Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Breaking Up

My mind has been on a rollercoaster the last couple of days and I must get my thoughts out, or my brain will explode.  Excuse the mind-dump.  It may be long.

Positivity is waning.  No wait, it's increasing.  No wait, there it goes again.  Hold on, it's back!  Nope, no it's not.  Ad nauseum.  It's that back and forth that is maddening, and makes me want to scream and do anything to make it stop, to get on an even keel.  I know to expect this, been through it a thousand times.  I either hold on, or give in at this point.  I am holding on, and riding it out.  I don't have a choice.  Well I do have a choice......but not really.  That choice I want to be over and done with.  But not really.  But really.

See what I mean?  It makes no sense to be so attracted to something that makes my life miserable and is going to end up killing me.

Many addicts refer to their drug as a lover.  It's kinda cheesy, but there it is.  Bear with me here.

If the drug is the lover, the addiction cycle is like a bad abusive relationship that is hard to leave.  You love your lover, and love the relationship.  Your lover makes you feel happy and alive. There are periods of calm when everything runs smoothly, then out of nowhere, they turn on you and smack you around.  You think it's your fault, and hide in shame and guilt.  You love them, but also fear them at that point.....maybe even hate.  You decide to leave, the only way to save yourself is to pack up and leave.  

But where do you go?  You have no place to stay, no money, and no job.  You lose your resolve to leave.  Then the person you love/fear/hate comes crawling back to you, remorseful about what happened, and promises it won't happen again.  They love you again, and you gratefully fall into your lover's arms, back to where it's familiar, and safe for the moment.  You forget about the bad times, and when your lover tells you it will never be bad again, you believe them.  

Things are calm and steady again, but then..... bam.  The punches come.  Blindsided again, you make up your mind to leave.  This time nothing will stop you!  But.....the same difficulties face you.  Where do you go?  What do you do afterwards?  You decide to stay, just to see if things will change.  Again.  You don't want to give up on the person you love so easily, so you give them chance after chance (after chance, after chance) to makes things different.  You go more warily now, tip toe through the rough patches, but stay you do.  It is, after all, the only thing you know.  Familiar.  And don't they say, better the devil you know, than the devil you don't?  You carry on with life, and hide from others this painful secret you have.  You lie that everything is fine, make excuses for this bruise or that.  You can't tell anyone the truth (but fear that they know already....this just makes up your resolve to try and hide it better).  

You have this gnawing feeling at the back of your mind that you really would be better off without this person, but fear of the unknown holds you back.  Your lover no longer makes you feel happy and alive.  Maybe you have other reasons for staying, even though you're miserable.  Maybe you stay for years, jumping from one calm period to the next....until the calm periods get fewer and farther between.  One day you realize that the calm periods have stopped altogether....or maybe never existed in the first place.  You feel like you're drowning, but still cannot fathom actually leaving.  Until one day you discover a tiny spark of hope.  The thought of leaving is still scary, after all, you and your lover have a long history.  You've shared a life together for many years and you're so entwined, you feel like your right arm would be cut off if you no longer weren't.  But you know things will never get better if you stay.  You see that now, after years of denial.  The seed has been planted.

You start to make preparations to leave.  You feel out the waters, weigh your options.  You change your mind a million times, tell yourself it's not so bad.  Maybe it takes a few more years and a few more bruises to finally get the resolve to break up with your lover once and for all.  There are painful decisions to be made, leaving scares you to death, but for the first time in your life, you're trying to put your health and sanity first.  It feels weird.  Alien, almost.  Your lover has a strange hold on you and the call to come back breaks your heart.  "Can I really stay away?" you ask yourself.  You know you've made the right decision, but regret it at the same time.

Wow, I really jumped the shark with that analogy, didn't I?  But I can't think of any better way, cheesy as it is, to describe addiction to anyone who has never lived through it.  Maybe I'm also using it as a way to explain why I haven't been able to leave for good.  Some people can break up and get the hell out of dodge without a look back.  Others find it more difficult.

I've made the decision to break up with my lover, for good.  My lover has gone by many different names.....heroin, oxycontin, hydrocodone, dilaudid, cocaine, ecstasy, valium, crystal meth, and others in between.  

The last time I used was Saturday.  

I'm on the fence about alcohol.  I don't have nearly the problems with alcohol as the others....perhaps I'll leave room for the occasional one night stand with that one.  I don't know.  But the others.....no more.  I know I know, one day at a time, don't think of it as forever, just don't use today.....I know all that.  But you and I both know that's just a smokescreen for reality.  It's what we have to tell ourselves because the stress of thinking about NEVER USING AGAIN FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES is too crippling. 

I have been here so many times it's embarrassing and disgusting.  My timeline is thus:  I started using heroin and other hard drugs in 1994 following the car accident.  I got clean for the first time in 1996.  Stayed clean for two years, relapsed in 1998.  Got clean again in 2001.  Had some small slips, but for the most part stayed clean 2001-2002.  Stayed clean AND sober from 2003 - 2007.  Relapsed big time the latter part of 2007.  Made another attempt at staying clean in 2008.  

Then from 2008 until now 2014 (!) it's been just one big blur of jumping from binge to binge.  Periods of sobriety lasting anywhere from a couple of days to months at a time.  Binges lasting anywhere from a couple of days to months at a time.  Binging.  Stopping.  Binging.  Stopping.  

I haven't been clean these six years and relapsed hundreds of times, I've been in relapse all these years and just stopped occasionally.  I saw it from that perspective for the first time this morning.  And it is, pardon the pun, a very sobering thought.  It actually took my breath away, once I'd realized that.  And once again I am humbled, mortified, and ashamed that I have allowed this to go on as long as it has.  

I've written some pretty brave words here over the years about stopping, and analyzing parts of myself and why I do this.  I've talked up a storm about it.  Lied that everything was fine and made excuses.  Said that I was clean but really wasn't.  I've lied to myself that I was fine, because I was still "functioning."  Hey look at me, I have a job -two even- and a roof over my head and cats and I write and participate in blogging groups and joke around on facebook and read books and buy groceries and go bowling with friends and ok I might pick up once in a while but I'm fine and I appreciate everyone's advice but really I'm normal.  

Let me tell you, from my personal experience, that "functioning" is the biggest lie, and the hardest to come back from.  I have been so down and low at times that I was the stereotypical junkie living on the streets selling myself for drugs.  I've talked about "the dope whore years" elsewhere but yes, that happened.  Is selling myself for a fix worse than white knuckling it between pay periods and driving 150 miles on my day off to the big city because I can't get the drugs I want in my small town?  The addiction is the same, either way.  I think it's easier to delude yourself about it, and thereby harder to admit that it needs to stop, when you're "functioning."  

I've exhausted myself writing this and I know no one reading this has any reason to believe that I'm sincere this time around.  I said on facebook the other day that I felt like I'd just taken a flying leap off a cliff by making this decision......and hitting the publish button on this feels like another leap.  I've disclosed things here that I'm nervous for people to see.  I just know I can't go on the way I've been going.  The cycle needs to end.