. We use these lies as an excuse to backslide. Before we even relapse, as soon as we start getting clean, we come up with reasons or excuses as to why we will fail. That way when we start using again, we are not heartbroken. How are we ever to succeed if we set ourselves up to fail? The answer is that we can’t.

We have to forgive ourselves for our lies. And stop the lies in order to achieve our ultimate goals of having and maintaining a healthy, substance free existence. In an earlier post I wrote about the need to let go. We have to forgive ourselves for the lies we have told, the sins we have committed. It is easy to want to throw ourselves in a self imposed purgatory, but for how long will this last? The refusal to let go of the past, the refusal to forgive ourselves ends up sending us back into a world of drug use.

That being said though, while it is important to forgive people who lie, do we ever forget? Can we ever trust someone who has repeatedly lied to us? Can we ever expect or people to forgive us for our past transgressions? If we can not or will not trust again, then should we feel worthy or deserving of peoples trust? I do not know, but I hope that the karmic retribution of forgiving ourselves and others transcends into making us, as recovering addicts, worthy of forgiveness. But first we must stop lying. Weather we are using or we are clean, we can not continually lie to,everyone around us (including the lies we tell ourselves) if we expect to ever get well.

Irrevocably Broken

Today is my one day of the week that I go to my methadone clinic to receive my take homes for the week. (Actually I should only be going once a month, but my insurance will only cover six take homes at a time.) On the way home, as I drove down the dark highway, a thick coating of fog blanketing the road, I started crying. Uncontrollably and inconsolably.

There is really no good reason for me to be so upset, which of course is all the more upsetting. I am “doing good”. I am clean going on two years. We finally were able to get a new car that we didn’t pay cash for. The monthly payments should help improve our credit (along with the cell phone, car insurance, and credit cards). My husband has a good job. A union job that has benefits. Best of all, I am earning back the respect of my mother again. Slowly, but it is happening. So why am I so fucking sad?

One reason I feel like the weight of the world is on my shoulders, is that before I started to get high, is that I was not just on the right track, I was ahead of schedule. I graduated from high school with a 4.5 tGPA. I had an almost full scholarship to the University of Maryland College a park as an honor student. My life was planned out. I was on a path for success. Then I started getting high.

Years of addiction, clean time, and relapse followed. Multiple arrests and convictions and probations ensued. Saying that I veered off of my path is an understatement. Granted, I am now back on the trail, and moving forward, but I wonder, did I travel so far backwards that I will never catch up to where I could be, or should be?

I look at the Facebook profiles for my high school friends and become painfully aware of how far ahead of me they all are. This is part of the reason that I didn’t go to my high school reunion. I am humiliated when I see the shocked looks on everyone’s face. I was the girl who went to the straight A breakfast every grading quarter. The girl who tutored other students in my classes. The girl who got into NYU, but went to UMCP for a boy of all things. And yet, I am the girl who let almost her whole graduating class surpass her. It brings up the inevitable, “But you are so smart? What happened?”

I want to go back to school. I have almost two years worth of credits. Some of those were classes that are only useful to a primary education degree, and are thus useless to me. One day, after I had made a comment on Facebook about how I should have become an English teacher like I was planning to because people’s poor grammar drives me crazy, an old friend of mine commented that it isn’t too late. I could still become an English teacher, she told me. Only, it is too late for that. With my criminal record, I could never be a teacher. So I must choose another carrier path. I have stated in previous blogs that I want to be a makeup artist. Other interests are being a social worker, or more recently a writer.

Choosing a career that requires me to go back to school presents a lot of little battles that I have to psych myself up for. One issue is that if you have ANY drug convictions, be they felonies or misdemeanors, you are inevitable of any sort of government financial aid. To me, this has to be one the absolute dumbest, hypocritical, cruel laws or rules in existence. Here everyone wants to preach about how drug addicts and/or criminals need to stop going down their paths of sin and rehabilitate themselves, but you want to offer them zero financial assistance. It makes no sense. Most drug addicts, both current and recovering, have horrible credit and probably very little money. We all fucked all that shit up a long time ago. As a society, they tell us to turn our lives around, but we are not offered the same aid as everyone else? Yeah, that’s fair.

When I last took many college classes, I was nineteen years old. I taught preschool full time (40 hours a week) and took a full course load at the community college. This was following a year at the University of Maryland College Park, where I lived in the dorms. I used drugs occasionally, but was far from having a habit. Now, ten years, two kids, and seven convictions later, going back to school is going to be very different. I am scared. Actually, I am scared to admit that I am scared, lol. School has always come easy for me. Too easy, really. With an above genius level IQ, I was used to just getting A’s with no real work. I went to college with zero study skills, because I had never needed them. I also have ADD. Once I got to college and there was 250 – 300 people to a class and no one taking attendance, I found it impossible to force myself to go to class. I could not sit through a two hour lecture class and I was used to passing with out work anyway. Not just passing, excelling. If I had a lot of trouble going to class back then, I know that with two kids and a million responsibilities, it will be even harder. Online classes are even worse for me. I will keep putting them off because I don’t HAVE to go to a physical building and my kids will make it almost impossible to do them anyway. I never had to write papers with any real distractions (just the ones inside of my mind). Now I have kids, dogs, a husband, and real life responsibilities to clutter my mind, my time. I am almost afraid to even try because I am terrified to fail.

I am afraid that I went in reverse for so long, that catching up is an impossibility. I know that I face an incredibly steep, uphill battle. The percentages of people who are able to successfully recover from heroin is slim, I am all too aware of this. I am not delusional, I know that I will never be “cured”. Not of my addictions, and not of my depression/anxiety/PTSD/ADD.  The best that I can hope for with diseases such as these, are to be in remission for the rest of my life. And it fucking terrifies me. The fact that all of these demons are brewing just under the lid, waiting to boil over is a paralyzingly real possibility. Leaving the clinic, I was hit the extremely copious feeling that this could be all for nothing.

Recovering from addiction, and depression for that matter, is exhausting. Sometimes I worry that I can not do this forever. It is so much work. I get overwhelmed which in turn pushes me down the long, vacuum powered black hole that is my depression. When I start to get depressed, overwhelmed and frustrated, I am hit with rip tide of doom. Yes, I am aware of how corny and melodramatic this sounds, but it is true, I am pulled under by forceful waves of doom. All of the sudden, it will just hit me like a wrecking ball hitting a brick wall. I will instantly feel that my life as I know it is over. That nothing good is yet to come. Just blackness and stress and tears.

Many times I feel like I am irrevocably broken. There is a strong possibility that I can not be fixed. With any luck, I may be able to keep my diseases in remission, keep them in check, but there is not a super glue out there strong enough to glue me back together. My flaws and past make me who I am, and that’s cool. I am proud that I came through the battlefield alive, but you better believe that I am far from unscathed. I pray that with time, my wounds will start to close, my scars will start to fade. I look to a path of enlightenment and inner peace. It is more than likely impossible to jump back on to the road that I was previously set to drive down and speed up enough to make it to the mile marker that I would have been at if I had not detoured. I suppose that I need to get on a new highway. Possibly even one that is not even done being built. Maybe I have to build it as I go. I just pray for the strength to continue to go forward. For as long as I don’t go backwards, maybe inching ahead, no matter how slowly, is alright. Maybe in life success is really defined as not being beaten down and halted by the hurdles and obstacles that life throws at you.

Insanity

Many people define insanity as the repeating of the same actions over and over with the exception of a different result.

By that definition, relapsing, and addiction itself, is insane. Why do we as addicts seem to think that “this time will be different”? We go through literal hell in order to get clean, yet we are so quick to foforget about this. Our disease allows us to feel that we are “cured”. An addict is never cured. You are either an active or a recovering addict.

When I first started using heroin, it took quite awhile to become physically addicted. After my first arrest, which was for shoplifting items that I then sold and used the money for drugs, my mother wanted me to go to an outpatient rehab. (Ironically, this was the facility that a couple of years later informed me that I was pregnant.) Me, my husband (who was just a friend then) and my little sister were all arrested. I was19, my ssister was 16. We both did the adolescent program at the rehab. During the intake interview, I was clear about my disdain for the idea of me attending such groups. It was a waste of my time, I explained to the man who did my intake. “I don’t have a habit,” I told him. “I can get high for a week or a day, then stop for a week or so.” “And you think that you can keep this pattern up with out ever catching a habit?” He asked me incredulously. I responded that I knew that I could. “Good luck with that,” he huffed.

Of course, this man who I so stupidly blew off, was right. I obtained a violent habit. It didn’t help that the dope that I was doing was fentanyl based. Quicker than I realized what had happened, I was dry heaving every morning, throwing up yellow stomach lining. I was done for.

Eventually, two years, nine changes, and four warrants later, I was arrested three days before Christmas. One of the four warrants was a no bail warrant and I could have a bail review until the judge who had set the no bail could see me, and he was on a two week Christmas vacation. Three weeks later, I had my bail review. He closed the case, releasing me with time served. I then had to get picked up by another county where two of my warrants were. The fourth warrant got quashed while I was locked up, so once I bailed out, I was home.

I had went through the ills in jail, on lock up, in a cell 23 hours a day. Being ill us awful regardless, but in jail is exceptionally cruel. Thin ass, worn through mattress, only one shower a day, no advil, tums, NOTHING. All you want to do is sleep, and you cannot do that because you are kicking heroin.

While in the first detention center, I found out that one of my friends was murdered because he was trying to tell these coke dealers that it was not us who had stolen his stash. It was a lie, a rumor that a guy who was mad at my sister’s boyfriend made up. The dealer had pointed a revolver at my husband’s head at point blank range and pulled the trigger. It jamed. TWICE. Tge dealer pistol whipped my sister as my husband pulled off. Obviously the dealer was pissed that he had failed. (I believe that my father acted as a guardian angel and saved everyone in the car.) My friend was killed because we weren’t. Because he felt that someone had to pay for his stash getting stolen. Didn’t matter who it was. Didn’t matter that WE didn’t even anything to do with it.

Sitting in jail for a few weeks gave me some time to reflect on my drug use. I didn’t want to go through this kind of hell again. I was done.

I came home and stayed clean. For three years I stayed clean. I got a job as a waitress. Eventually I was a certified trainer. Then I was the lead server. I became a lead bartender also. I gave birth to my second child. Life was great.

The entire time that I was clean, there were people who lived in the house with my family that were getting high. It didn’t bother me. I could handle it. I couldn’t handle my husband getting high.

He had surgery on his knee. He was given prescription for Percocet. After a few months, the doctor cut off the script. He was still in pain, and we were living with people who were getting high, so he started to get shit off of them. I could only see him high in front of me but for so long. He tried to hide it from me, but I knew. Soon I started using too.

I won’t get addicted this time. I know better. We didn’t do it every day. But a couple of times a week quickly progressed to daily.

Our addiction is tricky. We can be clean for years, but once we start up again, it very quickly goes right back to where we left off. We trick ourselves in to believing that we are cured, but the drugs have altered our brains forever. Your synapses have changed, and theydon’t go back to that of ssomeone who has never been a drug addict.

This is why you see people who have been clean for fifteen years or so and get high a few times and loose everything that they worked so hard for. Everything that they accomplished during their clean time, is gone.

It takes an addict an average of about nine times to actually achieve sobriety. We are insane. We keep thinking that this time we will control the drugs, not the other way around.  But we are not, and never will be casual users. The drugs have altered our brains, our souls. No matter how much we lie to ouselves, or others, the drugs have a grip on us.

This is why one of the most dangerous things in an addict’s recovery is complacency. The idea that we can be cured is bullshit. I now know that we will never NOT be an addict. I have been in recovery for two years, and I hope to be for the rest of my life. I am no longer insane.

Boredom is the Most Dangerous Thing to an Addict

When one gets clean off of drugs, there are many changes in one’s life. You make a major transition in your life. All of the sudden you have to cease speaking to everyone who you were getting high with, which more than likely is all of your current friends. You have probably alienated and/or fucked over all of your non-addict friends to the point where they don’t want to speak to you anymore.

The sudden lack of companionship has never been much of an issue for me in so far as it being a threat to my sobriety. The biggest hurdle of my sobriety is boredom. Actually, the very first time I went to a three day detox and game home, I literally relapsed right away because I didn’t know what to do with all of my time.

For me, getting high was an all day activity. One full of adventure and unknown surprises. Yeah, everyday I was faced with the possibility of incarceration multiple times a day, but in some sort of sick way, that in as of itself was exciting. It wasn’t just getting high and going about my daily business. It was so much moreThe day usually started one of two ways: either we had money or we didn’t. We almost never had dope. If we had money, we drove in town, copped our gate shot and got on. If we did not have loot, we went to the person that we sold our stolen goods to an got an advanced on the money that we would have been getting from him later that night.  Then we would cop.

One of the (many) problems with having a $1100 a day habit is that we were always very picky about our dope. While there may be dope or coke on every corner in Baltimore, most of it wasn’t good enough for us. The shit we wanted was usually hot and had 30 to 75 people waiting. All of the addicts would have to wait for the dealers to hit. You had to stay close enough to hear when they announced that whatever dope it was was currently hitting in the hole and hide from the cops. Sometimes the cops notice a bunch a heads roaming around and shut the block down. Then you have to go somewhere else. Also, very rarely was there enough dope for everyone. If you were not at the front of the line, there was a good chance that you were going to have to go back to your car, wait for another pack, and run back in the alley. This wait could be five minutes. It could be an hour or longer.

Every once in a while we would have a dealer with bomb ass dope that we would see a few times a day and then we just had to wait for him. This is also helpful because if we really couldn’t come up with money, any smart dealer who has customer like us spending over a thousand dollars a day will have no problem fronting us a half gram ($60) if we were ill.

After we copped, we drove to a particular Howard Johnson to get on in the parking lot. Funny side story: one time my husband and I were getting on in an abandoned row house with this homeless guy. We did two pills each and decided to do the other five pills we had. The homeless guy (who probably spends thirty dollars on dope a day) was telling us to save it. We each day a couple hundred in our pockets and were getting more money so we decided to do the rest of the drugs. Good thing to because as we were walking out of the row house two cops were driving by. One was this red-headed female cop who hated me because she thought that I was a rich county girl because I had a Chanel bag. She had pulled us over about three previous times. So anyway, of course they pull us over and hem us up. In the city, they will not lock you up for needles, cookers, ties etc. just drugs. They let us go, but as we were getting our shit and getting into my car, the male cop said, “Why don’t you just get high at the KFC at the Westside Shopping Center like everyone else?” Funnily enough we usually did get high at the KFC.

But the KFC was years ago, the Howard Johnson was the new getting on spot. We would park were we could see every car coming in or out and in a spot out of the camera view. Like I said, once the drugs are gone, you are golden because they are not going to arrest you of the needles and what not. In the city that is. Once you cross over into the county, they will definitely lock you up for needles and cookers etc.

Not that we were well, it was time to make some money. We would have about a 45 – 90 minute drive to get out to stores that were worth hitting. You would have to keep track of where you had been recently. One reason is because once you wipe out a store of whatever  it is you are stealing it takes a little while before they restock it. Secondly, you don’t want employees of any particular store to see you in there too much and hardly ever buying anything. Lastly, if you don’t rotate the stores, counties, states, they start to put security in the store waiting to nail your ass.

During the day we would go to one or a few stores, how ever much it took to get two to three hundred dollars. Then it was back in town, cashing, copping and going home. Since we weren’t ill at this point, we would go home to get high. I have terrible veins, it can take hours for me to find a vein and get high. Obviously, I was not a big fan of getting high in the car, half the time I would end up blowing (missing) it if I was not somewhere that allowed me the luxury to take my time.

We would relax a little, maybe nap, eat, watch TV, whatever. Then it was night time when we made our real money. We would go out about three nights a week and make about a thousand or so.

As you can see, almost all of my time was occupied with the getting high lifestyle. Getting clean was not just taking the drugs out of my life. It was taking away my very existence. Once I stopped getting high, I was just sitting home doing nothing. I wasn’t seeing anyone who I was used to hanging out with. People we got high with, went boosting with, bought drugs with and from. People whose houses we went to to get high at. People who we would run into at the Edmonson Village Center or the Westside Shopping Center or wherever else.

Not only that, but the city is always full of life. People everywhere, always something happening. But being clean, especially when I was first getting clean, meant that I needed to stay out of the city that I loved so much all together.

So now I am sitting there, newly clean, with nothing to do and no one to talk to. It’s just you and your daemons. Not only are you changing your entire lifestyle, but you also are faced with the memories of everything rotten and shitty that you have done in your active addiction.

This go round was easier for a couple of reasons. One is that I have gotten and stayed clean before. Two, since I have kids now, I was only going out boosting with my husband if we had a baby sitter. I had gotten a lot more used to staying at home with the kids at night. During the day, when they were at school, I would go in town and out to the stores.

Now, I have learned to spend my days just being a mother. I have had to learn to put to sleep the tiger that roars inside of me. The tiger, the devil in me, hates sitting still. It’s not me.

We have to learn to sit still and most importantly sit with ourselves. To really sit and look at ourselves. When you spend all of your time finding, getting, and doing drugs and things to get money for them, you have to learn new hobbies. Me, I have writing and makeup. My husband has work, video games and home improvement. Now that we have both been clean for a couple of years it is much easier to be used to staying home all day. When I start to get restless and bored, I stop and thank God that I am not sick when I wake up, that I never break the law. I thank God that I have my kids. My husband and I both made it through this alive.

I am here to tell you, sit still. It gets better. The boredom will subside. The pain will be alleviated. I know you are bored, but being bored and clean is better than being high and having excitement in your life.