60 days

one month into my stay at the house and 60 days into recovery.  i’m working; waiting tables again for the first time in a long time.  i work at a brunch restaurant that doesn’t serve booze, which is important for me.  i don’t want to work nights so that i can make groups at the house and outside meetings, and i’m glad that they don’t serve liquor because i used to drink and use while i was working in restaurants before getting clean.  the bartenders would make me drinks or i’d bring my own in and i’d have drugs delivered to the restaurant when we were busy.  this is a good place to be – and work has been going really well so far; except for one day that went particularly bad.  when i told my counselor about it he said that he was happy that i had a bad day.  this took me aback at first…. but thinking about it later, i understand now why he felt that way.  on one hand, he’s told me that my “up days”, or good moods, are so UP that he’s interested to see how i act when i’m having a “down day”; and on the other hand, it’s a part of life to have good days and bad days and he wants to know how i’ll cope when i’m having a  plain old shitty day (for the record, i was able to leave the bad day at work where i found it, and went on to enjoy the rest of my day).

another interesting thing that happened this week was a trip to the chocolate shop in the area where i work.  i got off of work one day and passed the store as normal, but then i turned around and went inside.  i’ve been eating A LOT of chocolate lately, like a lot of other heroin users do (so i’m told), as a kind of substitute…. a way to make myself feel better for a brief moment (did i say i’ve been eating it A LOT????).  i’ve realized that it was a substitute for a while now and i’ve been meaning to quit both the chocolate and smoking soon – but i’ve been waiting for some kind of catalyst to land in my lap first.  i’ve gotta just pick a date and move forward.  at any rate, back to topic:  i went into the store and looked around a bit, my eyes landing on the shelf full of truffles.  i noticed the many different types, some of them alcohol flavored.  i asked the girl behind the counter if the ones with alcohol flavors had any real liquor in them or if they were just flavored that way, and she said that there wasn’t any alcohol in them…  so amongst the other innocent flavors i purchased, i bought an amaretto flavored one also.  even with my discount for working in the same shopping area, the bill was way more than i expected, and this is the point that i brought up with my counselor that evening.  however, he was MUCH more upset about the fact that i had bought the alcohol flavored one, and called the incident “amaretto flavored chocolate balls and the road to relapse” and had me write an essay on the fact.  i’m still having some trouble trying to determine exactly what his rationale for the issue here is, as i’ve seen amaretto and irish cream coffee creamers in stores and gas stations forever, and there’s no booze in there either.  apparently i’m “oblivious” to the problem here, as he so happily pointed out to me during our session….. but i’ve thought about it for a long time, and i’m pretty sure that if i started drinking non-alcoholic beer for some reason that i would know damn well that i’m substituting or taking a placebo, eventually get frustrated, and then go for the real thing.  if that’s not what he means then i sure hope he’ll enlighten me the next time we sit down.

today i was off work, so i ran around running some errands that needed to be tended to.  on my way home i drove by a church that i’d been to a meeting at before.  i looked at the clock on my radio and realized that the meeting was in progress, so i turned around and went in.  it was halfway over, but i’m glad that i at least caught what i needed to hear while i was there.  the meeting was about ‘money matters’, both donating to NA and AA, as well as responsibily handling your own finances.  i have been spending money like a maniac – like an addict, even.  again addict thinking pops its head up in my daily activities.  i leave work with a pocket full of money but i can’t keep it there… one of the 2 big reasons why i want to quit smoking, btw.  i spend money on stupid shit that i don’t need, like chocolate, smokes, energy drinks and ice cream every damn day instead of budgeting and putting it away.  i need to learn how to budget and make smarter decisions with my money (and EVERY aspect of my life, obvs) before i piss it all away.  i’m almost on top of my rent here at the house, and should be able to catch up and bank some after this holiday weekend – as long as i’m actually able to work.  my section has always been outside since i started there, so if it rains i don’t work.  so then, fingers are crossed that the weather is favorable and that the bennies are generous.

the triangle of self-obsession

“When we are born we are conscious only of ourselves, we are the universe.  we perceive little other than our basic needs, and if these needs are met we are content.  as our consciousness expands we become aware of a world outside ourselves.  we discover that there are people, places, and things around us, and that they fulfill our needs.  at this point we also begin to recognize differences and develop preferences.  we learn to want and choose.  we are the center of a growing universe and expect to be provided with the things we need and want.  our source of contentment shifts from basic needs miraculously met to the fulfillment of our desires.

“Most children, through experiences over a period of time, come to realize that the outside world cannot provide all their wants and needs.  they begin to supplement what is given to them with their own efforts.  as their dependency on people, places, and things decreases  they begin to look to themselves more and more.  they become more self-sufficient and learn that happiness and contentment come from within.  most continue to mature; they recognize and accept their strengths, weaknessess, and limitations.  for most people growing up is a natural process.

” As addicts, however, we seem to falter along the way.  we never seem to outgrow the self-centeredness of the child.  we never seem to find the self-sufficiency that others do.  we continue to depend on the world around us and refuse to accept that we will not be given everything.  we become self-obsessed; our wants and needs become demands.  we reach a point where contentment and fulfillment are impossible.  people, places, and things cannot possibly fill the emptiness inside of us, and we react to them with resnetment, anger, and fear.

“Resentment, anger, and fear make up the triangle of self-obsession.  all of our defects of character are forms of these three reactions.  self-obsession is at the heart of our insanity.

“Resentment is the way most of us react to our past.  it is the reliving of past experiences, again and again in our minds.  anger is the way most of us deal with the present.  it is our reaction to and denial of reality.  fear is what we feel when we think about the future.  it is our response to the unknown; a fantasy in reverse.  all three of these things are expressions of our self-obsession.  they are the way that we react when people, places, and things (past, present, and future) do not live up to our demands…”

 

…. that’s part of an NA pamphlet that i read yesterday.  it really resonated with me; it made sense in a way that i hadn’t thought of before.  i love the way that it starts out… that’s the first thing that jumped out at me, i like the way that the first paragraph was written.  it’s more metaphysical and eloquent than most fliers or program literature is, and that drew me in.  i’m reading 3 books at the same time besides the NA and AA basic text and big book, and this little brochure made me stop, reread it, and really think about what it had to say.

one thing that i identify with is the fear that it talks about.  i don’t recall where i heard the phrase “overwhelming impending sense of doom”, but i lived with that for a long time in 2009 and 2010 before my first treatment.  it would come out of nowhere when i wasn’t busy or when i went to bed at night.  sometimes it manifested as nightmares that would stay with me most of the next day or two – some that i still recall to this day.  i don’t really react to my anger, as most people around me already know, but i do bottle it up and carry it around.  i try not to share it with anyone because i look at it as a weakness and i try not to carry a grudge, so i usually end up turning it against myself – and i can carry a grudge against myself for a long time.  as far as resentments go…. well, that’s a story for another day.

 

active addiction

i just realized that altho i’m no longer using, my addiction is still very much alive and well.  i have to monitor it daily to keep from picking up again.  it wouldn’t be hard at all to cop some dope, get a dart, and get high….. i still think about it all the time.  i’m mourning the loss of something that was a part of me for quite some time now.  i know in my head that it never was a good thing, but it was a friend to me. 

i miss it, and there are days that i’m saddened to let it go.  i’m angry that i am an addict and can’t control the amount that i use and drink.  i want to be able to use heroin without consequence; i wanna be able to drink like other people.  i want to relive those days when drinking was fun and when shooting dope got me high.  i’m pissed off that in order to beat this shit i have to live without it for the rest of my life.  i’ve never abstained from anything i’ve ever wanted; i’ve always been the guy who goes for it with all he’s got, which paradoxically means that if i want a happy, productive, drug & alcohol free life that i need to not pick up drugs or alcohol. 

i don’t know…. mostly rambling on about being pissed off at the guys in the house who relapsed last night.  i’m pissed off for two reasons:  1) i’ve gotten close to guys in the house now, they’re becoming like brothers to me, and for them to go out and pick back up makes me feel like they’re fucking up after doing so well for so long; and 2) seeing them go get high again makes me wanna go get high again too….. but i’m not beat for that anymore.  i’m not throwing this life that i’ve been working towards away like that.  i’m not going back to that place where i sell all of my shit cuz i’m a sucker for a feeling.

about me

since this is a blog about addiction and recovery, i guess i’ll qualify:

i grew up in a nuclear family in a nice neighborhood in the suburbs.  my parents didn’t separate until i was 15, but that comes later.  my childhood was happy and we didn’t want for anything, so i can’t blame my drug use on any horrible situation that happened to me as a kid.  it seemed like there was always a party going on; my parents, my aunts & uncles, and all of their friends got together all the time and were always drinking, laughing, and having fun.  the music was always classic rock:  beatles, doors, zepplin, pink floyd… and it was always loud.  they had so much fun, and so did us kids.  i quickly discovered more about the “glamorous” drug lifestyle of the 60’s and 70’s, and i knew from an early age that i wanted to do drugs and i thought that all adults partied like my family did. 

 i got my chance at the age of 15 when i did LSD for the first time.  i started smoking pot and drinking too, and long story short things just escalated from there.

my friends and i used from that point on for a very long time, but later a strange thing happened… in our mid to late 20’s, my friends started getting in these “relationships”, started getting these big boy and big girl jobs, and started getting married and having kids…. and they stopped doing drugs and they stopped drinking as often or as much.  they started copping all these “responsibilities”, but me?  i didn’t care about any of that stuff; all i wanted to do was have fun, party, and get as fucked up as possible.  a few years later these same friends started suggesting that maybe i had a drinking and drugging problem – to which i obviously replied:  “i don’t have a drinking problem, YOU have a not-partying problem!”  i started looking forward to days like new years eve, st patty’s day, and cinco de mayo – not because it was an excuse to drink (my excuse was that it was a day of the week that ended in a ‘y’), but because these were the days when all my friends drank the same way that i did EVERY day, and i could go out to the bar and enjoy drinking with them again. 

i was a high-functioning addict and alcoholic for many, many years.  i got lucky and some of my buddies with those big boy jobs helped me land a really great job as a project manager for a contracting company and i didn’t really have to worry about money for a while.  i moved into a nice apartment, bought some motorcycles, and started skydiving every other weekend.  i was lonely tho, and soon went out and got some new friends to replace those boring ones who wouldn’t party anymore.  life went on in this way for a very long time.

i had dated back then, but i never had the sort of relationships that my friends did.  the only person that i cared deeply about was myself, and myself only wanted one thing from the women i saw.  fortunately for them, they realized this soon enough and went out of my life as quickly as they’d come in. 

after several years of living on my own things really started to change.  using and drinking weren’t fun anymore, they were becoming necessary.  i didn’t look forward to it for the same reasons that i used to… i woke up and started vomiting in the shower.  my hands would shake as i got myself dressed.  my stomach would get upset after lunch.  by 4:00 i would have sweat dripping down my face and anxiety would be creeping in.  at quitting time i would run out of the office like it was on fire and drive like a maniac to the liquor store.  i started to show up late and then to miss days of work.  i stopped showing up at important family or friends’ functions.  i started drinking in the morning to ward off the negative effects and began getting pulled over by the police. 

my first trip to rehab happened at 32, three years ago.  after treatment i decided to relocate to a different state where friends of mine lived on the beach.  this was a wonderful time in my life – i was clean and sober, living near the ocean which i had always wanted to do.  it wasn’t long, however, before i stopped doing the things that i’d learned in my first treatment and stopped going to AA and NA meetings.  this is how my guard came to be down the first time i was introduced to heroin.  this was a drug that all my rock icons had done – and i wanted to do it too.  i thought i was smarter than a substance, that i could control my use – but i was a sucker for a feeling.  i had a love affair with heroin not unlike a real relationship….. at first the courtship was exciting and new; exhilarating and promising.  with time things became natural and comfortable.  after a while i became co-dependant on my new lover, and soon enough the relationship was on the skids. 

this disease has brought me to my knees praying to a god that i’ve never believed in to kill me or cure me…..  but i’m not dead and i’ve got some hope today now that i’ve put myself back thru rehab again.  today i am sober – i’m not sick, i’m not going thru withdrawl.  i can laugh and be happy again.  i know that there is a program that can take away my obsession to use and make me into the best person that i’ve ever been.

first things first

my name is _____ and i’m an addict.  

my sobreity date is 6/25/2013 and my drug of choice is more.  more dope, more booze, more of whatever you’re holding, and then some more.  they have a name for that kind of user in the rooms of AA and NA:  it’s garbagehead…. and it’s not a term of endearment.  i’ve used alcohol, heroin, cocaine, and a great deal more to try to fill a hole inside myself that’s been there forever.  addiction is a disease of the mind and ‘they’ say drugs and alcohol are but merely symptoms of a larger problem. 

but today i choose not to drink or use drugs.  tomorrow isn’t promised, but if i can get through today clean & sober i have a shot at life.

it’s ironic:  i started drinking and using cuz i wanted to be famous – and now i’m anonymous.  the rock stars i idolized as a youth drank and got high; they wrote songs about it, made movies about it, and i wanted in on it.  Morrison, Hendrix, Joplin… all dead at the age of 27.  in my generation Kurt Cobain joined the 27 Club and heroin took out Bradley Nowell, Layne Staley, River Phoenix, Shannon Hoon, and countless other people whom i looked up to, but i didn’t heed that as a warning – i jumped in head-first.  i started at age 15 and didn’t stop til my first rehab at 32.  i thought that i had lost everything, but it wasn’t long before i tried heroin.  at first it was like i had finally found that one thing that had been missing my entire life.  i spent years trying to fill my soul with more. 

my life became an obsession to find and get and use more dope.  my life was no longer measured in days, but by bags and needles.  living one hit at a time, i couldn’t eat, sleep, work, or breathe without being high anymore.  i was powerless over drugs and i just couldn’t do anything anymore.  i could not imagine my life continuing with or without heroin, but i couldn’t stop.  eventually homeless and brought to my knees yet again, i put myself back into rehab. 

i’m now enrolled in a long-term treatment program, living in a beautiful town on the beach, working a regular job, and i’m writing this blog to share my experiences in active addiction and in recovery with those of you who care to read and as a form of self-therapy.  hopefully somebody out there suffering from addiction stumbles onto it and gets the help that they need too.  if it reaches even one person i’ll be happy.  recovery works if you work it.  there is no cure for addiction, but we do recover – and we don’t have to feel like that ever again.