This is the first post in a five-part series discussing addiction, recovery [relapse], and long-term sobriety. As I celebrate five substance-free years, I am taking the time to [publicly] look back at where I really was in the months preceding my “clean date”, how I got to where I am now, and the ongoing implications of sobriety in my life today. While I’m not secretive about being sober, it isn’t a facet of myself that often comes up in any area of life. This is something I’ve decided it is time to change.
In the trenches: This first installment outlines some of my darkest days. I am so grateful for the real-time reflections (in my own words and through my so-skewed lens) even as they pierce my heart, bruise my pride, and counter my current persona. These truths remind me how far I’ve come, how great now is, and that anyone struggling out there is not alone. Just because this is your now doesn’t mean it’s your forever.
I see no need to go into a lot of back story or especially gory details, but I will provide some brief context. In 2006 I was twenty-one years old. I was in year six of raging, life-consuming (not to mention threatening), bulimia. At this point I was a barely functioning member of society completely isolated from all family and friends. I kept myself afloat as assistant manager at a Seattle-area Subway and had some brief flings with community college. I’d been “sick” long enough that any hope for better was fleeting–if existent. For a few years I used whatever substance was available to escape the hell bulimia brought. And in the end, methamphetamine brought me to my knees.
I have voices in my head telling me it’s time to toss in the dreaded towel. Not death, but the promise of it. Surrender to the blissful apathy that can be secured only after one has truly given up…on life and hope and health and all the facets that they encompass. I think I tell them to give me today, tomorrow and probably the week or so that follows. In actuality I have become worse than a sitting duck. I have blindfolded myself to the severity of the errors of my ways. It’s not that I don’t know. I’ve said it before but it stands to be repeated. As innocence cannot be retrieved, knowledge cannot be returned. I cannot admit how thoroughly I understand. Instead I am forced to beg, bargain and justify. Acknowledge, examine and elaborate upon all the reasons to keep the path, pave the path, fucking give in, live and love the path. I have enough reasons to buy some time, distracting myself from saying I see.
I can’t know and see and say and be seen and not act. I can’t act, therefore I cannot be seen. To avoid your gaze, I must work to construct a facade. It’s thin and at times transparent. It exhausts me. I don’t know how to stop. I can’t go both ways. I’ll break, and if I don’t hold me together, who will?
April 24, 2006 12:45am
I don’t think I’ve ever been this fucked up in my life. I’ve been more drunk, more coked out, more strung out even. More stoned. But right now it is the generality of “fucked up.” It’s broad and undefined and all encompassing. The body, the mind, the being. The life and all that it encounters. I am fucked up. It all is not [yet?]. I am doing phenomenally well at holding it together, piecing it together, carefully and yet not also steadily nor surely. Still well. Still doing good things. I will be positive to me if no one else well. But only upon due accord. And to me (who is, after all, the most important voice when speaking on myself) I feel a difference; a shift and an overall general improve.
I am aware that I am playing with fire, and have been from the beginning. What’s risking a burn for something that feels so good, works so well and leads to such productive creations? It’s cleansing. I clean and my body is cleansed. The cycle of sleep is reset and it’s as if one has stumbled upon a handy, portable (an unfortunately very illegal) fresh start. Some people begin with breakfast in a bowl. Tonight I have chosen meth in a pipe.
I don’t want to think or feel or process and that is where the extreme level of inebriation is good. Great. Ecstatic. Chill, dude. Chill as fuck and it gets better from here. Or worse, depending upon your outlook. I anticipate the insanity and crave the freedom it brings. Strive for it, long for it. I am tweaking and therefore I am free. I need not answer for my actions. I need not indulge bodily necessities. Poison in hand I need no other people. I become okay on my own. There are fleeting “feelings” of fear. Trepidation. The annoying inkling of some unidentified something being slightly off-kilter…and perhaps leaning towards a full-on topple. Inklings are easily ignored or misconstrued or over-analyzed into defeat or even simply denied. Notice I am not denying anything. I am the first to acknowledge that they are there.
I know this is fire. I’m just not sure it’s really such a big deal. I know what has happened to other people, what could and does happen to “people like them.” What about us? We aren’t them. We are already too consumed to be any further eaten alive. Right?
May 24, 2006 5:50am
I am void of thought. Intention. [void of it]. Attention. Water and nourishment. Of excess. If empty is what I’ve become then I wonder what follows the completion of deflation. Not the bottom. I’m not there. I won’t visit. I don’t know if I am fooling myself, maintaining an excellent act or…or? Perhaps this is progress. The divorce of black and white and immersion in the subjective subtleties of grey. Maybe instead of deflated I will be adequately prepared to be filled. Full. Fulfilled. I don’t care right now. And it’s nice. It’s nice not to take on the world or even my own skewed perception. I knew better but now I know best. No. I still know better. I must just feel worse. Or feel less. Or have progressed (regressed?) further. Always learning and yet never forgetting. I cannot erase my conscious. I cannot ease my insight. I run, but the pace reaches it’s inevitable frenzied pace and I see that the grave is my only place to hide.
Back to Bedlam: There are many times in my life when I have turned to music as a form of expression, but never so completely and desperately as during this time. If you are interested in [one of] the song[s] that, to this day, embodies this time for me you can listen to it on YouTube.