Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Nothing Changes If Nothing Changes

One who does not understand addiction may make such comments as, “Just don’t drink.”, “Just have two and stop”, “Just smoke pot”, or “Don’t you love your kids?”

The latter is the worst one.  Of course, I love my children – Rich’s children.  My love for them can be painful.  I know what they lost.  They lost the sweetest guy in the world.  I imagine all the would have been and the what should have been – all the laughs, the love, the jokes, the hugs, the silliness. All gone.

If the love I have for my children was the cure, I wouldn’t have a disease. 

Addiction doesn’t work that way.  Addiction ultimately wants one thing from me – my life.  Addiction is cunning, baffling and powerful.  It’s sneaky.  It started out by taking away my fear – if only for a few hours at a time.  Then it made me chase it.  It made me believe I needed it.  It made me beg for it and be consumed by it.  Soon, it was all I could think about.  Soon, it was all I wanted.  Soon, it took priority. 

Slowly, it turned on me.  As I gave it everything, it took more. It took my money.  It took my common sense.  It took my personality.  It took my self-worth.  It took my self-respect.  It took my self-esteem. 

It left behind wreckage and carnage, pain, tears, loathing and a dismal life hardly worth living.  It left me vulnerable to predators.      

Winter 2010 - 2011

The boyfriend thought I needed to stay busy and talked me into working at his law practice.  I was nearly dysfunctional.  I did not want to, but I figured I couldn’t get away with sitting at home feeling sorry for myself any longer.

I was answering his phone and mailing his letters.  I was filing motions at the courthouse (which was kinda fun).  However, resentments began to spring up because I knew this wasn’t what I was gifted to do.  I have a master’s degree, but I was so depleted I could barely turn on the computer let alone put together a resume and job hunt – or speak to another human!  I’m sure I was not hirable.

I would leave mid day to go to noon recovery meetings downtown.  I still had no license so I had to take a bus into the city (when we stayed at home) and one back in time to get the kids off the school bus.  I hated it and became more and more resentful. 

He also wanted me to support and be involved with his pro-marijuana “cause”.  Um, really?  I’m an addict.

I am 100% in favor of legalizing marijuana.   I don’t see the need to list my reasons.

However, it is absolutely derelict for one to claim it is not addictive.  Addictive personalities will abuse it, wreck their cars and neglect their children under its influence.  A drug is a drug is a drug.  Period.  If you aren’t an addict – enjoy!  If you are – be prepared for the consequences.

As for this addict, when I left the office to go to a meeting, I soon slipped into the bar around the corner instead.  For a few minutes there was relief from all the irritants and resentments.  I’d go back to the office glassy eyed and pretend I was doing the next right thing.  On my way to catch the bus home I’d stop at the Wine and Spirits and buy the biggest bottle of wine I could fit in my backpack, thinking, “This should get me through the evening.”

A typical evening would look something like this.  The six (or 4 depending on the week) of us would go out to dinner.  He’d drink his (at least) two martinis AT me.  He’d comment on how it was pathetic that I couldn’t enjoy a glass or two of wine and be happy.  He’d tell me how unsupportive I was because I didn’t embrace his marijuana advocacy.  He’d tell me he was important and needed to be able to drink to turn off his brain.  He’d tell me he was a catch for someone like me.   He’d bark at my children.  After dinner, the kids and I would go to his apartment for the night.  He’d go into his bathroom and smoke a joint.  At least when he came out he wasn’t as mean.  Festering resentments…

I had a ruse I pulled quite often.  I would say I needed Diet Coke.  He’d give me the keys to his car and I’d drive to the Giant Eagle on Murray Avenue.  I’d park in the lot and walk across the street to a restaurant and order a drink at the bar.  I’d drink two or three as fast as I could.  I’d then run into the store, grab the soda and go back to the apartment feeling satisfied.  Often, I’d stop at the liquor store and sneak a bottle back with me.  I’d pretend I couldn’t sleep and stay out in the living room all night to drink it.

A Wednesday night in February was particularly irritating.  I left with his car (remember, no license) to get Diet Coke.  That time I went too far.  I have no idea how many drinks I had, how much money I spent or how I got back to his place.

I work up with a screaming headache, ripped jeans and bloody knees.  He was a hue of purple that I had never seen before.  I scrambled and gathered my kids’ things together and ran outside to load the car to get them back to the North Hills in time for school.  No car.  NO CAR!  I lost the man’s car!  Oh. My. God.

I didn’t even know what to say.  So, I said, “I’ll be right back.”  I ran the whole way down to the Giant Eagle crying.  Thankfully, the car was where I parked it and I had the keys!  Thank God I didn’t drive that car the night before.

If I learned anything from my mother, it’s – if you don’t talk about it, it doesn’t exist.  We drove to the kids’ school in silence.  I could feel the heat of his anger.

I had to go inside the school to sign the kids in because they were late.  I was a visible mess.  The principal followed me out the door and asked me if I was ok.  I was truthful and told her that I relapsed.  She thought I was drinking that morning, but I assured her it was the night before.  She asked if the boyfriend was also drinking.  I said he had his usual martinis at dinner.

He dropped me off at home and I figured our relationship was over.  I went in and passed out.

I’m sure I found my way to another bottle of wine before the kids got home.  I don’t even know if I talked to the boyfriend that night.  I was probably hiding and hoping it would pass - as it usually did.

The next morning, Friday, I got the kids on the school bus.  I had the shakes and dry heaves as usual.  I drank a glass of wine to take the edge off and went back to bed.

I was roused by knocking at my door about an hour later.  I looked out the window and saw two women.  I assumed they were Jehovah’s Witnesses and ignored them.

When they were gone I went down to find a notice taped on my door.

Allegheny County was taking immediate and emergency custody of my children.  

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

No Pill, No Person, No Prayer - Could Make Me Whole

Note to self: tell ONLY my story! 

In recovery we know that resentments will kill us.  As much as I wanted to blame the boyfriend for things getting worse, it wasn’t his fault.  My turmoil, my demons and my pain were mine and mine alone.  Broken promises and shortcomings of another person didn’t do this to me.  I did it. I would allow things I didn’t like to fester.  I made things worse.  I allowed my illness to perpetuate.  I learned people will treat you the way you allow them to.

My healing must include forgiveness, but more importantly, I need to recognize my role in the ridiculousness. I was in this alone. A savior did not exist.

Summer 2010 – Fall 2010

I had a CYS case open.  I had 2 social workers from Holy Family assigned to me and a CYS case worker.  Humiliating.

The boyfriend forgave me and loved me again.  The kids and I mostly stayed at his place because it was walking distance to my out patient treatment at Gateway in Squirrel Hill. I still had no driver’s license.  I stayed with the kids during the day and he stayed with them the 3 evenings a week I went to treatment.  This was my second outpatient treatment following my second inpatient and 1 partial hospitalization treatments.  He promised he wouldn’t drink either.  He promised he’d stay sober and support my recovery.

I thought maybe I should take an antidepressant.  That just might do the trick!  

I had an inkling of joining a church.  I had no idea where that was coming from.  I spent years seething and outraged that God took Rich Rust from me and the kids.  My thoughts of God were mostly malicious.  

I wanted a quick fix.  I wanted someone or something else to do the work for me.  Please, just fix me...

I did not fully participate in my own recovery.  I don’t think more than 30 days passed before I was back at it – the sneaking, the lying, the drinking, the mental abuse and the self pity.  I was angry that recovery didn’t come easy.  I was angry that I had to recover at all!  I was angry the feelings just wouldn’t go away.

I was tested for alcohol almost daily at outpatient.  One of the counselors would hand me a test strip that I was to put in my mouth.  I would flip it in upside down so the treated end would not go into my mouth.  Then I’d flip it back to him.  Negative.  I was so clever I fooled myself.

The folks at rehab were not fools, however.  They knew all the tricks and heard all the lies of a desperate addict.  I was diluted.  I still blamed everything on Rich’s death.  It was so far beyond that.

The lead counselor finally called me and said enough.  I could die or I could get well, but he was done.  My fear was he’d report to CYS that I was using and they’d take the kids.  At his insistence, I stepped up to partial hospitalization, again.  (Partial = 5 days a week at rehab.)

I went through the motions.  I showed up.  I wrote my chemical history.  I wrote my own obituary.  I watched “Clean and Sober”, “The Days of Wine and Roses” and “28 Days”.  I shared.  I confessed.  I cried.  I promised.  I journaled.  I listened.  I empathized.  I abstained.  Finally, I successfully “graduated”.  All of this was – AGAIN.      

CYS closed my case.  No more problem.