There are reasons that many individuals chose drugs. Not only do they feel good, the alternative can be a blend of emotions that swirl into a potent cocktail of misery. I am not shy about my mental health issues. While many days are fucking fabulous, there are also many days like the one I recount below. I am attempting to give a broader picture of whys of drug use.
I make myself a second cup of tea. The first is for the dose of caffeine. The second is combat dehydration. This is the height of self care for today. I check my phone for the twentieth time this hour. No texts. No calls. No social media likes telling me that I am a likeable. I feel myself leaning into that spiral that only ends at an emotional bottom worthy of suicidal ideation and dark chocolate. The self loathing has started again. I am forty six years old, I tell myself. Why do I give a flying fuck about the opinions of others. Yet I do. I absolutely do. If it isn’t a comment under my picture then I am wondering why my article didn’t get a hundred shares. Why didn’t the person on the train acknowledge my attempt to squeeze by them. Why didn’t my co-worker see my name on that project. I am taken aback by my what I feel is my own shallow need for approval. Aren’t I above this? Despite all my efforts fuck it level of independence, I am filled with the gripping feeling that tells me I only exist if I am seen through your eyes.My curves and track marks and imperfections can only be relieved by a few gentle words from a random stranger. I am not waiting on the connection this time. I am waiting to CONNECT.
They told me I needed to work a “program of recovery”. They not being one person, but the collective “they”, the voices that started to replace my own in what they called my “diseased mind”. I would lay in bed at night for hours wondering how I was going to make it through the rest of my very very long life without another drink or dose of that sweet misery wrapped in the form of intoxication. This life, the sober life, I was finding is part miracle and part prison. I had been naive. I thought taking away substances would be the solution to the problem I knew was myself. However, when the chemical veil is completely pulled away, I am left with an overwhelming dread known frequently as my mere existence. My feeling self loves kittens, rainbows, and the joy that comes from not stabbing the soles of my feet with syringes. My brain has different ideas. The world inside my mind spins on an axis of criticism. It is working against my best efforts at acceptance by chiming a chorus of my mistakes whenever I stop long enough to give it a listen.
I catch myself feeling alone. If only I looked like her. If only I had what he has. If only I would have stopped, stopped before I was willing to suck a dick with my knees on wet newspaper between two cars as the sunlight barely trickled over the horizon. The collective “they” is incapable of understanding me. Even worse, why do I care what anyone else thinks? As I twist myself into a familiar miserable cycle, I hold my coffee cup a little tighter willing it to make me disappear into a pool of fuck you. I trail off into my unconscious, I remember what “they” tell me over and over. “You belong here”. I belong in a fucked up set of diseased individuals- addicts? That doesn’t seem comforting. As I walk out of the 12 step meeting, one of the men in the program graciously offers me his embrace. I feel the back of his hand quickly and deliberately brush against my breasts as he reaches for my neck. I guess I should feel grateful someone gives me the kind of attention I secretly know I deserve.
I shuffle through my life with crippling doubts. “They” say that I feel “terminally unique”. Is it all jargon, more drinking of the kool aid. All these catch-phrases designed to make me feel included have a tendency to make me feel more isolated. In 12 step, to become part of the collective “they”, we give up surrender some of our individuality for the sake of belonging. As a woman with a shadowy past, my history avails itself on a daily basis. The brief smell of vinegar as I pass by the fish and chips place reminds me of the dope I pumped into my veins. The cheap cologne that permeates the air at the bus stop reminds me of the man who tried to murder me. The darkness that trickles into my dirty window reminds me of the streets that used to call my name. In the early stages, my sanity hangs by a weak thread of hope. Can I force myself out the door when ever fiber or my being tells me happiness is an illusion? I do and I did. Incrementally, I find I hate myself less and like my life more.
The days become weeks, the weeks become months, and the months become years. The consistency in my narrative is the uneasy relationship I have with myself. Drugs and alcohol are no longer the stones strapped around my neck pulling me to the bottom of a lake of self delusion. The issues I face are not ones of food, shelter, and the weak determination to live. The main issue I face involves a fundamental belief I hold that makes me ill equipped to deal with a planet full of humans. I seemed to have been born with a section of DNA that codes me as less than every other person around me. While all evidence points to the contrary, no amount of positive affirmations or mindfulness can sway me in the direction of truth when I am in that space. In that moment, in that spiral, I am utterly convinced that I am not enough.
That pain is real. That pain is dangerous. That pain can make the difference between participating in my life or becoming a passenger. I get driven around by unhealthy behaviors. Scratch offs, over eating, over texting, too much porn, too much isolation, it is just too much. I can allow myself to be pulled in so many directions it eventually tears at the fabric of whatever joy a drug free life is supposed to provide. Despite having the tools to turn down the stereo of self hated, I can sheepishly admit a portion of my life in search of validation, like a cure for the emotional hangover. I define addiction as the constant state of longing for something you have never had. For all my achievements, what I have never achieved is inner peace.
This is where I turned my first trick