Tag Archives: alcoholic

One Year

I’m officially one year and 6 days sober.  A year ago I was in rehab– scared and completely miserable.  I didn’t want to get sober, I didn’t want to be there, but, on some level, I did want my life to change.  The last year of my addiction, even though I wasn’t ready to call it that yet, had been pretty messy.  I hurt a lot of people that I cared about and I stopped caring about myself.  For someone like me to make it to a year of sobriety– and not be miserable(!)– is kind of a miracle.

My life is so much better than it was a year ago, but that’s not to say that my life is easy today.  I still think about doing drugs and drinking on a regular basis.  The difference is that now I know that I don’t have to act on every impulse I get.  I know that no matter how bored or how bad I’m feeling, drugs and alcohol will not solve my problems.

The biggest difference in my life is that today I have hope and the capacity to be grateful.  I’m also reasonably happy most of the time.  Which, if you knew me before, is also a bit of a miracle.  There are friends that I lost in my addiction that I don’t think I’ll ever get back.  Losing people because of my bad behavior during my addiction still makes me sad.  There are two friends in particular that I really miss.  But getting sober doesn’t magically bring everyone back.  And that’s okay.

Getting sober has been my hardest won accomplishment and it’s the thing that’s most important to me today.  And for that I’m grateful.



“Can we get some food?”

I’d been at the Werewolf’s house for two days.  It was mid-afternoon, my least favorite time of day, and the drugs were gone.

The house had seen better days.  The Werewolf lived in an old house painted hunter green with a substantial front porch.  We never spent much time outside when I was there, preferring instead to hide from daylight inside.  I always hated watching the first rays of dawn come in through the blinds in his bedroom.  Watching the early light creeping in through the cracks in the blinds always put an awful damper on our bender efforts.

Inside, the house was unassuming but functional.  There was no glamour to the place.  The wood floors were scuffed in some places but were a considerable upgrade from the ugly dark green carpet that used to rest atop them.  The walls were mostly bare, although there was a large map of the United State somewhere in the house.  The Werewolf never was much of a decorator.  There used to be two deep green vinyl couches in the living room, adding to the overall greenness of the place.  Those couches were replaced by a thoroughly comfortable neutral colored couch.  It was impossible to get comfortable on the old ones.  No matter how carefully you sprawled yourself on them your skin always stuck to that vinyl.

The dining room was empty except for a basic wooden table, compliments of Walmart. There was bench along one side of the table while chairs lined the other three sides, all equally uncomfortable.  At the beginning of a bender, the table was close to immaculate and bare.  By the end of the episode, it would be littered with ugly drawings, take out containers, dirty dishes and sticky cups.

The kitchen was never a good place to find yourself.  Cramped, cheap, and empty of a dishwasher, it was not a place I liked to be.  There was usually a mountain of dirty dishes in the sink, sometimes accompanied by a small army of fruit flies.  The peeling plastic linoleum had seen more sanitary days and the cupboards were generally empty of any kind of sustenance.  The fridge, however, was usually stocked with Gatorade, champagne, and leftovers with some kind of whiskey stored in the freezer.

We’d been up for a few days and I hadn’t really eaten since we started partying.  The drugs were gone, the sun was out, and it was a weekday.  I needed food and I needed to go home.

“I’m not getting any fucking food,” the Werewolf announced.

I was tired, cranky, and coming down.  I snapped and left.  And that was the last time I saw him.  I doubt I’ll see him again.  Our lives are moving in opposite directions in different parts of the country.  Without the drugs, we never had much to talk about. When I was using I had no interest in sober people. Now that I’m sober, I doubt that he’d have any interest in me.

When I got home I looked in the mirror.  I was green.


A New Diagnosis

This update is long overdue but bear with me. It turns out that the most ironic thing about my time in rehab was probably the simple fact that the diagnosis that catapulted me into recovery– bipolar disorder– was removed after I transitioned into sobriety. I’m not bipolar, I’m an addict. After being clean for some time the psychiatrist decided that my mood disorder was drug induced and at almost six months sober I haven’t had any recurrence of symptoms.

Initially, I had mixed feelings about the change in diagnosis. Just when I started to accept that I was bipolar I had the rug pulled out from under me. Addiction hasn’t been any easier to manage and they don’t make pills to treat it. It’s a different diagnosis but one that I’ll nevertheless live with all my life.

But there is some hope. People do recover from addiction. And I’m not a slave to my medications anymore. It’s been almost five months since I’ve taken any kind of mood stabilizing medicine and it feels good to be back to myself. That’s not to say that taking psychiatric medicine is bad– if I was really was bipolar I would certainly need to be on my meds and there’s no shame in that.

Shame is a funny thing and it runs across both diseases– addiction and bipolar disorder. And I’ve been learning that one of the most powerful ways for me to eradicate my own shame is to be open about my recovery instead of hiding behind it. Silence in addiction is deadly. By sharing my struggles and showing that recovery is possible I can spread the message of hope and try to help other people find the recovery that I was so lucky to receive.

Righteous Indignation

Some may say I’m a whiner.  That I tend to complain.  Well, I’m not malcontent, but I sure as hell know how to voice my dissatisfaction.  And what I’m about to voice goes far beyond mere dissatisfaction. 

I’m irate.  And I’m going to rehab. For 90 days.  

I’ve been wrestling with the Bar Committee all summer, trying to get approved to practice in the beautiful state in which I decided to settle down and sit for the bar.   Well the bought is over, the final bell has rung, and the scores are in:  
        Bar Committee: 1
        Me: 0
Despite my disgust at having to be forthcoming, I disclosed my bipolar disorder on the bar application– which is mandatory.   I signed some waivers for them to talk to my two current providers, who I trust, and I thought the match was over.

It was not.  Next, the Committee, in all its warmth of understanding, twisted my arm and forced me to cough up 5 years worth of confidential medical records, under the auspices that my file required “further review.”  I was warned that anything short of full compliance would not result in admission to the bar.

I knew it was about to get ugly.  I braced myself for referral to a lawyer’s assistance program.  I thought they could do no worse than send me to substance abuse classes  (going rate is $100 a week) and assign me a mentor.  

I was wrong. 

And it’s gotten uglier.

The lawyer’s program called and said that, based on my file blah blah blah, they were recommending a three day INPATIENT evaluation.  

I smiled. I promptly scheduled.  I went in with a game plan: no crying, no napping, and, above all, I would pretend to be friendly.

My plan didn’t work.  
I’ve been sentenced to 90 days inpatient rehab.  

Why yes, I have been clean since May.  Yes sir, I stopped binge drinking years ago.  

What’s that you say?  It doesn’t matter?  

What are you carrying on about? You say I’m an alcoholic? That I’m an addict? That I’m in denial?

Oh, so you’re not interested in the evidence that proves that I’ve been clean for months?   And you didn’t listen to me when I described how and why I decided to get clean?

They were not much for listening.  

Well it’s not possible to win a wrestling match with the bar committee– they pay all the judges, fill all the seats, and fix the outcome before the wrestlers even take to the mat. 

And I’m irate. And rehab bound.

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