Getting Clean: Peaks and Valleys (Part III)

This is the third post in a five-part series discussing addiction, recovery [relapse], and long-term sobriety. As I celebrate five substance-free years, I am taking the time to [publicly] look back at where I really was in the months preceding my “clean date”, how I got to where I am now, and the ongoing implications of sobriety in my life today. While I’m not secretive about being sober, it isn’t a facet of myself that often comes up in any area of life. This is something I’ve decided it is time to change.

Part 1: Addiction
Part 2: Life or Death

Peaks and Valleys: This installment is perhaps hardest for me. It feels rawest, most desperate. My mind has cleared a little and there are glimpses of something better. And it’s scary. Because I still fucked up. Because I defaulted to playing games. Because suddenly someone else was on the scene. That link (and the one further into the post) goes to the telling of how my husband and I met. Which was amidst all this chaos. To have some understanding as to the state of my life illuminates some undertones and “unspokens” of our story.

In many ways he saved me. In others Dot did. You may be counting the months between her recent 4th birthday and my five years of sobriety. I’ll make it easy; I was three weeks sober when I found out I was pregnant. While a baby didn’t get me clean, I don’t doubt she kept me there.

But. Still. Always. You can’t save an addict that doesn’t want to be saved. You can’t help someone who isn’t ready. I, as I think these writings show, was desperate for different. And I had been for awhile.

The then there is relapse. Kind of a tricky topic. I do believe that relapse is a part of recovery and I think we can learn so much from the falling-off-and-getting-back-on process. Assuming one makes it through the falling off. Especially with opioids, the risk of overdose goes through the roof where relapse in concerned. Lethality aside, relapse after a period of clean time is far superior to never having gained any “time” at all. No time away from the direct day-in-and-day-out effects of one’s substance of choice means no clarity, no perspective, little sanity, and a very loose grasp on reality. Even a clean couple of days can straighten out just a bit some of what appears hopelessly skewed.

That being said, I hate it when “relapse as part of recovery” is so heavily touted that it creates an excuse or–worse–expectation. Relapse is not necessary. There will be plenty’o’relapse in anyone’s recovery by way of the company we inevitably keep. We are free to learn from the experience of others; no need to test all the waters ourselves. Relapse need not be a prerequisite to anyone’s “true” sobriety.

July 21, 2006 near midnight

Three weeks today. I miss it.

I’m on the cusp. Foundation is shifting. Or crumbling. Tragedy, or trials, or triumph can only follow. I think I’m almost strong enough to exert the effort. Hopefully my mindset will this time coincide with circumstance. I so want to thrive. I so want to offer and affect. To be embraced.

I’m delighted at the possibility of discovering The One. Paralyzingly terrified of becoming immersed. Hurt can only strengthen, and to live in paranoid avoidance constitutes as no such thing. And so morally, logically and instinctively, I must surrender the fear of emotions. Allow the loneliness to encompass because, only as it mothers and demands acknowledgment, can it become painful enough to pursue relief in a more permanent, dependable and efficient method.

I’m sick of running and tired of denying the inevitable and the actual. I want to put down roots. I long to stand tall and, in my convictions, grown firm. It’s possibly becoming my time to thrive.

July 24, 2006 4:40am [Relapse]

I’m lost. I know exactly where I am, my surroundings are familiar, but I know not where to go. No, I lie. I know to head towards health and hope. The question is how. How do I get there? Where do I begin? I’ve spent so much time weighing the possibilities and assessing my limited abilities. Fuck projections, it’s time to act!

Life, I must embrace. Risks, welcome. I just want to be okay. I just want to feel safe. I just want to know happy. I’m not satisfied to taste love. I need to trainwreck myself into some clarity. As if that were an acceptable verb. The walls dance. The sounds hum. The visceral swirls. Stability eludes and the break in sanity is welcomed. Sought and embraced but always somewhat feared.

Double vision makes me smile…and the memories it brings. How did I function like this? If life at [then] could be referred to as such. . . . how did I come to this?

– – – – – –

4:52am 

I am so much better than the unsatisfying pursuit of fleeting illusions. Why can’t I grasp this concept? Integrate this truth? Now will soon be then and instant gratification only results in when? Escape the cycle! Ease the indulgence.

I want to change. I want freedom. I so want a life unencumbered. Reality plays out and circumstances ensue.

– I can’t allow derailment –

I’ll plan the trip, if you offer advice you’ve obtained. I’ll buy the ticket and show up to the station. My entrance may be chaotic, my presence conspicuous. I might need help packing, now that I think of it. But the burden, the weight of my luggage, I will bear. Just tell me how. Please come take my hand. Send me off with love, if you cannot accompany me along the way.

I will make it. Stick around, you’ll see.

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