Thursday, January 29, 2015

Addiction: You Tricky Bastard

Addiction is tricky.  It’s the only disease I know of that tries to convince me that I don’t have a disease.  It has no memory of pain.  It terrorized me and talked at me all day and all night.  Then it beat me up emotionally and physically when I would give in to it. Then I did exactly the same thing the next day, and the next, and the next. Before I knew it, I was right where I started – full of self hatred and shame. 

Work was tense.  I was overwhelmed with fear that everyone knew that I had a drinking problem.  One day I decided to ease my anxiety the only way I knew how.  I had a glass of wine at lunch.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Of course, I chose to do it the same day I had an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) meeting with the therapist that was totally on to me.  She immediately knew.  I was given a breathalyzer and it did not register a 0.  I was immediately suspended without pay for 30 days.  In order to keep my job, I had to agree to attend an intensive outpatient program while I was off.

I was already attending Gateway in Cranberry 3 nights a week.  It was totally lost on me.  I did nothing to change.  I would just wait for it to end each night and then go directly to the Cranberry Wine and Spirits store that was open until 10 pm. 

Immediately, I was able to step up to partial in-patient treatment – the folks at Gateway knew I wasn’t well.  Partial in-patient treatment is typically 5 days a week for 4 or 5 hours a day.  It consists of lots of group therapy, lots of raw sharing, and hopefully, lots of honesty.

Again, I was using fear to keep me sober.  I participated.  I read what they wanted me read.  I said what they wanted me to say.   I smiled and laughed and pretended.  I met my first “sponsor” there.  It was the day I reeked of alcohol and they called for outside supports to come get me out of there, drive me home and dump out all the wine in my house.  There was just nothing that could keep me sober.  The kids were still in Canada.  At least I knew they were safe.

I managed to get a few weeks of sobriety together and “graduate” from the program.  One by one people in my group wished me well and gave me a shiny coin.  I was headed back to work.  I drove up to Toronto and picked up M and E.  I was so happy so have them home!  They were singing, “Oh, Canada” and saying, “x,y, Zed”.

As part of my 2nd last chance agreement with the corporation, I agreed to random drug testing.  At any given moment the nurse could call my supervisor and he would then send me to the medical department for a breathalyzer.  I was annoyed by it, but thankful I had a job.  

Not even 30 days later, I was having wine with dinner – which led to a bottle, then another.  I was so paranoid everyday.  I was always trying to calculate how much I could drink and when I had to stop and how much water it would take to dilute it based on how much I weighed and if there was a full moon that night, etc.– thinking I could beat the breathalyzer if need be.

One day my direct supervisor and his supervisor were both out of town.  The medical department called a co-worker of mine, a lateral co-worker,, to have them send me for the breathalyzer. My supervisor, his supervisor, HR and the medical staff were the only people who were supposed to know of this “arrangement”.  I was furious and embarrassed.  That was pretty much all it took for me to go ahead and throw that job away.

That evening I was so angry, I stayed up most of the night and drank the way I wanted to.  The next morning I was called down to medical.  The reading was not a 0.  I was done. Terminated. I left the building, went directly to the wine store and then unenrolled M and E from daycare.

It was easy to justify.  Corporate America wasn’t a good fit for me anyway…      

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Fear Can Not Keep Me Sober

Trying to kill the pain of whatever it is that aches in you will eventually kill you. 

I woke up in the ER confused, dirty, bloody and connected to tubes with absolutely no memory of how I got there.  I immediately started to pull needles out of my arms and try to get up.  One of my sister’s was already there trying to calm me down.  Nurses were saying I needed to have an MRI.  Apparently, one of my pupils was dilated and one was not.  I didn’t know what happened, but I knew it was bad.  All I could think was I had to go pick up M and E.

It was bad.  Everyone knew.  I was terrified.  I was embarrassed.  I was ashamed.  I was sick.

The next morning I was on my way to a drug and alcohol treatment center in Wilkinsburg.  My sister came down from Canada and scooped M and E back with her, thankfully.  My work knew I was in an accident and needed to be hospitalized.  I hoped that was all they knew. 

I agreed to 28 days of inpatient treatment after they agreed I could call the kids everyday.  I knew they were safe, but I had to hear their voices.  (They were 3.5 and 6 at that point.)   

After about 3 days of a Librium detox for acute alcohol withdraw, I started the actual rehab. 

I actually said, “OMG.  Where am I?  I have been misplaced!”  The response from the staff was basically, have a seat – you are right where you belong.

All I wanted was out.  I felt I didn’t need that kind of prison like counseling.  I thought my only problem was that my husband died and I was sad.  I was smart, I was educated, I had a good job, I had great kids – this was not for me.

I was there because I was afraid.  I was afraid to lose M and E.  I was afraid to lose my job.  I was afraid of the legal consequences I was about to face.  So, I read what they told me to read.  I said what they wanted to hear, but I was there for the wrong reasons.

I talked my way into leaving a few days early.  I went back to work.  I agreed to go to out patient in the evenings.  I picked up the kids.

I did nothing to change.

I don’t think I got past 35 days before I had another drink and was right back in my pathetic pattern.

I would soon find out - what one puts in front of their recovery – one will lose.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Headed Toward the Rabbit Hole

The humiliation and fear didn't last long.  It just didn’t sting enough, I suppose.  I obtained a lawyer through a friend, paid a fine and lost my license for three months.  Once a year was up, it would be gone and no one needed to know.  So, I continued to do what I was doing – drinking as if there were no consequences – as if I didn’t hurt or inconvenience anyone – as if I wasn’t killing myself.

Work was horrid.  I was sick everyday.  I couldn’t concentrate or care.  I was constantly late and unproductive.  I was pouring sweat by every afternoon going into withdrawal.  Thankfully, there was always someone to go downstairs to the bar with at 5 o’clock.  Once I had that glass in my hands I knew relief was close.

The only person I was fooling was me.  Obviously, there was only so much my boss was going to put up with.  HR was not happy either.  I was put on a last chance contract.  Part of that deal was I had to regularly see the EAP counselor.  I was actually already seeing her on my own because of the grief.  She was completely on to my alcoholism, but now she had me.  I had to see her and take her suggestions or lose my job.

“Go to a ‘what’ kind of meeting?!?!  You've got me confused with someone who has a drinking problem.  My problem is that I’m depressed.”    

That was my response and answer for everything, “You’d be sad, too”, “You’d be depressed, too”, “You’d drink, too” – if it happened to you.

I continued on like this for months - sick every day, paranoid, fearful, angry, sad and all around unpleasant. It was this tedious suicide plan that was taking way too long to work. 

Every day I was hanging on by my finger nails to get through.  All I could think about was that drink waiting for me at home.  It’s what could make everything go away.  (foreshadowing!)

Anniversaries of anything Rich would be my favorite excuse to do nothing toward growth or healing and wallow in my pity party.  January was usually the time I’d become completely unglued and I could once again blame his death for my reckless behavior.

Two years had gone by since I got the DUI.  Not that that has anything to do with anything.  I changed nothing.

It was a Tuesday and my mother in law picked up M and E from daycare.  My plan after work was to limit myself to two glasses of wine with co-workers, get a hair cut and then pick up the kids.

I woke up in the emergency room on my way to a MRI…