Updated: Oct 18, 2020
An addict never stops using because they dislike their drug(s) of choice. If addiction were stoppable with the ease of distaste then we would all be sober. I never put down the meth because I didn’t love it anymore. She still sang to me from the back halls of a familiar home. I realized that her song just didn’t titillate my ears the way it used to. The loss was too great when faced with her love and so, I released.
Well, maybe I spent five trips of rehab and some years of therapy releasing but, I released her. I never knew she would release in me something worse. Something I had only experienced briefly in my adult life: authentic emotions.
I was an active addict for most of my teenage years and into my early twenties. Meth was my vice of choice. A childhood of trauma drove her icy white body right into my arms. She offered a gift sweeter than any fruit: the ability to forget.
I wanted to forget the abuse. I wanted to forget the way he made me feel when his hands violated my body. I wanted to forget the hole my mother left with her denial and silence. I couldn’t manage these feelings anymore. The only other option considered was to cease existing. I was looking for an outlet to no longer feel but still, live.
Boy, I found that in her. She whisked away my emotions and twirled me on her dance floor of deception for many years. We tangoed into the sunset of regret every time I stole from a family member. She and I danced the cha-cha after the scene that unfolded the night I shot a man in a methamphetamine haze. All the while my emotions floated in limbo above and around me, but never inside of me.
My ballroom of addiction had finally provided the level of forgetfulness that lead me to begin using in the first place. Anxiety and sadness melted away. My guilt and shame faded into the recesses of my mind. Most importantly, regret found no home in me. I no longer had to sit with the fifty-pound weight called regret on my chest each morning. I just opened my eyes and stayed high until they closed again. Meth being a drug of the upper kind my eyes stayed open more than they closed anyways.
Then I got sober. After eight years of using, making, selling, and transporting methamphetamines I laid my dancing queen to rest. Her icy complexion was no longer providing me the relief she once did. It took ten days to sweat her beauty from my system. This came with the familiar friend I had been trying to avoid for so long: authentic emotion.
I spent months sorting through memories and the feelings tied to those memories. I had to confront my childhood trauma at the same time as coming to terms with the atrocities I had done while using. This sent me spiraling into a years-long battle with depression and severe anxiety. I visited more therapists than I care to admit. I leaned on those in my life for support. Most of them were kind and compassionate about the help I needed.
About this point in the story, I can anticipate that many are thinking “God, this is a tragedy.”
No, this is a rebirth. This is a painful, vulnerable state of living that I would have died without experiencing. Instead of death, I made it through to the glorious light at the end of a never ending tunnel.
And I stayed f*&*#$g sober.
I experienced levels of depression and grief that felt deeper than the Marianas Trench. I stayed sober. I lost friends and loved ones to that girl I loved once. I stayed sober. I began attending therapy and unfolding the layers of my childhood trauma and abuse. I stayed sober. I watched relationships fail as I flailed around searching for how to allow love in. I stayed sober.
As can you. It is hard. Think of the hardest thing you have ever done. Multiply that by 2 and I would say this is a fair comparison to removing drugs and/or alcohol from your life. I am not a doctor, a healer nor a specialist in any way, shape, or form. I am an addict who is celebrating 8 years of sobriety in January who hopes sharing what worked for her, helps even just one of you.
If you think, for a second, that you will get clean and stay clean alone, you might as well just skip the quitting part and keep on trucking. That is harsh because this is the most important part of sobriety. Yes, AA and NA are out there and have been tried and true to so many for years. Do not let these meetings be the reason you do not get or stay clean because so many will tell you this is the only way. You can lean on interest related support groups, church groups, and find new groups on websites like Meetup.com.
AA and NA didn’t work for me. Something else began my journey to sobriety.
Find Strength in Your Breath
I sat down for my first meditation practice a tad over three years ago, five years into my sobriety. As mentioned above, the intensity of my emotions is what ultimately led to my first experience with drugs. I no longer held the reigns when it came to my anxiety. This would then spiral into anger and irritability followed closely by a crushing depression.
So, I sat down and tried to breathe through my emotions. It lasted about two minutes the first time. This is not an exaggeration nor a deterrent. Meditation is meant to quiet your mind and focus all your thoughts and energy into the hear and now. What many forget to tell you is this will not happen for a while after you begin a regular practice.
That is okay. The key here is to TRY and quiet your mind and thoughts. Not YOU MUST quiet your mind and thoughts. Be prepared for these meditative practices to bring up some possibly intense emotions. When we finally sit with ourselves in the silence of our mind, those forgotten memories that day to day life pushes out creep back in. Do not worry if you stray off the path and begin to let your mind wander. Continue coming back to the count and feeling of your breath for as long as you can stand it. Then do it again, and again and again until it sticks.
Find the Truth in Your Addict Persona
If getting sober is on your short to-do list, you must accept you are an addict. This was probably the toughest step I had to endure. I was always that addict who wasn’t “that” addict. My addiction existed but I wasn’t like “them.” This led me to believe that my using was okay because it wasn’t messy and destructive.
If you happen to hold down a job or some semblance of normalcy in your life but still are using then you are no better than anyone else partaking in that sweet ladies goodies. You are simply a functioning addict. But, when you really take a look at your life, how well are you truly functioning? You do not need to be homeless or performing grand theft auto to fit into the proper addict persona that needs help.
Accept you are an addict. Tell yourself you are an addict. Dig up every dirty, rotten memory that lovely lady holds and remind yourself these deeds were done by an addict. It is only a title to run from if you are living up to its name.
Will this get you sober? No, only you can do that.
Will this keep you sober? No, only you can do that.
What I hope this does is gift you with the knowledge that you are not alone. I hope this encourages you to take your last dance in the ballroom sooner rather than later. When the music stops on your addiction and the lights come on, I hope to find you on the other side of life, not death.
You are not alone. You are not dirty or shameful. You are not broken or worthless. You are worthy. You are human and entitled to compassion and kindness. Above all, you are a dancing queen parading through the ballroom of life. I hope you decide today to two-step into sobriety.