Thursday, November 12, 2009

light bulbs... in the darkness

Sometimes life is just hard. Questions come and answers hide. That is what it feels like to me anyway. Are they really hiding or am I just not looking. The last two days have presented a sort of epiphany, following atypical events in my life. The first event is that I took oxycontin. Did I use oxycontin? no. I was given 1 in the emergency room because a filling came out of my wisdom tooth and the nerve was exposed. I haven't felt the "high" of a pain pill or any other substance in a long time. In my life, I had never had an oxy before nor tried heroin. As many of you know crystal meth was my drug of choice.

It was an awful experience. The feeling was awful. The lack of control and the fuzziness of my emotions that came along with the physical pain relief were AWFUL. As my husband was sitting there talking to me it was like I just faded out. He said I just fell asleep mid sentence.

After getting home, and the effects wearing off, I  started feeling even worse than while affected by the oxy, and almost felt like I'd rather take another one than feel so icky. Frightening. How could I already feel like I wanted something that actually made me feel bad? I realize that I likely would not have mentally wanted to continue using oxy's or heroin, had I tried them in the past, because it is not a feeling I like, but I was so shocked that after just one, I could feel slight feelings of withdrawal and the need to make it go away.

I also started thinking a lot about addiction (probably TOO much) ...thinking about the oxy epidemic that is overcoming kids and leading to the cheaper side kick- heroin. Thinking about meth and its target group.

Different people use for different reasons. When I started using, I was not at that point in my life where it was so dark and frightening that I wanted to make it go away. Had I tried oxy's or heroin at THAT time, I may have actually liked it and cannot imagine trying to battle both the mental and physical addiction and the underlying emotional issues to get myself out of that dark and frightening place where my mind existed.

Meth affected me in a different way. I started using when I was blacked out drunk (nice huh). I don't even remember getting to the house we (we being my husband and I- everytime I used he was with me) were at, and I sort of "came to" hitting a glass meth pipe. Meth has that effect since it is an upper and alcohol is a downer.  I had never even SEEN a glass pipe before. None of it made sense., but it still felt ok. Such is the demon of the drug. Everything feels good. I continued using because coming down always started to feel so horrible and I was scared I could not properly care for my kids if I allowed myself to go to sleep in a "tweaker coma."

It was always "Just one more time and then I'll keep take care of the so you can come down and then you stop and I can come down."  Or, "Just enough to get through the work week and then I will sleep on my days off and come down and then I will watch the kids for a few days so you can come down."

Well he was not the father of my children and it was a new relationship, and although I disgustingly rationalized how I was still a good mother while using, I could not bring myself to let him be alone with my kids while I slept off a tweaking binge. After all we were using drugs together and so what did that tell me about him really? Not enough to sleep for days and leave him to watch my children. At least I had a SHRED of judgement left.

I endlessly promised myself I would find a way to quit and come down (for those of you that don't know, the effects of coming of of meth are extreme, physically and emotionally and don't lend themselves to caring for small children). I continued on this path because aside form the guilt that I knew what I was doing was wrong, it still felt good. I had energy. I kept the house spotless. I had a new sudden confidence in myself and in my ability to communicate with people. It was all fine until the high wore off and every attempt to stop felt like suicide.

Dealing with the way the oxy had made me feel, I was reliving all of my experiences and affirming why I am clean. Then today I had another experience. My husband's uncle came over so I could put some movies on his Ipod. He is in a halfway house for charges just like the ones I had, but he didn't learn the first time and so he got hard time. He is also one of our ex using associates. At one point he was the fine line between friend or foe... he was our dealer and in so many ways enabled us. He "fronted" us drugs, helped us pay off utilities when we had shut off notices, came just in the nick of time to provide Christmas for the kids when we had spent all of our money on drugs, brought groceries when he knew we needed them... What a disgusting cycle it was.

How distressing, that in the face of our addictions we could watch someone destroy themselves and us, and because of the nature of the "drug life," we could allow ourselves that codependent relationship.

So today is when Uncle P was here and he is active in his recovery as well. I have a hard time knowing if it is because he HAS to, to not go back to prison or because he wants to. It really isn't my problem because we do have strict boundaries now. He already asked if he could parole to our house. Uhm nope. Sorry. (I am so proud of myself that I can say that, mean it, and have NO guilt!)

Well today he kind of randomly asked me if I ever miss getting high. Of course I Do. There are many many good memories and long conversations that staying up for 3 days at a time with friends and family produced. Being that some of those memories were with him, made it a little harder to swallow. I wasn't sure if he was asking because he wants affirmation that its ok to miss it or to see if I am on the same page in case he is lining up potential "connections" for when he gets off paper... I ultimately decided it didn't really matter. We have to keep ourselves at a safe distance- period. After taking him to the halfway house, I started thinking a lot about enabling. I have asked myself so many times how people LET us get that bad? Why no one helped?

I was in a dark place as I was thinking about it. I was living in a nostalgic moment of the glory days of getting high and actually missing it (this all in the drive home from the halfway house). Then a light bulb went on. No one DID anything because there was nothing to do. Not helping anymore IS what helped us. We did have to want it badly enough for ourselves. I had always looked up to Uncle P. For a while it seemed he was on top of the world with (drug) money and yet he still came to help us. I have kept a soft spot for him because I felt he was always there. I wanted to return the favor and be there for him.  I do know that he meant well (for the kids sake) by what he did, but he still was acting with an addict's mind.

I don't think we are the right people to be doing him little favors right now. I am not sure of his progress in his recovery. I do not need a relationship with him enough right now to risk it. I realize that not being there for him right now is the best thing I can do for him and for myself.

The lights just kept coming on. Its like I walked into a dark house and started running though it switching on lights. I feel really good about all of these things. The yucky feeling of the oxy is completely wearing off. I have no desire to fix anything with anything other than food for my soul. It was very insightful for me to get this look back inside my life as an addict. Sometimes I am so far removed from it, I forget how far I have come.

It was also a big realization for me to really understand how even a little bit of enabling can make an addict comfortable enough to continue using. I have been following along with many of you parents of addicts and was struggling to see it from a parents perspective and come to my own conclusions about enabling a child (even an adult child). The line between loving your child and helping them create recovery is so fine.

Just as little comforts in jail (a letter, a snack, a visit) make something rather unbearable tolerable, little comforts in life can make addiction tolerable. I can see (cause the lights are now ON and I am not in a dark place) how an addict needs total isolation and despair to find their inner fight.

Thank you to all of you parents and addicts who share your perspective and hope to help others. Today I am humbled by new reflections and my journey in recovery continues...

A sensible man will remember that the eyes may be confused in two ways - by a change from light to darkness or from darkness to light; and he will recognize that the same thing happens to the soul.  ~Plato

In a profound sense every man has two halves to his being; he is not one person so much as two persons trying to act in unison.  I believe that in the heart of each human being there is something which I can only describe as a "child of darkness" who is equal and complementary to the more obvious "child of light."  ~Laurens van der Post

Light, when suddenly let in, dazzles and hurts and almost blinds us: but this soon passes away, and it seems to become the only element we can exist in.  ~Augustus William Hare and Julius Charles Hare


  1. Thanks for sharing ALL of this here. I've told you how much I admire you for so many reasons! One is that you DID get off the meth and you ARE a wonderful mother and a very wise person. Thanks for what you said about enabling. I know I lean too far on the enabling side often and have three more months to get it together before my son comes home.
    I am going to link to this today in hopes that many of the other parents of addicts read it too. Its so helpful to hear from the perspective of someone who's experienced drug addiction.

  2. Although I have to be at work in 40 minutes, I just finished reading every one of your posts. I was mesmerized. I am most amazed by the wisdom you have gained from your life and your experiences (the good ones, the bad ones and the indifferent ones).

    Your children have a loving mama and together, you and Bryson figured out what really is important in life and you went out and got it.

    I want to thank you for providing me insight into my son's addiction (oxy to heroine) and to my thoughts and feelings as a mom. You highlight both in your experiences. I'm old in comparison (52 this year) and only have the one son, and I'm continuing to learn from you and everyone else in this amazing blogger community. By the way, you are a wonderful writer, and I'm excited about your upcoming travel adventure with your family. Prays to you and yours.

  3. Lots of reminders in this post for me. I remember all the promises to myself that I would quit too...
    I'm so glad you're in recovery. Isn't it amazing how differently we see things now when we look back. Getting healthy sure gives you a different perspective.
    And good for you for not allowing Uncle P to parole at your house, AND for skipping the guilt.
    ((hugs)) I appreciate you!

  4. I read this post last night. It was and is enlightening to read your experience. My experience is dealing with the people in my childhood and a few in my adult life who have been addicted to substance. Your experience gives me this deep down in my gut HOPE. REALLY BIG HOPE and I thank you for being so blatantly honest about your life and what you have lived and continue to live. Thank you.