I wanted to dive into a vat of champagne. With a straw. Inhale coke, speed, ecstasy, trips. And sweet, sweet smack. Swill bottles of rum and gin, and I always hated both.
The tricky thing about the disease of addiction and alcoholism is that it creeps up on you when you least expect it. Deal with hubbies cancer, chemo, subsequent remission? Check. Crying newborn who sends you to Crazytown? Check. Childhood issues that will always cast shadows, the length of which is proportionate to where the sun is at any given time? Check. Step-parenting, parenting, wifering, sistering? Check. Easy. Come on.
But - have no car for a week, or my laptop plays up, or I feel a bit down ..... then get me the hell out of this skin, I want to give up on life and take as many things as I can to numb myself.
In meetings, it's called "Broken Shoelaces." You can deal with the big things, but the little things - one day you look down to see that your shoelaces are broken, which sends you running smack bang into the nearest drink or drug.
One night, towards the end - when I knew the party was way over but still could not stop, I remember not making it to the bathroom in time to vomit. Which was nothing new, but I was in a club at the time and I vomited all over this poor unsuspecting girl. She was all dressed up for a big night on the town - blonde, young, glowing, looked pretty. All the things I was not. She went ballistic, and rightly so. I stood over her, glowering like the mean dark twisted soul I was, menacing. Snarling. She backed away, probably went home.
I finished vomiting in the toilet, which made me feel better so I could keep drinking for another few days straight.
This story is not funny. It's hardly anywhere near one of my worst. It's just one of many that I have, tucked away in some space in my brain entitled "FUCKED UP THINGS I DID BUT NO LONGER WISH TO TALK ABOUT BECAUSE IT'S EMBARRASSING HOW FUCKED UP I ACTUALLY WAS."
It was all second nature to me - the booze and pills and drugs and smokes and guys. (Oh, the guys!)
How on earth I am ever going to manage my three boys going out into the world and experimenting with drugs and alcohol I have no idea. (Again, thank God I do not have a daughter.)
No longer do I have bulging ashtrays on my bedside table. The first thing I do in the morning is not light up a smoke and wonder how the hell am I going to manage another day on this Godforsaken earth. I don't only have one pair of dirty shoes. I don't sleep around. (Oh, the guys!) I'm not lonely. I don't spend all of my money on substances to take my mind off the fact that I have no money, no job, no friends, no family, no self-respect, no hope.
But I used to, it was all I ever did, all I ever was. And all of that black and bad is still underneath, swirling around. I call them vultures. The negativity, the sad, the doom. The opposite of All Good Things.
We all have our crosses and our demons, I know this. I always fuck up and try to run from mine, and then give up, and after three days or so, get resurrected again. It always happens, then I go on for a while, get fucked up, forget, remember, get resurrected again, etc.
I laughed on the phone to my sister last week, told her how I want to drink the vat of champagne. This is not usual - I actually hate it when people assume that because I am in recovery, then I must be suffering or lacking in some way. I'm not, and can often be more together that most. But when the desires come, they come like the second Die Hard .... WITH A VENGEANCE. My sister reminded me that I always hated champagne. "Pfffft. I don't care. I never met a drink I didn't like. Hey maybe I can drink 10 Redbulls and go clubbing with Dave and give him a lapdance and then go get a tattoo. I can do that can't I? That's not hurting anyone??" My sister just laughed. I sighed. "Man. Why do I have to be so hardcore?"
I hate how I can't just go the gym. I have to pump it HARD, and load weights on and tear calf muscles. I can't just eat one chocolate - every so often I need to sweep the house of any wrappers and large empty boxes I've hidden from the guys. Anything I find in life that I get enjoyment out of, I use and abuse until it makes me sick. A friend of mine just opened an Asian store - I got addicted to the organic chicken rolls with coriander and chilli. Like, every fucking day, weeks on end. I can't eat them anymore because now they make me sick.
Last week I went to recovery meeting, in a different town. It was packed - there was about forty people. And I was the cleanest one there. Which was strange, considering the state my head was in. I got asked to share, which I did. A lot of the early parts of my story came out. Things I had forgotten about, things come out of my mouth and I think, "for realz??" No WONDER I am a maniacal idiot, sometimes. But I always try to gear my share towards the newcomer in the room, give them hope that they don't have to live that kind of life anymore. There is a way out. And you only have to change one thing ...... everything! I find myself always saying one thing to them.
"There's still a lot I don't believe in, in life. I got damaged beyond repair - we all did. But, I promise you this ..... recovery is real. It is. If I could dig around in my heart and pull some out and give it to you I would, but you have to do it yourself. It's the best thing you will ever do in your lives. I promise."
In the days since that meeting last week, I have been more present with my boys. I've tried to pry my Spirit out, because it keeps getting stuck. Working out what I need, what I don't, what I can change, what I can't.
And the wisdom to know the motherfucking difference.
I gave up nearly everything* to be this new Eden. I need to remember how bad it actually got, how horrid my stories I keep close to my chest actually were.
This week marks nine years, for me. Nine. Since the hab shuffle finally ended and I got a bit real, a bit cracked open. I've never really made that much fuss about recovery birthdays. But this one, I'm gratefully in awe of. And scared. I don't want to slip. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance. Sometimes you need to look back, before you can move on ahead.
The things that I have in my past are not pretty. It was not glamorous or fun or just so cool. It was an absolute fucking nightmare. Heaven and hell both coexist on earth, you know. I may not be in heaven a lot of the time, but my goodness.
I'm still clean. Many aren't. It's a hard gig, this recovery business. The road gets littered with relapsers and death. People - some of them my friends, who have gone back out there and paid the ultimate price.
Sometimes I feel like I stay clean for them - the lost ones, who found it too hard. As much as for myself. To experience all this life has to offer. All the joys and pain. The shit and the sludge and the tinkling of my sons calling my name, the sunny days of spring, the early Christmas decorations, the sweat, the tears from joy as much as pain.
And the sweet sweet smell of all of it.
*Except swearing, chocolate, and coffee. I will never give those up AND NOBODY CAN MAKE ME