Monday, November 2, 2015

Slips Are Still Possible…For Me



Insanity crept in

My plate wasn’t too full to blog last week. My mind was. Funny thing about being an addict, it doesn’t seem to matter how long I’ve been sober, there will be times life will test my sobriety and as I wrote this last week, I was in that time.

I’m emotionally hurt. A damaged soul who, even with the proper tools at hand, can’t always right the ship immediately. It can take some time to process the hurt and even longer to recognize the pain even exists. And in this case it had for some time. It’d been building for weeks.

Days ago, I couldn’t have put my thoughts into coherent sentences. My mind was too muddled and confused. I wasn’t sure why I wanted to drive fast, sit on the edge of the seat on roller coasters (literally), and take crazy chances. I just knew I needed to be reckless. I wanted to fill a void but didn’t know why. I craved to feel some kind of rush and that’s dangerous for an addict.

After reflection, I know the whys (there are several) and I have to figure out how to emotionally fix it. It doesn’t matter that common sense tells my addicted brain how stupid and irresponsible it would be to act out. Will I? Probably not. But that doesn’t stop my brain from fantasizing about numbing my pain by getting high. What a relief it would be…at least temporarily.

What I find fascinating is that if you saw me strolling down the street, you’d never know. I look fine. I look normal. I smile, I chit chat with my co-workers and hold the door open for strangers. But inside I’m tormented. I’ve thrown up my white flag of surrender.

The chinks in my armor are showing. The cement wall of my recovery has become a sheer curtain. I can reach through and ruin my sobriety in an instant.

I’ve done the right things to keep me on the sober path; I’ve reached out to a program member, I’ve talked to Devin about the seriousness of the situation, I’m journaling, I pulled out my affirmation cards (those things are so awesome) and am going to hit up an NA meeting.

The insanity lifts a few days later

I was sitting in the car dealership waiting for my repair to be finished when my phone rang. Unknown number. Normally I would’ve ignored it. My gut (God) told me to answer it. It was a program call. A newbie in distress. God put her in my path for a reason. I listened to her as I drove to the tobacco store to start my newest addiction. Vaping. It’s better than cigarettes. And it’s definitely better than drugs, folks.

We shared many of the same experiences, past drug addictions being one of them. She recently suffered a relapse and hearing her utter those words scared the ever-living shit out of me.

Relapse. How easy it is to fall back into.

I was grateful to have been sitting in the parking lot of a tobacco store and not downtown trying to score blow, speed, meth, or whatever else I could get my hands on at the moment. It very easily could’ve been my next stop; I was feeling that low.

Not only did hearing her tale scare me, it humbled me. It sobered me. More than any meeting I could’ve sat through.

So, I did what I would’ve told any sponsee: go back to the basics. I took care of me: I read (a very funny read by the way); I studied program material; I worked on my sequel; I watched mindless comedies and reality television; I took some time off from chores and cooking and accepted help from Devin and the kids. Most of all, I talked to Devin. I shared why I felt such tremendous pain. And that was healing. 

Funny. I was going to forgo counseling for a while to save some money. Think I’ll skip the hair salon instead.

Grey hairs are better than a black soul.

I’m looking forward to a much better week. You?






44 comments:

  1. Elsie, glad you didn't fall back down into that hole. God did prompt you to answer that phone call.
    Keep talking to Devin. And to God.

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    1. I'm glad too, Alex. No telling where I would've landed but it wouldn't have been good even if it was just a slip. It would've caused so much damage to my other anon recovery. I do truly believe God stepped in and did for me what I could not do for myself.

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  2. Wow Elsie, that's quite a rough patch for sure. But good for you for holding on and taking it literally minute by minute, 'just for now I won't do drugs'. I'm proud of you for reaching out and talking. You can do it; you have a great support system. Hang in there!!!!!!

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    1. I took the whole, This Too Shall Pass approach. I knew that no matter how bad I felt, it would get better and getting high would only make me feel worse in the long run. Guilt and shame would be at the top of the list and just add on to the crap already on my plate. Thanks, JoJo.

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  3. I'm so sorry you hit such a dark spot. As a roller coaster nut, I'm a junkie for a rush too, and it's easy to use something unhealthy to fill that void. Keep journaling. It does help.

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    1. Thank you, Diane. It was a rough patch, but it's slowly passing. I just have to be patience and be kind to myself. Journaling is such a release! I'm bummed the park is closed now - coasters are a blast!!

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  4. And there is me worrying that my life is mundane and banal and therefore is "wrong" and in need of justification and livening up a bit. This has me considering exactly where that thought may be leading me.

    I'm very very glad to hear that you've weathered this patch. That gives me strength that I can get through any bad patches I may hit too. Thanks hugely for sharing about it

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    1. You know, Graham, that thought crossed my mind too. It was, for me, (not directed at you) a way of justifying that I "deserved" to indulge and be just a "tad" selfish and get high. Why not right? I deserved it after being sober for so long. After putting up with so much and being on the anon side for so long. But those are just bullshit, self serving excuses. Could I see that ten days ago? Not quite. It was there but it was it a bit out of reach in that fog of desire. This is probably that one time that the flaw of ego served me well - didn't want that slip on my record. haha

      I think you can get through a rough patch just as I did. We both have solid recoveries beneath us. Even when the foundation feels like it's crumbling, it's not. It's built on cement.

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    2. Ego's can be useful some times - I only got through my first 9 months of sobriety due to my pigheadedness that I wasn't going to give in to the desire to drink since I didn't want to have to come back and say "I've had a slip" to all those I thought fully expected me to do so!

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    3. I agree. I think that's why when we are going through our steps, we are taught to take our flaws and turn them into strengths. For times just as these. And as always, it's good to know I'm not alone. Thank you, Graham.

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  5. Phew! Praise God. I know you were probably a big help to that sponsee and I'm very glad to see that it helped you, too.

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    1. Thank God, indeed. I believe we helped each other for sure. I was able to help her in her time of need, especially further into the week. And helping others move through their recovery (either in this addiction or the other) also helps me get out of my own head. Get out of my own way. Thank you!

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  6. I'm with Graham. This makes me realize how much I take my "boring" life for granted. Exciting isn't always good. Sometimes it can be destructive. I know things are hard, but I'm glad to hear you're weathering the storm.

    On a lighter note, I embraced my gray hairs long ago. Plus, it really confuses people when I have a baby face but gray tinged hair.

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    1. Yeah, sometimes excitement ain't all it's cracked up to be. Boring can be pretty nice sometimes. Well, I take that back. You have to have fun times mixed in too. Too much boredom can cause harm as well. There has to be a healthy mix. Listen to me, like I'm one to talk right now. I'm watching a ton of reality television - did you hear Caroline's daughter is getting married? No? Well she is! The wedding is gonna be killer!!

      Devin has the same deal as you with grey hair. He has a bunch but still has a baby face. Been like that since I met him. It's funny.

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  7. This, my friend, is fabulous writing. You've taken us through the subtle yet powerful force that is addiction - towards the light every baby step of the way. Thanks for sharing so much of your journey. Keep righting and writing through it. Love you, girlfriend.

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    1. Thank you for the kudos my fabulous friend! I try to write it so people understand it, truthfully but not horrendous it sounds made-up - because, girl, this shit is a nightmare at times. Journaling helps a lot. I've thought about sharing some of it, but, meh. Some things are better left unpublished. Love you too!

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  8. This is such a huge deal!! From the beginning to the end you handled this in the most optimal way you could have. Gray hairs are better than the other choice. Chin up and keep at it!! We miss you here in blogland. xoxo

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    1. Thank you very much, Jax. I appreciate that. I thank the work I did in my anon program. I think if I hadn't of put in that hard work a few years ago, I would've collapsed. Funny how the work just needed to be done on myself - didn't matter where it came from as long as it got addressed. Stupid childhood crap. ;) I'm back on my regular schedule. Maybe :)

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  9. Makes my mundane life seem fine and dandy. Maybe talking to cats isn't so bad lol Glad you didn't fall into any hole and got the sign you needed to stay strong. Bah to grey hair, I've had that for 7 years now.

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    1. Hey, talking to my dogs is a great form of therapy. Even though I feel like your cats would just get up and walk away while my dogs would sit and listen for hours. I'm grateful too. Grays for only seven years? Pfft! I've had them for at least ten. But like you love to point out - I'm old.

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  10. Hi Elsie - we can all and are learning so much from you through these posts ... life is tough and keeps dealing us body blows, but we have to stand up to ourselves so often, be counted, and get through ... well done - the black dog will appear again no doubt, it always seems to ... but you have another lesson to look back on ... and you will win. So pleased for you - and yes a grey hair is fine ... it's the inside that counts ... take care and all the best - Hilary

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    1. Wow, Hilary! Your words just made my heart smile. Thank you. I love how you coined the addiction "the black dog" - very clever. It very well may rear it's ugly head again when I find myself in an emotionally vulnerable position like this again. I'd like to think I won't but that would be ignorant. The cards may stack themselves just right and it may be stacked up against me. How I play them will be my choice. And that's what it comes down to; my choice. To stay sober and use my tools that I've learned or succumb to my addiction. This time I reached deep and used the tools at my disposal. Thank you so very much.

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  11. Nothing compared to your week, stay strong if you can!

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    1. Thanks, Fran. I keep on keepin' on. One day at a time as we like to say.

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  12. Probably my greatest fear in life (other than something happening to my wife and/or kids) is addiction. Ever since I was a teenager, just the thought of becoming addicted to anything, to losing control of myself to something else, has scared the out of me.
    I'm glad you got past the moment.

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    1. Thanks, Andrew. I'm glad/relieved too. It's a bizarre feeling to have and gives me a bit of an idea of how my mom must've felt in the beginning of her Alzheimer's. Knowing that she was losing bits and pieces of control of her brain but unable to do anything about it. At least I have recovery tools I can turn to.

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  13. There are reasons why we must endure a certain path and sometimes it is hard to figure out. Reading this, I almost wonder if you had that strong temptation only to be there for this new person that reached out to you. You truly know what she felt like and listened. To truly listen is a rare gift and you were there showing true empathy. This may have even made you that much stronger. When you spoke of taking risks it reminded me of my mom when she was young. She never was addicted to drugs or alcohol but she took major risks. She is German and, during and after the war, her stories made me realize how much she actually placed herself in those predicaments (using a slingshot on the Russian's butts when they were sitting on a log to go to the bathroom. Crossing over from East to West Germany with food etc...many, many times to bring food to her parents. Walking over the mountains from Germany into Austria with the border police hot on her trail. During the war, working for the German resistance placing dynamite on bridges to stop the Germans). She never found her addiction but she had that adrenaline rush to find danger. My dear friend also has that adrenaline rush and has been in risky situations and he is an alcoholic who fights every day not to have a sip. I wonder if that adrenaline rush and addiction is not somehow connected. Sorry I went off on a tangent

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    1. What an amazing take on the situation. It is quite possible I had to reach an almost bottom to truly understand where this other person was coming from and really understand her dilemma and her pain to hear her fully and be empathetic. Your mom sounds like a truly amazing woman. The things she did sound absolutely risky but also so very heroic too. I'm sorry your friend can relate on the alcoholic front but I am glad he is still sober. I think that the rush and addition are related. We addicts tend to be all in or all out until we find a happy medium within us.

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  14. Another great post, I seem to be just breezing through blogs lately being unemployed, maybe I should post more or Does anyone have a blog they would like to recommend? Self-promoted is always good too!
    makeituporfunny.blogspot.com

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    1. I can relate to being unemployed. I was unemployed for awhile. Now I work part-time. I recommend all those blogs to your right. They're my personal favorites. Thanks for stopping by

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  15. I admire your honesty and strength to look at yourself closely, see the chinks, listen to another's story, give encouragement, and just continue working on it ~ We all have our down and miserable days Elsie, but what is important is to acknowledge it, get support and just go back to basics ~ Have a good week ~

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    1. Thank you, Grace. Sometimes it's easier to be honest on here where there is a sense of accountability but also still anonymity (kinda). I agree, the important thing is to pick ourselves up, dust off, and carry on. Self-examination is the key, I feel. Have a beautiful week!

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  16. Hi Elsie,

    With your powerful verbalisation comes a release. Your story is a story of hope and destiny. Beyond addiction and I know this, is the freedom of regaining who we are and the better person we are determined to be. Addiction, a replacement for something missing in our life, starts out as our best friend and then becomes our worst enemy.

    You are never alone and bless you for your raw, candid post.

    Gary

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    1. Thank you, Gary. I know you are a person who can understand, although in a different way. There can be an emptiness or an inability for some of us to manage in what would seem like a "normal" amount of time. Sometimes when things get tough, it takes just a bit more for us to dig our heels in and work that much harder. Be well, my friend!

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  17. Good for you, Elsie! Stay strong and work your program.

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    1. Thanks, Debra. I'm rededicating myself to my program again. I needed to.

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  18. Pretty much anything is better then a black soul, like everything we need to take life one step at a time, learn to breathe and focus on the right stuff not the bad stuff that will destroy our being, you my friend know how to breathe and focus even if at times you have to wipe the screen clean to see what it is you are focused on, I think you are so brave and amazing sharing your struggles with the rest of us

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    1. Thank you, Jo-Anne. I think it was my recovery in my anon program that taught me how to step back and focus on things one at a time and just breathe. Just relax and realize that some things had to be let go and others couldn't be addressed right away no matter how much I wanted them to; each thing at it's own pace. This too shall pass and it did. I just had to be patient.

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  19. Life. It's not a race, it's a marathon.
    Not sure whether that's apropos, but it works for me.
    Well, that, and "Never Eat Fish Tacos From a Gas Station."

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    1. Yep, that works. It helps to take things slowly and not try to address things all at once and rush through it all. It also helps not to eat any food from gas stations. Unless that gas station is a WaWa, which I recently found; those places have some awesome fresh food and soups. Impressive for a gas station.

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  20. Hi, Elsie! Wow, you are certainly going through it! You've been on my mind in recently, especially in the run up to IWSG Wednesday. I had forgotten that you were MTM, and so I didn't find you in the IWSG list. I've been erratic with blog visiting these past months for several reasons, but I remembered your compelling story and was wondering how you were doing.

    Thank God you didn't slip after being sober for so long. But, if you had, you could start all over. It would be damned hard, but you could do it. I admired your courage in sharing the story of your husband's sex addiction, and I feel the same way about this post. I've never had to deal with drug addiction or alcohol myself, but my first husband's drug addiction destroyed our marriage, and mental illness and alcoholism crop up on every branch of my family tree.

    Hang in there. Continue to take care of yourself. And yes, grey hairs beat a black soul anytime.

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    1. Fundy! It's so good to see you again! I can relate to being erratic with visits to blogs like I used to. I took the summer off and then decided to stop doing the IWSG for now because I didn't feel I could do it fairly. I'm working part-time and felt like I'd just rush through it and that's not fair to those who write and read. I hope you are doing well.

      I'm grateful I didn't have a slip. And you're right, if I had, I would've picked myself back up and dusted myself off, learned and carried on from there. I share my tales of my addiction and my hubby's addiction in the hopes that others will know they aren't alone in their journeys and hopefully I can help someone learn from my own stumbles too. I'm sorry you can relate with a husband who had an addiction/family mental illness but I'm sure it also made you stronger too. Hugs to you!

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    2. I realized that you must have taken some time off from posting on the IWSG, but I was lucky to see your comment on some member's post. So note, that I for one, definitely noticed your absence. There is only so much time and energy, and you have to invest them in your most important priorities. I'm writing my northern posts and share info about my struggles with depression, anxiety, and periodic bouts with thoughts of suicide in the hope that they will help someone, know that they can come through the darkness to a better place. Happy weekend to you!

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  21. What a profound and deeply personal Post. I think anyone struggling with the Issues of Life can relate in many ways to the various ways we attempt to Cope...and which often, can just make Issues all the more complex! Being a full time Caregiver I often fall into the trap of not caring for myself and bottoming out from Caregiver Burnout if I'm not careful to heed the signs that I'm heading in that direction of being depleted to a point of danger physically, emotionally or mentally. For me Retail Therapy could be what I was inclined to turn to if I wasn't mindful... everybody has what they are inclined to turn to when Pain, Fatigue, Stress or whatever threatens to push you above measure and beyond strength. It's always a Relief to get a Grip in time... coming thru any darkness intact is always more of a Rush than anything else we could numb ourselves with. Hugs and Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

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Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm here to help any way I can.