In the past week, I’ve written about my addiction. There are some things that need to be added. I’ll put them in. There’s not really any order to them…
The best thing that happened, while I was an addict, was the very end. It was the hardest on my father. I showed up for New Years drunk and high. He put me on a bed and I passed out. When I woke up, he told me (paraphrased) “I love you but, I don’t like you. I’ll give you one ride to one place and I never want to see you again.” I believed him. A week later, I was walking back to his house to beg forgiveness. I was done. I knew, at that point, my way would never work and something had to change. If he hadn’t done that, if he’d kept helping me, I’d still be an addict…
There was alienation between me and my family. It wasn’t their fault. It was my perception. It was me being too high, or out getting messed up, that caused the rift. They didn’t approve and didn’t know the extent. I never clarified things, either. Over the years, I missed all manner of holidays, trips, and events because of my poor choices. That has left a bunch of scarring on our relationship. We, as a family, still carry the baggage of that. I’ll accept all of the blame for that one. They did the best they could to process what information I gave them. Problem is, I really didn’t give them any. I’d promise to be there and not. That, too, was a pattern. Broken promises and un-made commitments were a way of life for me.
I was also a champion at fooling myself. I didn’t do meth every day, or even every month. I could go for a few months at a time without it. Then, I’d go for a year or two using it as often as I could. I never stopped smoking pot or drinking. I’m not claiming sober during that period. What I am trying to say is that I would get far enough away from meth to think I could start back using a little bit on the weekend or something and then I’d get back into the hugely destructive pattern…as compared to the other hugely destructive pattern of being an alcoholic. *sigh*
I was able to convince myself that, as long as I had a job, I was ok. That was a lie. It was a justification for doing what I knew was wrong.
I still have a hard time processing emotional information. The first person I ever told I loved, that was not a blood relation or a dog, was my wife. I really didn’t understand the meaning of love. Honestly, I’m still not quite sure that I do, now. It’s a hard thing to believe that you are worth being loved. I’m getting better but, there are days and times that I have a hard time with it. Just ask Aj, she’ll tell you how many times she has to try to convince me that I’m worth it.
I think that, for me, using stunted my emotional growth. It stopped me from learning the lessons that I should have learned in my teens. *editorial, I started drinking weekly and smoking pot daily when I was about 16* That is baggage I still carry. Learning to love is a constant source of amazement to me. It’s why I, so often, write in defense of love and about it…sorry, I digress.
I’m also left with a bit of a chip on my shoulder. I never quite feel like what I’m doing is quite “good enough”. I’m always trying to do better. Sometimes, that’s a bad thing. I try too hard. I know it’s perception on my end. When someone tells me “good job” I’m never sure if I believe them or not.
On a semi-related note, when I was a year sober, I expected my family to be as willing to believe it as I was. Here’s the issue. I had a decades long track record of messing up. They hadn’t had enough time to believe that I had really changed. That was a fair assessment. I wanted things to be all “sunshine and light”. They NEEDED more proof. Given the way I had done things in the past, their judgment was fair. I would appear to be doing well and let them down…again. I think, looking back from a few more years, they had every right to feel that way. If the pattern is failure, then family needs the time and distance, too. They need to make sure that they are not setting themselves up for another letdown.
I still don’t trust myself. I do not keep alcohol in my house. I won’t buy a bottle of wine or a beer for a recipe. There’s a cliff. If I take the tiniest step over the edge, the stop is the bottom. I don’t go to restaurants that are “Bar and …”, at least not by myself. On my wedding day, there were six glasses of champagne and one of club soda at our dinner. I don’t mind being around people drinking as long as they are family. I know they’ll help me stay protected from myself.
I have a very strict policy about associating with people from the “bad old days”. If I did meth with you, I don’t associate. There are some people I knew then that I have contacted once or twice and then lost track of. There are some people that I knew in my teen-age years that I still love and cherish, even if I rarely talk to them. Those didn’t do meth with me and have stopped, as far as I can tell, smoking weed. It really is a matter of protecting myself.
I’m also a homebody. I really don’t want to go out. I like and need the security of a stable refuge. Sure, I go to work. I rarely, less than once in six months, go out to eat. Home is safe and calm. I need that stability.
Back to perception. I was/am used to living in my own head. I am a goof. I love to joke and tease. I read everything I can get my hands on. Those are not the same as letting what I’m thinking out. *this makes sense to me, I’m trying to let it make sense on the page* Even writing this feels like talking to myself. There’s only me, here. That means that I can feel guarded by the impersonality of the words on the screen.
If you have learned to distrust yourself and you can not trust the people you associate with, then distrust becomes safety. It is far easier to expect to be let down and not trust success than it is to expect good things. In my past, when things went right, I KNEW, they were going to come crashing down. Because I lived so close to the edge, I spent every dime on drugs that didn’t go to basic needs, the tiniest hiccup was going to cost far more than it should have. Does this make sense? When you fly without a net and you eff up, the only thing to catch you is the ground.
Anyway, things are better. This is nine years, NINE YEARS, down the road and there’s still baggage. I suspect there always will be. Things are better. It gets a bit easier every day. It is less hard to want a drink. It is easier to trust people and myself. I am really learning to love myself and extend it. *editorial, it is still easier to love someone else than it is to love me*
The changes are incremental. I was high longer than I have been sober. No matter how bad I want it, it is a series of imperceptible steps. The stopping using was only the first step. Even without the drugs, the patterns still exist. The first step seems huge. It was. Thing is, that is not the only step. If I stop taking them, it would be easy to relapse. I have to keep moving forward.
There’s also something else I watch out for. I’ve seen people relapse. There’s a moment where one second using is bad and the very next, it is ok. That is the most dangerous moment. If I can keep that moment from ever happening, I’ll stay clean. All I can do is make sure that I never let that spot happen. Part of the way I do is to stay well away from people that still use or justify it. There is really only one person I know can never go back, me. I’m not making a value judgment about them or their lives, I’m only protecting myself from myself.
I do not begrudge my past. It shaped me. It gives me more appreciation for what I have now and how far I am from what I was. I live in a place that is Gratitude. I love my wife with all my heart. She knows my fears. She wakes me up from my nightmares. She is a constant in my life and is a support when I start to fall.
I do trust myself to reach out when I need to. That’s the first part of learning to trust myself. I have friends that I can call. There are Aj and Z. I learned to trust them. Actually, Aj has known me for some years and I had a hard time believing her when she told me that she loved me. *editorial, as a friend, the only woman I have romantic love for is my wife. she’s the only one I ever will * Aj is the one that boots my tail when I get down on myself. Aj’s the one that has to tell me I’m worth being loved when I don’t really believe it.
Z is the Christian I go to first for prayer. We all need a first person to go to, no matter our faith. Z knows when I need someone to talk to God for me, she does.
There are bunch of other people on my side but, those three Ladies are my “support group”. I need them and they know it. *grins, if they didn’t, they do now* Having them has made a huge difference in my life. I don’t have to tell them every thought but, when I need to tell someone, they are there. Knowing that Aj knows I’m writing this now makes a difference. It means that I can write it and know there’s support and energy being sent my way. Does that make sense? Also, knowing that people I admire and love return that love makes a difference. That there are friends that have picked me to be their friend helps my confidence in myself. *editorial, family, you are born into, it doesn’t make them less, it merely removes “choice” They’re stuck with you.* That my wife made the decision to marry me is beyond my comprehension…except for the part that she really did and puts up with me. *editorial, I’m either 4 or 50, drives her nuts. grins*
This ran longer than I expected. It was only going to be some passing thoughts. I do want to emphasize something else, I always do. I WAS NOT a victim. I picked the path I took. I repeatedly took steps to ensure I stayed on that path. There is no one to blame for my actions except for myself.
Good things did come out of that path. I am a good person. I was then, it is just that I was an addict. If I hadn’t been him, I wouldn’t be married to the woman I love now. If it weren’t for that path, I would not know either Aj or Z. That would be my loss. I learned that my way is not always right and someone else’s isn’t always wrong. That has made me willing to embrace people that are “differently normal” *see previous post*. Because Aj and Z have my back in private…and public, I write a blog that is to support them. Yes, if I hadn’t been an addict a blog about Religious Freedom and LBGT rights wouldn’t exist, probably because I wouldn’t know Aj and Z. So, the unintended consequence of me being who I was is that I am here now. *editorial, I know this paragraph paraphrases ones in previous posts about addiction. I don’t care. It needs repeating*
I didn’t reread my previous posts about my addiction, I have tried to avoid the word “we” in this post. All I can do is to speak for myself. I have no way of knowing if any of this applies to anyone else’s life. It is only about my experience. If this does help or give better perspective, that is my intent.
Thanks for reading this far.
Thanks, too, Sweety, Aj, and Z, more than words will ever say, you have my love and gratitude.