Tag Archives: sobriety

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.


Green

“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.

https://dailypost.wordpress.com/dp_writing_challenge/the-settings-the-thing/


One Year Later

Image

A year ago I was back in the psych ward.  Fifty one pills of Lorazepam taken during a blurry three hour window and a 911 call from my roommate at the time effectuated my return.  And I was angry.  Angry to be back there less than six months after my first stint, angry because I felt like no one was listening to me, and angry because I felt like no one believed me.  And even though I wouldn’t admit it, I was probably angry at myself.

Looking back, it’s amazing how near-sighted I was.  The 911 call that my roommate placed probably saved my life.  But that was the last thing I was going to admit back in April of 2013.  Kicking and screaming all the way to the hospital, I was convinced she was the crazy one.  But in the year that’s elapsed since I took that ambulance ride, a lot of details about that night have come into a sharper focus.  A few months ago, when I was still in rehab, I remembered a detail about that night that night that my denial had conveniently suppressed.  When the cops came into my apartment to escort me to the ambulance I was in my bedroom, ready to call it a night.  My roommate and I had gotten into a screaming fight and I was ready to surrender to sleep and forget about it all.  On my nightstand there was a bottle of Nyquil waiting for me.  Not my preferred brand of cough syrup at the time, I preferred Robitussin because, unlike Nyquil, there usually wasn’t any alcohol added to it.  But that night all I had was the Nyquil.

When the police walked in I was sitting up in bed, in the dark, with the bottle in my hand.  And had I drained that bottle, as was my habit at the time, I probably wouldn’t be here today to write about it.  The dose of Lorazepam I took, fifty one milligrams, is pretty close to lethal by itself.  But add alcohol to the mix, like the alcohol in the Nyquil, and I probably never would have woken up.

Thank God my roommate cared enough about me to make that call.  She told me that she had decided she’d rather lose my friendship than lose me.  There’s no doubt in my mind that I’m where I am today because of the courage and strength of the people in my life that cared enough about me to save my life even if it hurt my feelings.  A relationship can always be mended in the light of day but I might not have made it to dawn if she hadn’t picked up the phone to make one the hardest phone calls of her life.

It’s strange to be able to look back on this night with the clarity of five months sobriety.  So many things in my life have changed, a lot of things didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to, and I lost a lot of good friends along the way.  But now I can look back on that night and be grateful for all the ways that I was saved. 

Looking back is certainly bittersweet, like a lot of things that have come with my sobriety.  The year between April 15, 2013 and April 15, 2014 hasn’t been an easy one.  And there are still a lot of things in my life that I have to make right.  For now, all I can do is pay it forward, and thank the people in my life who were stronger than me, by staying sober—one day at a time.

 

 


The Upswing

I feel like I’m on the upswing.  I’m over 60 days into rehab (finally!) and things are starting to get easier.  Sort of.  I spent the weekend at home on a therapeutic leave from treatment, which was absolutely divine.  Once you’re about two-thirds of the way done with rehab you’re eligible for one of these leaves.  Some people are crazy and don’t take one.  I’m crazy but not that crazy — I was ready to get the fuck out of dodge, even for two days.  

Unfortunately, I’ve now reacquired the itch to leave.  During my first few weeks here I was (almost) literally itching to leave.  My life outside of rehab was all I could think about and was the only place I wanted to be.  After awhile, however, Stockholm Syndrome set in.  Things got easier, and institutionalization started to feel normal.  I got used to the fact that I was going to gain at least 15 pounds.  I got used to travelling everywhere in a white 15 passenger van.  I got used to spending my days cooped up in a big old house with 20 other women, crying and talking about our feelings.  

But with that little taste of freedom, 48 hours at home with my family, I reacquired that itch.  It’s not unbearable — I know that the end is in sight — but it’s enough to make me malcontent.  I just want to fast forward through the next month of my life.  I’m ready to get back out there, armed with the tools I’ve acquired in rehab.  Because rehab has killed my desire to use.  I’m ready to end that chapter of my life.  I’m tired of feeling crazy, of numbing myself to anything painful, and of missing out on life.  I’ve been living in a fog these last few years and I’m realizing that I like what sobriety feels like.  

So I’m trucking along.  I came in kicking and screaming but I’m finally starting to reach a place of acceptance.  I’m just ready to get my freedom back and start living my life again on the outside.  I’ve still got some time left here though.  And even though I’m starting to get that itch, I can tell I’m on the upswing.  


Backsliding

I had it down to a science. I knew what stores sold it, whether they sold a generic, whether they sold it in soft-gel form, and whether there was a self-checkout I could use.

I knew the differences between brands and knew flavors I could tolerate. I learned to avoid the extended release formulas unless I wanted to double it up with the ordinary, old fashioned release kinds.

I knew which ones had extra ingredients like acetaminophen, guaifenesin, and sudafed. I preferred my DXM unadulterated.

I even knew what doses I needed to take to get to my desired high. And I knew the differences between the high plateaus.

I had whittled my cough syrup use down to a fine art.

I didn’t go back to cough syrup right away. After my release from the crazy house, I was sincere in my sobriety. I met with my drug counselor and made a plan. I worked with my therapist to develop coping mechanisms to get me through the drug cravings. And most importantly, I announced my new sobriety to my friends and the Werewolf.

The last bit was the hardest part; it made me squirm. Announcing my sobriety meant accountability. My friends were invited to act as watch dogs, policing me and keeping me from the ever-dangerous relapse. I hated being watched like this under any circumstances, and their lectures became more than tiresome.

Telling the Werewolf was the worst of all. It meant that our benders would be over: a thing of the past to day dream about nostalgically in sticky classrooms, sober.

I was never “completely” sober though. I worked with my therapist and together we developed a realistic plan to start me on the road to the old fashioned, strict, and– in my mind– boring sobriety.

So for me, “sobriety” meant I was allowed to occasionally smoke weed, drink in moderation, and take any pill I was prescribed (which included high doses of benzos, amphetamines, and opioids). This was clearly at odds with the common conception of “sobriety”.

For me, sobriety was ugly. It meant abstention from the hard drugs I was doing: the molly, ecstasy, morphine, vicodin, and– most importantly– my beloved DXM, conveniently and legally available at your local drug store.

Even though I was still allowed to associate with my minor vices, going “sober” was hard. The drug cravings were hard to ride out. I often had to sit at the table with my hands tucked under my thighs, watching the seconds pass on the 15 minute timer. If the craving didn’t abate in those 15 minutes, the timer was reset and the rhythmic tic tocs resumed.

I really did want to go sober. I missed my drugs but, during those the first few weeks after my hospitalization, I was able to get through my cravings by reminding myself of how awful my hospital stay had been– and how easily I could end up back there. Especially if I backslid my way into DXM.

DXM is a double-edged sword for people dealing with mental illness. Not only does DXM nullify the effects of mood stabilization drugs, it goes farther than that– DXM actually magnifies the problems of mental illness, digging you deeper into your diagnosis each time you use.

And as time passed, I started to forget why being sober was so important. The memory and shame of my hospitalization began to fade away, as did my convictions. Why was going sober so important? After all, I was high functioning even when I was using. But, most damning of alI, I was bored. Boredom will always be a trigger for me. And DXM whisked me away from that unbearable, self destructive boredom.

The days rolled by and my convictions slowly began to fade away. Three short months after my release, I was back on the cough syrup wagon with no end in sight.

I started to backslide.


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