Tag Archives: drug addiction

Being in Recovery

find yourself.png

Edit: Something I should definitely add, in the interest of not alienating people is this- there is 12-step recovery, and there are other types of recovery, as well. But ALL recovery means DOING THE WORK to be a better person than you were when you were using. If you are not actively engaging in the process of figuring out why and how you wound up where you are, then that is not recovery. If you are still using any substance to change the way you feel (and I’m not talking about anti-depressants here, to be clear), that is definitely not recovery. For ME, that means the traditional NA, AA, twelve step path. For you, it could be faith based or whatever floats your boat. But recovery is a specific thing, and you are either doing it or not. It’s not a halfway thing. THAT is the point I was trying to make.

Something that REALLY bothers me a lot is when people say they are “in recovery” when what they mean is that they stopped using a particular drug. Listen: You are not In Recovery if you stopped using meth or heroin but you still smoke weed or drink. You are not even in recovery if you practice abstinence completely, but you have never been to a meeting. Being in recovery (for me, for instance) means attending 12-step meetings regularly, and working those steps, with a sponsor. You can say you are clean, you are sober, or anything else like that if it pleases you. But don’t say you are in recovery, because you just aren’t.

Listen, I am not trying to downplay what anyone is doing to better their lives. If you can stop using hard drugs and find that you are someone who can drink responsibly, my God, that is GREAT for you, more power to you! But please, don’t confuse that with real recovery. It isn’t. Let me explain to you why that is-

Recovery is a lifestyle. It means committing yourself to something that is serious, time consuming, and really hard at times. My drug of choice was amphetamines. Do you know how often I toy with the idea that, because of that fact, maybe it would be okay if I drank occasionally? It crosses my mind a lot. Despite the fact that I have factual evidence that every single time I have been a responsible drinker it has eventually led me back to drugs at some point, I still continue to battle with these thoughts here and there. Maybe this is not the case for you, and hey, high freaking five on that. But it has been my experience that this is what we call a “yet” situation. I am not prepared to gamble with what I have earned.

Here’s the other thing: through my prolific years of drug use, I learned something really important. Addiction is not just about the drugs, and the shameful things that happen to us and because of us while we are using. It’s really about the people we are, the behavior we exhibit, and the deep seated self-loathing that basically all people with addiction issues have in common. People who have problems with addiction have problems with loving themselves. When you take away the drugs, the problems are still there. The drugs or whatever it is you are using to control the way you feel, and the way you show up in the world, are a symptom, they are not the real problem.

Recovery is how we get to the root of that problem. It’s like manual labor of a the spirit- there’s a lot of heavy lifting and digging, a lot of time spent in the dark with all of the things you fear the most. When you are in recovery, you make a decision to face all of the things you are terrified of looking at, and to do that, you have to dredge shit up, shine light on it, pick it apart, and learn how to dispose of it properly. And you do every bit of it with NOTHING to take the edge off, NOTHING to dull the pain, even when it sounds so good, you could almost cry.


Let me tell you, it’s a struggle sometimes. Do you know how hard it is to date when you are in recovery? I don’t have the option of loosening up with a drink, and thanks to my general anxiety over who I am, this would be welcome on a date, let me tell you. Do you know how much of a weirdo I feel like when I try to lightly gloss over the fact that I don’t drink to a guy who just cannot compute the concept? “But why?” he inevitably asks, or “You don’t drink EVER?” And it feels like I have grown another head, but you definitely don’t want to lead with a horror story of WHY you really don’t drink. And yes, I could just say I’m allergic to alcohol (lies) but, you know, I’d rather just not.

My point is, recovery is a very specific thing. It MEANS something to the people who take it seriously. The ones who are fighting to grasp it, to hold onto it, to incorporate the principles into their everyday lives. We aren’t just trying to stay clean, we are trying to use a set of instructions to become the best people we are capable of being. And it’s HARD, but it is good work, and it has rewards far beyond what I ever expected to receive. So please, respect the word recovery. And now, I shall get down off my soap box. Carry on.




I knew, long before I was ever ready to start fighting, what my biggest battle in life would be. I knew that I was an addict when I was still very young, before I could even manage to inflict very much damage on myself, or those around me. I understood, on a certain level, that I “partied” differently than other people- I was already worried about where and how I would get more the moment I got my hands on my particular poison. There was a brief, tiny moment of relief the second the substance hit my blood stream- and then the next second, I was thinking about how I could make it last, how I needed to pace myself, how I could find more, how I would get it, who I would get it from. It was a full time job, my addiction.

I used to think, under a different set of circumstances, I could use happily. If only I could hold a job, and had enough money- if I could be in a different environment, one where I wasn’t just relying on other people to keep my head above water, maybe then I could use drugs and it would be okay. So, God blessed me with that set of circumstances, and I got to see that there was a whole new set of reasons why I couldn’t use successfully that way either. Suddenly, I had the fear of being found out. I had the fear of losing everything I had worked so hard for. I had the shame, now, of living a lie. I actually found myself missing the days when I could just be a bold, in-your-face fuck up. Hiding was ALWAYS part of the deal, but this was a whole new level of fakery. It sucked.

And it was a blessing. My addiction, in all of it’s forms, has been a blessing. I was blessed with obstacles, and I was blessed with the ability to overcome them. Because I am who I am, I never would have been able to get to where I am right now if I hadn’t gotten to beat that poor dead horse from every conceivable angle. I needed to run myself into the ground, exhaust every option, until I was able to admit that I had no idea how to master this thing- that it had mastered me. Only then was I able to surrender, and it was the greatest blessing of all- surrender became my only way out, and better than any relief I’d ever experienced from any drug. Better by far.


I have been blessed to live this life, hard as it was, because it brought me here. That doesn’t mean I don’t have regrets- I do. Oh boy, do I. Every single day of my life, I deal with memories that surface out of nowhere, filling me with the most exquisite shame, embarrassment, sorrow. Things I have said and done to people I barely knew, or people whom I love greatly-they run the gamut from just a little stupid to outright cruel, and I struggle to forgive myself. To forgive that girl- that dumb kid, really, that I was. It’s rough. I didn’t just stay in the shadows of the world during my active addiction so much as I inflicted myself upon people. I was not easy to deal with, to say the least. And I have to live with that knowledge, and the scope of it. I am the only one who knows just how wide my path of destruction really was, after all.

Where is the blessing in that? Well, let me tell you- it keeps me stepping carefully today. Knowing what I am capable of, how sharp my tongue can be, how short my fuse, I am careful. I know well the feeling of regret, and I don’t want anymore. I am learning how to think things through, and how to stop myself, and when I can’t, well…I have learned how to apologize. I am truly a better person today because of who I was in my addiction- and yes, almost anything would have been better than who I was then, but I what I mean is, I have worked very hard to be a good person. Someone who thinks very hard- maybe too hard sometimes- about how I want to show up in the world. I don’t think I would have thought this much about what kind of person I wanted to be if I hadn’t been where I have been. Pain is a catalyst for growth, and I have had a lot of pain. And a lot of growth.

I do not recommend that life to anyone- there is no guarantee that you will ever get to the depths I experienced if you find yourself in that world, but there is no guarantee that you won’t, either. There’s no guarantee that you won’t fall further than I did, and there is no guarantee that you will ever find your way out. But I choose to see that life as a blessing because of what came after it- the love I have been able to experience as a result of my recovery, the way I know for sure that it could be so, so much worse. The way that, even on my very shittiest day clean, I can still stand to look someone in the eye. I couldn’t do that on my best day using. I think that there is a blessing in every cross we bear. It’s just up to us to figure out what that blessing is.

Not a Magic Sprinkle Unicorn Kinda Day

angry unicorn

Lest you start to believe that I am some sort of woman on a beautiful island oasis of recovery, meditating peacefully, surrounded by a sea of serenity and singing mermaids, let me clear that shit right up for you; Example one? I give you this day:

-As usual, dragged my ass all morning, screwing around, reading YOUR blogs, judging everyone on Facebook, reading a silly little novel I picked up while Christmas shopping at Target. Then, naturally, go into full on panic mode when the coffee finally kicks in, and I realize I actually have to leave the house in 45 minutes. Which would be fine, if I knew where my pants were, or had, you know, showered. Fuck.

-Pull it all together in decent time, only to find that every single pair of shoes I wear to work are mysteriously missing. I still don’t know where the hell they are. I looked under the couch, under the bed, in the laundry pile, and yes, even in my hell pit of a closet. They are GONE. I finally unearthed some ridiculous spike heeled booties that make my ankles wobble and my feet ache, but at that point I was just grateful to have something to cover my feet.

-Show up for work four minutes late, not because I wasn’t there, but because those stupid shoes are so high, and so spiky, it took me nine minutes to walk through the parking lot and into the hospital. NINE MINUTES. Sitting at my desk, I realize that there is a very real possibility that one of my cats peed on my shoes. Something isn’t smelling right.

-Additionally, on top of all of the shoe drama, I have slammed my knee into a drawer, my face into a door, my fingers into both walls AND my desk, and snapped myself in the face with my scarf ( this hurts worse than you might think). I wore my glasses all day not realizing there was caramel (don’t even ask, because I don’t know) or some sort of candy filling, globbed onto the arm-therefore, it is now in my hair.

-I ate too much cheese over the past few days, and it has now become a whole different tummy issue. If you don’t know, you don’t want to know.

-I didn’t have time to meditate.

-I’m feeling a little grouchy, a lot tired, and I don’t even have anyone to blame it all on, other than myself and just a plain old shitty day.

On days like this, I have a hard time accessing my gratitude. Yeah, I’m not hiding out in my house with the blinds drawn, strung out and paranoid, but it’s really hard to live in constant awe of your beautiful life when you are right in the midst of normalcy. But you know what? That’s okay. I’m as normal as I’m ever going to get, and people have days when everything goes wrong.

Am I going to use over it? Hellllll no. That thought never, ever crossed my mind. It sure would have, once upon a time. Any excuse to throw the towel in, and I was all over it. But that is not who I am today. I can have a bad day- a day WAY worse than this one- and I can survive it. Today, I know I can. And I have enough days in a row behind me that I can say, with confidence, that tomorrow I’m going to make it too. Even if it’s worse than this stupid day.

Although I REALLY hope it isn’t. Now excuse me, I need to go change my shoes.




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.


Sometimes, Obstacles are the Best Thing Ever.

Apparently, you can stop without completing the circle. Barely.
Apparently, you can stop without completing the circle. Barely.

I write about all sorts of things on this blog- really, whatever I feel like writing about when it comes to me. I know, now, that maybe that isn’t the best way to approach a “successful” blog venture (whatever the hell that is supposed to be), that if you want to attract a huge following, you should find an angle, find a particular “voice”, and then stick with that. Well, just so you know, I have no intention of doing that, at least, not today, and not in the foreseeable future. I started this blog because I love to write, and I wanted to write about things that I felt like writing about, in a place where I could share those thoughts with other people.

What is funny, though, is that I have been going through something recently that I haven’t wanted to talk about with anyone at all, not even myself. The last two days have been particularly bad, and the last thing I wanted to do was write about it here. Which is ridiculous, because what I am going through is real, and scary, and something that needs to be talked about, because I know that someone out there is going to relate. I haven’t wanted to talk about it because I didn’t want to upset or worry anyone, or have people think I am weak or stupid, or somehow less awesome than I am. But that is foolish, and I am not going on with the charade.

I have come so close to relapsing in the past two days, it is kind of a miracle that I didn’t. I don’t really have any explanation for why I didn’t, other than God must really be looking out for me. That is the only thing I can come up with. I had that anxious knot in my gut that told me I was on the ride now, and I couldn’t get off until I had seen it to it’s logical conclusion- which is always me, getting loaded. I have never before been so far gone and managed to escape without putting something altering in my body. Only this time, I did,

I made phone calls to people I shouldn’t have called. By the time they (invariably) called back, I couldn’t follow through with my mission for one reason or another. I visited places I shouldn’t have gone, and, by nothing other than the grace of God, or someone looking out for me, there was nothing there that I was looking for. I felt sick every time I got in my car, because I knew that I could not be trusted, that I was out looking for trouble, and this time, I might find it. I don’t know how I made it through, I really don’t.

Here is what I didn’t do- I didn’t call my sponsor. I didn’t reach out to anyone in recovery for help. I didn’t go to a meeting. I didn’t use any of the tools that I have learned over many, many years. Because I didn’t want to be talked out of my feverish quest to fuck myself over. I wanted to self destruct. Or, at least part of me did. There was also another part of me that was in there FREAKING OUT, begging me to stop, please, please stop. I wasn’t listening, though.

I want to share this with you now because maybe you can relate- I know people without problems with addiction just can’t get it, and that’s okay. I mean, it even sounds crazy to me, when I am feeling exceptionally well- like “why the hell would you want to mess up everything you have going for you?” I forget just as easily as if it had never been me. Then, one day, you go from going along just fine to total inner chaos. I didn’t want to wreck all the peace and happiness I have found, I just wanted, for a minute, to be who I was. Just for a day. But it is never a day, it is always more, and thank God, I didn’t have to go any further to remember that.

I don’t know if I am out of the woods yet. I woke up this morning just feeling incredibly grateful that the knot in my stomach had lessened, that I was still clean, that I didn’t open my eyes still determined to ruin my own life. I kept thinking “I am going to ruin Camryn’s birthday if I get high, there is no way I can pull this off.” and it’s true- even though her birthday isn’t until Sunday, in my heart, I knew…if I gave in today, Sunday was no longer going to be about Camryn. Nothing was going to be about anything but me, because that is how it goes.

So this morning, I thanked God profusely for the obstacles he put in my path over the past few days. I am so grateful right now for the phone calls that went unanswered, and the returned calls that I missed. I am so grateful that there were no drugs in the places I shouldn’t have been. I am so grateful to be sitting here, still feeling…everything.Thank you, thank you, thank you God. For the obstacles in my path that kept me clean, and for getting me through this. I am more grateful than I can adequately express.

But You SEEM Fine…


I’m going to switch gears today, and be a little more serious. At least, I think I am. It’s actually a little hard for me to tell how things are going to come out until they have started coming out, but the subject matter is certainly a little more serious. I want to talk about depression. Have you ever been depressed? Like, REALLY depressed, not “OMG, I am so depressed, those shoes that I wanted at Kohl’s were totally sold out by the time I got there” depressed? I am talking about “Holy shit, I forgot to take a shower or change my clothes for like four days” depressed. (See, I am trying to be serious, and I am still so darn funny! What the hell?) And you might be thinking “I have never been depressed, but I have seen my mom-best friend- husband- sister go through it…” Well, that is awesome, and we have all seen someone go through it, but let me tell you, unless you have gone through it yourself, you have no idea. Because, even when you HAVE gone through a bad bout of depression, even knowing what it’s like, when you see someone else going through it, you still want to say stupid shit to them like “You need to get out and get some exercise!” or “You just need to do something fun, and you will feel better!” or “Try to look on the bright side.” And that is how the person you are talking to knows you have no fucking idea what you are talking about. It is also when you better be glad they are so depressed and lethargic, because otherwise, they would be kicking your ass right now, or stabbing you in the neck with a pencil. Then, they would no longer be depressed, they would be exhilarated, and Voila! You just helped make a serial killer! I hope you are happy. Just kidding. My point is, people that are legitimately depressed already know they would probably feel better if they got up and did stuff, it’s just really, really, hard- if not impossible.

See? My problem with depression is exactly that, what I just did in the paragraph above- I make jokes about everything, and I laugh, and other people laugh with me, and then they can’t possibly take me seriously. I mean, funny people aren’t depressed, right? I don’t want to be a total downer here, but I would like to point out that Robin Williams was pretty fucking funny. I’m not saying I am that funny, I’m just saying he was, like, THE funniest- and we all know how that turned out. My point is that, if you look at just the cast of Saturday Night Live, historically, funny people are some of the most depressed, most mentally ill, most fucked up people out there. And they have a really hard time with it. I can still be funny, and be doing less than well. Clearly, I also have a bit of an ego problem, (you must be thinking, as I just compared myself to the Gods of funny-ness) but that is a blog for another day.

I am trying really hard right now to organize my thoughts so that I can fit everything in here in a cohesive manner, but I get excited about what I am trying to say, and I don’t want to lose anything…hold on. Okay. So, here is what I think: I think there are all kinds of levels of depression. For instance, after I had my last baby, I experienced horrible post-partum depression, and it blew the socks off of anything I had known before or since. Like, I was so depressed, forget about showering or eating, altogether- my biggest concern was the fact that , not only could I never imagine feeling happiness or joy ever again, I believed that all my memories of being happy were completely made up. So, I was so depressed that it even affected my belief that happiness ever existed. That is pretty scary. That is, like, Top Shelf Depression. The depression issues I have dealt with since then have all been drug related, or at least, interfered with, if not caused totally, by my out of control drug use. So the easiest way to “cure” those episodes was to quit using drugs. Easy-peasy. (not really, but you get my drift)

This time is different. I am not using drugs, so there is no quick fix. Further complicating the issue- I won’t take anything pharmaceutical. I might if this gets really out of hand, but I am definitely not to that point yet. There is something called “Post Acute Withdrawal” that is a fun little issue unique to recovering drug and alcohol users that basically means you are a total mess for up to two years after getting clean, and I have considered that this may be part of what I am experiencing. For the record, I was calling it “Post Traumatic Withdrawal Syndrome” until my neighbor pointed out that it was “Acute” and not “Traumatic”, and I feel my title is more accurate, but whatever. So, there could be an element of that, for sure.

The weirdest part of all, this time, is that I could feel the depression coming. Thanks to my clear head, I didn’t just come to one day with the overall sensation that mankind is doomed, and that everything in life is pointless, I could feel the subtle changes within me that said “Ugh, something sure doesn’t feel very good here.”, and I was nervous that those feelings would grow, and they have, and here I am. Now, my big question is- what can I do about it? I won’t take anything (right now) and I am not just going to let this dark cloud descend…so what do I do?

Well, the first thing I am going to do is talk to my therapist about it. I have an appointment tomorrow, and I am going to sit close to a box of Kleenex and let it all out. Then, I am going to ask her what ELSE I can do to nip this in the bud. She is super cool, and, even though she is younger than me, I totally like her. She always gives me photo-copied lists of information when I see her, and I joke that she is only encouraging my hoarding tendencies. I like, though, that she sees through my joking to what is beneath it. So I will talk to her. And hopefully, we can come up with a plan.

And this morning, I am going to try to look on the bright side, and take my dog for a walk, and hide the body of the person who suggested it. Just kidding.