Friday, November 11, 2016

Black Friday…Blackest Friday



 

I was headed to my weekly group meeting last week when it occurred to me that I’ve got a big milestone this year. I’ve been chemically sober twenty-five years. I feel it’s important to put “chemically” in there because I didn’t become emotionally sober until a couple of years ago. Thank God for S-Anon. But this post isn’t about what led me into the rooms of S-Anon or my husband’s sex addiction. It’s about my own drug addiction. So buckle in boys and girls. This post is about to get heavy and very real. Not to mention uber long.

Where I grew up drugs were readily available. Not just in the seedy parts of New York City but also in the back alleys of strip malls in nice neighborhoods. They took less time and effort to get in the 1980’s than an order of Chinese take-out.

I started smoking weed at a young age. It began as something to do on the weekends than progressed to daily use.  By the time I was in high school, the weekends were reserved for harder drugs: acid, mescaline, and mushrooms. And of course drinking.

When I was a senior, I announced to my friends that I was no longer going to smoke pot. I was turning over a new leaf…sort of speak. I decided it was making me too tired and lazy.

There was just one problem though: I was still being verbally abused at home and my mom had added in a touch of physical abuse to the mix. Drugs were a great way to make me forget how much that sucked. Still, I decided no more weed. That led to me saying no more hardcore drugs either! Only drinking on the weekends for this chick. I was what we call in our recovery circles, rationalizing and “white-knuckling” it.

Then, as I was about to walk on stage to get my high school diploma, someone gave me line of cocaine to celebrate. I felt euphoric. My cares melted away. I grabbed my diploma, and snorted another line. Pure bliss.

That was thirty years ago but I still remember that feeling. The way I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a girl full of confidence instead of someone who heard hurtful words just a few hours earlier. Cocaine could make my problems go away. I just needed more of it.

And how lucky did I end up? Not only did I live with a drug dealer, I got my blow for free. On most days at least. All he needed me to do was cook, clean, run some (illegal) errands, and I was rewarded with pure white powder.

I thought my life was good. I attended college, I worked, I partied, I was surrounded by friends. What more did I need? So what; our groceries were usually shoplifted by one stranger or another. The dealer shot bullet holes through the wall to kill the cockroaches he saw on the bathroom wall. My “friends” were people who drifted in and out of the flophouse I called home. My job and school were at risk because I had a habit of not showing up. My family had become a distant memory.

Maybe I wasn’t so lucky after all.

Finally, after being raided, having a shotgun pointed at my head, and seeing my friend’s painful descent into heroin addiction, I left the flophouse. The addiction followed me. I white-knuckled it again. This time I was able to stay clean much longer. That happens when you have the added incentive of a pregnancy.

However, a few months after my child was born, I slipped. It’s an easy time to remember. It was Thanksgiving weekend. We cooked up a storm. We also snorted an excessive amount of blow. Dangerous levels. All while our children were in the other room with the rest of the family laughing and having fun.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how wired I was. I couldn’t sleep. My child lay on a blanket on the floor at my feet sleeping soundly, while I frantically scraped the last of the cocaine from a scrap of paper and tried to make just one more line. When the baby woke up a little while later, I was still pinging off the walls and realized I was too afraid to pick up my own child. I was too afraid to make a bottle or change a diaper. I knew I had reached my lowest point, I had bottomed out. My child deserved better than what I was able to provide.

Somehow, I made it through. Withdrawals sucked. Again. But I felt like I deserved to feel that shitty. It was the least I could do after putting my child in harm’s way. Although that was twenty-five years ago, I can still see that baby in my mind’s-eye right now and I believe that’s what keeps me sober today. That was how I spent Black Friday twenty-five years ago. Going through withdrawals but it's a cause for celebration in my book.

Happy (almost) Sobriety Birthday to me!
 


On a lighter note: Do you have plans for Black Friday?  As for me, I’ll be staying home…and staying sober.


 
Thank you to all that served and to those that continue to serve. May God keep His watchful eye over you.

27 comments:

  1. Wow. That was a reality check and at just the right moment. May you continue to stay sober, Elsie.

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    1. Thank you, Alex. While it's a somber story, it's also one I look back on with a smile on my face because it took that day to change my life so I'm grateful for it.

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  2. Wow, eat your heart out migraine posts. You sure have been through the ringer, but still here and clear, congrats on 25 years. Guns for cockroaches? Damn.

    Black Friday isn't big up here so no trampling near.

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    1. I know right. It's been a long time since I rambled about migraines but I figured 25 years of sobriety was enough to warrant a long post. Yeah, well, the whole "Don't get high on your supply" mentality didn't apply to my dealer. He wasn't exactly stable.

      No Black Friday? Lucky!

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  3. Well done Elsie - it does sound terrible ... to me that's steered clear of drugs for my life - not the drink, but not an alcoholic one. I steer clear of addictive type things ... and I'm lucky I've the strength to do so. I feel for people who have to deal with abusive families, or people ... bullies are awful ... so glad - and congratulations on pulling yourself through and still going on helping others ... all the best Hilary

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    1. I still find it fascinating how it only took that one line of cocaine to destroy me. I believe I had to work through issues that I'd gone through and had I not, I'd either turn to drinking or something else, but that one line...I was hooked. No doubt about it. There is a line in the Big Book that says, and I'll paraphrase, "...cunning, baffling and powerful..." when it comes to drugs/alcohol. I read that and thought, "Heck yeah!" For me, I had to have help to overcome the demons within me and understand that reaching out wasn't a cause for embarrassment. I'm so glad you don't have to go through that and have the sense to stay away from those things.

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  4. Congratulations on your 25 years of sobriety. I think it's wonderful you did the right thing for your child. I have 3 siblings, all who are hardcore drug users. Unfortunately, my sister didn't have the strength to get sober for her daughter and I ended up raising her for a year. After too many relapses, my mom now has permanent custody. The drug use of all of my siblings has really ripped our family apart, so much so we no longer spend holidays together. It took me a long time to come to terms with that, but it is what it is.

    Wishing you continued success on your sobriety.

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    1. Thank you, Theresa. I'm so sorry that addiction has ripped your family apart. It breaks my heart to hear about your sister. I'm so glad you were there for your niece to help pick up the pieces. There is a special place for you and your mom in heaven. I've seen so many families being torn apart because of addiction. It's one of the reasons I keep going to meetings (although mine are now on the other side), because they keep me firmly grounded in reality. Slips are too commonplace to ignore.

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  5. One of the more interesting things about addiction that I've read says that studies are showing that the way people beat addiction is by finding purpose. Without purpose, the addict will fall back into addiction over and over again but, with purpose, the addict finds that the cravings become, I don't know, manageable? It sounds like you found your purpose.

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    1. I think you're right, Andrew. Being in a program helped guide me towards emotional sobriety which I clearly did not have, but it also led me to find a clearer purpose in my life. I grew up wanting to help others but instead got lost myself. When I was able to find my own inner peace, I wanted people in my position to find it too. That became my purpose. As I said above, it's why I keep going to my meetings/groups. They ground me and they allow me help.

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  6. What a story. So brave of you to share it. We all have our struggles in one way or another, some worse than others, and it's awesome that you've been able to conquer yours.

    BTW, I'm a jerk and I forgot to comment on your last post, but just know that I'm pantsing something of my own right now and I'm planning to e-mail you soon so I can ask your blessing for lending your likeness to one of my characters (she keeps calling to me!).

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    1. Well, as brave as one can be behind an alias ;)

      Um, no, you're a jerk because you just made me spit on my laptop screen from laughter. Not cool, bro! I am so looking forward to this email. Well, unless she's like this whiny chick who gets migraines all the time. Than not so much!

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  7. Congratulations on your silver sobriety anniversary! What a great accomplishment! Addiction is really, really bad now...so many people are dying. In droves.

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    1. Thank you, JoJo. I feel it's gotten so out of control. We as a society need to figure out a way to help addicts rather than just lock them away.

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  8. Goodness, what a journey! I'm glad you were strong enough to turn your life around.

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    1. I am too. I am eternally grateful to have gone through it though.

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  9. You are amazing! 25 years! I'm so proud of you, doll.
    I know many people who cleaned up their act for their children's sake.
    Love you.

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    1. Children are an amazing inspiration for so many. They continue to be mine. Love you too!

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  10. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. Congratulations on your chemical sobriety! I hope you do something small, at least, to celebrate. (And I totally understand staying home that day. I will be, too!)

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    1. Thank you, Shannon. I will do a little something for myself that day and also something for someone in the program. It helps me to help others. It's a good reminder of where I came from and where I can still go.

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  11. Huge congrats on your quarter of a century - that is some achievement.

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    1. Thanks, Graham. Although, when you say it that way...it makes me feel so old! *smiles*

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  12. Congrats on your amazing and courageous journey ~ May it continue to be filled with love and hope ~

    Take care Elsie and all the best ~

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  13. Amazing. Wow. That baby is probably the thing that saved your life. Way to go, working up from such a dark place. You are inspiring.

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    1. I have to agree with you. Looking down at my child that day, I knew I had messed up and needed to right the ship. That baby changed my life.

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  14. You have an amazing story. Thank you for sharing it. I admire that you were able to pull through for the sake of your child. Congrats on your upcoming sobriety anniversary. That is awesome!

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