Monthly Archives: January 2016

Safety

safety

 

As an addict, no matter what your drug of choice is, no matter whether you are using or not, one of our commonalities is that we generally crave safety. We crave it as much, really, as we crave whatever we are putting in our bodies, or whatever fucked up thing we are doing to change the way we feel. Because any addict can tell you that, eventually, you don’t really get high anymore. Nope, that rush from the beginning flees quickly. What we really want is safety. Distance from our feelings, some space from our self loathing, to shut up the voice inside of us that will not let us be- the one that tells us how stupid, and useless, and lacking we are. We just want some relief from whatever it is that haunts us, and the addict knows the fastest way to get there. Of course, this is WAY oversimplifying it, but in essence, this is the truth- you don’t want to hear about brain chemistry, genetics, and compulsive disorders, anyway, I bet. And if you do, you should probably talk to someone else, as I am just a drug addict with some experience, not a doctor.

Now, I know what I have said- that addicts are seeking safety- sounds completely the opposite of what an addicts life looks like. I realize that. But think about this for a second…all the stories of the way addicts lie, the way they manipulate everything in their environment. Yeah, that is terrible. And by the way, it’s exhausting, too. But what is that really, more than an attempt to create a world where we have some semblance of control over our surroundings? Sure, it is misguided and horrible, but when you are so helpless in every other way, the only thing you can do, out of desperation, is to try to create some type of order out of the chaos. To know what to expect. To have some feeling of safety, we manipulate. You have to remember, an addict in the trenches of their disease is desperate, and desperate people on drugs do not have the ability to see how insane their actions and choices are. They literally are not in their right minds. They just want to survive.

Now, here’s the thing: It doesn’t start off like this. No one starts off in this desperate state. I always, when thinking of my own story, refer to my disease starting up at the age of 19, but that isn’t even true. The truth is, I discovered my drug of choice at the age of 19, but I started putting drugs in my body long before that- sure, it was just smoking weed and drinking, but I was 13. I had low self esteem, I had a weird life, and I just wanted to fit in. The best idea I could come up with, having a limited set of options, was to get high. And it worked for me. I found no shortage of kids just like myself with whom to surround myself, and I created a persona out of all of that, so that I could fit in somewhere. I had no idea what kind of game I was playing. How could I have? And not everyone was destined to wind up like me, either. That’s the funny thing about it- you are rolling the dice, and you don’t even know it. Many of my friends were able to put it down and walk away. But a lot of them- a lot- were not.

Because I was so young when I started down this path, I had no experience with the way “normal” people lived. I didn’t understand how controlling I was, whether I was clean or not, or how emotionally volatile I was. I had no idea that my behavior was a major issue, preventing me from being happy, either on or off of drugs. I can tell you this, though- the minute I realized that my drug use had become nothing more than a symptom of a far bigger problem, my life changed. It took me a really long time to get there. A really long time. I went through treatment, well into adulthood, twice, and had years clean (after which I relapsed again and again) before I got it. On drugs, my behavior was terrible. Off drugs, my behavior was terrible, and it lead me back to drugs, to make me care less about my terrible behavior. I had to come to this understanding on my own. I just wasn’t hearing it from anyone, or any place else. I am not saying it wasn’t taught to me, that no one ever mentioned it. I just wasn’t able to hear it.

This is still a struggle for me. Even knowing what I now believe to be true- that my own behavior can make or break me- I struggle to break the old habits, to find new ways to deal with my feelings, ways that are not so damaging to me, or to others. I spent a lot of years being one person, so it makes sense that being someone else is hard. But I know it is vital that I do. I don’t want to use drugs anymore, but I still behave like an addict sometimes, whether I show it or not. That person is sitting inside of me, commenting on far too many things. I am, and will always be, a work in progress.

Addicts are also very contrary people. We know what we want, and we do the opposite. Our intentions don’t always match our actions. We want to do right, but often find ourselves doing wrong. We have huge egos, and low self esteem. We say one thing and do another. We are often very smart, and live stupidly. We dream of a safe, happy life, and do everything in our power to make sure we never get there. It makes no sense to you, and it makes no sense to the addict who is living it. That is the terrible truth.

Addicts, whether we are clean or not, want what every breathing person wants. To be safe. But our fight is a little different. We carry our biggest obstacle with us everywhere that we go. The face that looks back at us in the mirror is often our greatest enemy. The battle we fight is with ourselves, over and over and over.

You may wonder why I come back to this subject again and again, why I identify so strongly with this part of me. And my answer is- because this is still the biggest part of me. Even though I am clean, the fight is the same. The person I am fighting, and the thing I fight against, and all of the little flare ups I have, they all come from the addict in me. I have a voice, and I want to explain it to the world, so that maybe you can understand an addict in your life, or yourself, a little better. But I am no longer afraid, and I am not sad, and I don’t feel sorry for myself. I feel glad that I have named my enemy, and, even if it is a life long fight…at least I have the tools I need to do my work against it.

And that makes me feel a little safer. I sleep better, knowing that.

 

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Another Epiphany

realization

You know what the problem with being a grown up is? It’s fucking boring. I mean, you work your ass off to get to a position in life where you aren’t constantly eaten up with the worry about surviving, you settle into a safe little routine, and little do you know…you just auctioned off a piece of your soul to the lowest bidder. Eh. Or that is how it feels, sometimes, anyway.

I have not lived a boring, mundane existence- not by a long shot. Whatever else you can say about being a drug addict, your life is never boring. It’s chock fucking full of excitement- just not exactly the kind of excitement you ought to be looking for. Unless paranoia and the ever present possibility of being jailed on felony charges rings your bell. It never really did much for me- not that it ever slowed me down, either. The best part of being in that mess, though, was getting out of it. When you are that far down, it’s super easy to feel like you have accomplished a lot, just by doing normal stuff, like paying a bill, or getting a job. Or vice versa.

I upped the ante a little when I found myself with this big old career that pays a lot of money- boy, did I think I had shown the world. And, I suppose, in a way I had. I know lots of people, addicts and not addicts, who would trade spots with me in a heart beat. I do have a pretty decent life. But you know what I miss? I miss the thrill of the unknown. I miss the excitement of not knowing what opportunity might be around the next corner, what adventure might be on the next horizon. I miss flying by the seat of my pants.

But it just struck me- you know, I can’t sit around and wait for adventure to fall into my lap. I don’t know where I got the idea that I was supposed to. It came to me that maybe I have been living passively all this time, just waiting for stuff to happen to me, when I could be out there, actively creating whatever type of life I wanted to have. Well. That is quite an eye opening thought. I’m not sure if I am excited, upset, or a little of both. I mean, I’m 40. I could have used this insight a little sooner. But then again, maybe I wasn’t ready for it then. And God knows, I’m in a better position than I have ever been before to go out and grab the world by the balls.

Perhaps it is time to start constructing my reality in a completely different way, huh? I’m going to think about this a little more, and let you know what I come up with.

Maui Dreams…

Napili Bay

 

For the past week, almost every night, I have been dreaming about being in Maui. I went, for the first time, back in November. The funny part is, it wasn’t even my big dream to go there- it was something my daughter wanted to do, and I just wanted to make it happen for her. I thought it would be cool, for her 18th birthday, to take her on her dream trip. I had never jumped on the Hawaii band wagon, probably because it was so crowded- the same reason it took me so long to read Harry Potter. I was so sick of hearing how great it was from everyone else that it killed my desire. Also, I am kind of a contrary person. I’m not bragging. This character defect of mine makes life mighty difficult sometimes.

Anyway, so Hawaii wasn’t about me. It was about Aisley, and making her happy, and getting to reconnect with her. It also didn’t suck to be able to talk about my upcoming trip, as I felt really grown up about taking an actual vacation. “Oh my God!” everyone sighed as we talked about it, “I am so jealous!” Or “Just wait until you get there…the air…it’s perfect…it’s life changing” and on & on. I was like, “yeah, I’ll bet.” and tried not to roll my eyes.

Well, silly me. I can’t count the many ways that I was wrong. From the minute I got off the plane, I knew the stories to be fact. The air really was special…I know, I know…how the fuck can air be special, right? But it IS. The smell, and the warmth, and the way it is always, like, the perfect temperature. How the heck is that even possible? I don’t know, but it is. I just felt like, the minute we landed, and that air touched me, tension I didn’t even know I was holding left me. There was nothing about Maui that I didn’t like. Except leaving. I really didn’t like leaving.

And ever since I have been home, I want to be back there. This past week, my subconscious has been putting on a show for me, every time I close my eyes and slip off into sleep. And when I wake up, I am homesick for a place I have only visited once, for a week. So I have done what anyone who listens to her dreams would do- I got online, I looked at jobs, I looked at houses, I discussed the possibility of moving, with everyone I know. I took a poll on Facebook.

What I noticed was, the more I thought about it, the more stressed out I was. What if I was making a mistake? What if I got there and hated it? What if the job I got there didn’t work out, and then I had left my great job here and couldn’t go back? What if the schools really suck, and the locals pick on Camryn? What if I RUIN MY LIFE and can NEVER FIX IT?! Dear God, by this morning, I was a total mess with the what-ifs and the imagined bullying of my poor kindergartner. ┬áSo I changed my mind. I thought- “what if I just stayed here, right here, for a while?” And all of the tension left my body like a fat breath of Maui air had just entered my lungs.

I’m not giving up on the idea that Maui might be someplace I call home someday. What I am giving up on is the idea that it is time for me to upend my life just as I have found some order and routine- this is something I am very good at robbing myself of. See, I don’t know what this is all about, but I can tell you that there is a pattern I can see to my life where I work like hell to create some safety and sanity in my life, to give myself a sanctuary somewhere…and then, the minute I can finally relax, I start tearing it all down again. I don’t know what that is all about, but I don’t think it’s really about me being bored. I suspect it may have something to do with me avoiding some scary truths about myself. And I KNOW that if I don’t allow those things to see the light of day, I will keep right on doing what I do, which, if I’m being honest, looks an awful lot like running, an awful lot like creating diversions.

What I am going to do is stay here, in my awesome little house, in my beautiful little town, and I am going to hang out with myself for a while longer. I am not going to make any big and life altering decisions until I am sure I can trust that I am making them with a sound mind, for the right reasons. And, in the meantime, another visit or two might be in order. Because that place really is Magical. What? It IS.