ADDICTS: You can’t understand us, we don’t understand ourselves

I am feeling the grief of addiction taking too many lives. I am wishing peace for their families, and I am sad they could not find peace for themselves. I know the pain of active addiction, and I am reminded of days when the emotional strain was so excruciating it felt physical.

Many of us use to numb emotional pain only to find ourselves more deeply conflicted. The drugs are only a temporary escape creating a new shame to escape from. The feeling of being controlled by a substance that creates insidious need, moving lines of morals and values in the necessity for more becomes tortuous. I remember wanting to reach inside my body to claw at my organs to feel something other than the vacancy inside me. The drugs helped me to step out of the chaos inside me while it created a new one. Then there was the deepended duality of maintaining a facade for those in my life, because no one could know the mess I was. I had to appear okay and could often convince myself I was.

To those who have lost loved ones to addiction we don’t want to cause you harm. It is unfair you are left more helpless than we are. If we blame you, know it is our way of deflecting the shame for feeling like we do not have the willpower to stop hurting you. We try not to see your concern and to minimize your fears for us.

We may not understand yet that it is not about willpower or weakness  and that the very way we fight to stay clean steals our worth, when the drugs pull us back in. We need to surrender and admit we have a dependence that is not easily overcome. Everything is complicated in the stigma attached to drug addiction. We need help, but we are fiercely independent, and perhaps at the same time paralyzed by codependence.

Addiction is always in opposition, a duality inside us that pushes and pulls to keep us unstable and needing to look for management by altering our state of mind. We are creating imbalance while desperately trying to balance ourselves on a razor’s edge. We are slowing killing ourselves but we are desperate to live, we just don’t know how to do that without drugs. We need to feel like we are worth being supported and helped but we push against assistance. We have to find a way to love ourselves and in the meantime, please just love us.

And yes; sometimes I liked my behaviour and I enjoyed the party, but the party always ended. You can’t understand us, we don’t understand ourselves. Just try not to judge us because, even if it is not obvious, we are not easy on ourselves and we feel like there is no use being anything different because society has taught us hopelessness in regard to addiction.

We are not hopeless. We do recover. Please be patient with us and believe we are capable of staying clean, even for one day. And when we do, know it is each day we stay clean that gives us time to heal and believe another day clean is possible.

VISIT LISA AT www.lisacolbert.ca.

More from Flicker Behind Delusion

Choosing the Street Home

Tonight I am grateful not to turn down the street that takes me home to sadness, resentment and lies. Instead I continue straight to the path today that takes me to a home of joy, serenity and love. There are places that still hit me with unexpected reaction that begins in the subliminal, then surfaces to provoke emotions I cannot even connect to. I feel my mouth watering for my drug of choice, even though I have no desire to use.

There is no clean time that takes me to a safe distance from my addiction.Until tonight, I had not really been to the part of the city that holds ties to picking up when no one was available in closer proximity. And the ride I went on in my head came unexpectedly.

I can feel… like it is in real time… myself gripping a small piece of plastic as I drive home in anticipation, likely for the third or fourth time that same night. I recognize it came to a point when I didn’t even have the restraint to wait until I got home. My imagination is running away, giving me flashes and feelings of the pipe in my hand.

I am living this in my mind as I retrace the route in my car four years later. I feel tears wanting to fall, but I don’t understand what this emotion is. I know I love my life clean and I do not feel the fear this type of experience would have brought a few years ago. I won’t feed the part of me that is somewhat resentful I can’t go back. As fast as the unclean thoughts enter I let them go unable to identify the emotions I am experiencing.

I am, almost without consciousness, vividly recalling the rush I loved. I am picturing rocks of substance in the environment around me as if in some parody movie playing in my head. It is almost laughable and because humour is my best friend I will laugh about this later, but for this moment I am given intense reminders with all my senses that addiction lives just under my skin.

I have accepted that for the rest of my life I may have these moments. My mind and my body have memories that can be provoked in the most benign instant. I am grateful I can acknowledge this and take it for what it is, just a moment in my life as an addict and when I choose the next moment to focus on my recovery, and how much that means to me, I take the power from addiction.

As I write this I feel the peace that brings. I am powerless over my addiction, but I have choices in my perception in times like this and I choose to look back and raise my middle finger to that part in my mind that took me off balance for a second.

…and now I can laugh.

Active Addiction

It was the sadness that ran so deep it made my body ache,

It was my heart beating so hard I could hear it in my ear drums,

Yet in another moment fading to an almost undetectable wisp.

It was the mirror, like a magnifying glass, taking regret to pure self hatred.

My emotions felt as though they would shatter like thin ice.

At the same time I wanted to claw out my organs just to feel.

Make the world stop just for a moment.

That is why I came here, but now I am exhausted as it seems

I am alone trying to hold the earth from continuing to rotate.

 

I will not forget where I came from and I practice gratitude everyday for living clean. An addict, any addict can lose the desire to use and learn to live clean. I am no longer alone and I am grateful that being an addict and finding recovery brings me so many gifts when I allow life to unfold knowing I never need to use again.

PEN FOR A PIPE

I want to write about everything that inspires

I want to write my deepest desires

I want to set fire to the page

I want to use ink to work through my rage

In writing I can find deepest purpose inside

Words flowing onto page to reveal things I hide

Thoughts turned off

Spirit only flows

Words with deeper meaning

Everything I’ve always known

No blocks

No fear

No judgment

Just today

The past stays behind

Allowing inner child to play

I will use a pen in place of a pipe

To escape with purpose

To a place that is ripe;

With spiritual connection

Inner peace and healing

The place I strive to be

No floor, no ceiling

I want to write to get out of myself

I want to write to be inside myself

No beginning, no end, just possibility

A place where there is truth I could never before see

Finished for now, yet just beginning

Putting a stop to false thought spinning

No longer looking back in fear

Staying in now, keeps the future clear

Knowing my destiny is ahead

Now there is purpose on the path I tread

Goodbye LETTER TO MY ADDICTION

This letter was written March 7, 2013 after the fourth week in House of Sophrosyne addiction treatment. As I type it I can see the emotion illustrated in my handwriting. I remember sitting down thinking I had no idea what to write, but I had put the letter off and it needed to be done, so I cleared my mind and the words hit the page in a fury…

I HATE YOU! Fuck off and leave me alone forever. I refuse to love you anymore. I won’t miss you or long for you because you don’t deserve an ‘ounce’ of my attention. You took my kids and convinced me to compromise my values and myself. My thoughts are changed and I have to work to exhaustion to drown out your voice. SHUT UP! I HATE YOU! Go far away and never come back. Just try to whisper with your provocative voice. Try to entice me with your glamour. The risk is no longer exciting to me, it is terrifying. Don’t dare take that sentiment and use it against me. Fear is no longer an excuse. Nor is sadness, grief, insecurity, hurt or any of those things you will try to exploit. Watch me celebrate without you the high that is life. The career you convinced me to put on hold is about to flourish. STOP TALKING!! I am not listening and when I choose to ignore you be highly offended because I am doing it intentionally to beat you down like you did me.

My spirit is here to extinguish you. My vital spark will see you burn in hell!

FUCK YOU! I WIN!!!

If you know me, you know I am rarely an angry person. I recall the rage that was building as I wrote this and then immediate relief when I finished. I wrote a quote on the page at the end. ‘Achievement without struggle isn’t rewarding’ Heather Fuher

 

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FUNCTIONING and ADDICTED

I’m not suicidal, but killing myself

I can handle my challenges

Yet I keep them on a shelf

I am happy and grateful

And still I use

I have a good relationship

Full of abuse

I am open and honest

About hiding and lies

An addict who functions

As her spirit dies

Written in active addiction.

So grateful my addiction journey brought me to recovery, narcotics anonymous and a healing of my spirit.

images

 

INSANITY

My addiction is trying to kill me

In the illusion it can thrill me

Dragging me back in

Perpetuating spin

Needing to feel lighter and looking for a lift

Exactly what it wants, to veer my shift

Trying to drown me and drag me to the deep

The fight is physical and energy hard to keep

My craving like a thirst for poison, bitter

My vision being blinded by illogic to consider

Anger, sadness, resentment vivid

Misdirected emotions build to livid

Something clawing just beneath the skin

Trying to get out or fighting to stay in

Illness of spirit, acid to the soul

Show me a new way, I have lost control

written March 2013

Recently found this on my phone. Feels strange to have little recollection of writing it. One of those days the disease was trying to surface. So grateful I have been shown a new way and to have the outlet of poetry, art and true friendship in place of substances 🙂

COGNITIVE TWIST

Chasing changes or retreating in fear

Losing track of things held most dear

Living out of balance

A tight rope walk

Valuable memories sitting in hock

Look to the ring master to see what is next

A mad director keeps me hexed,

Break from the state

This crazed hypnotize

Awaken the spirit and realize

Perception, reality, cognitive twist

Is that simply all that this is?

Vision coming clear, light expansion closing in

Looking for karma in my place of sin

Gaze up and see the fall wasn’t that far

The key may be reached and pulled from the tar

Slowly cleaned to find release

Turning each lock toward inner peace

REINFORCED LOCKS

Let me in, I’m knocking gently at your door

I am waiting for you and your need for more

Turn on that switch and unbolt the lock

Let me come in, I just want to talk

About my power and your self-doubt

The bottled up emotion you deserve to let out

I will take it and make everything alright

Remember me? It’s easy, I’ll help you lose sight

I will hold you and take you away

We had good times, come on out and play

Where I can distract you from life, from family, from friends

Open up to me, I am the familiar descend

I am pounding at the door now, just open it a crack

Let me in for a moment, then get back on track

I won’t stay long, just a lifetime I intend to cut short

Come on just one puff, one line, one snort…..

 

Go away demon, leave me alone!

Don’t knock, don’t write, don’t call on the phone

Looking back is opening the door to death

Of spirit, of connection, of body, mind, breath

Come any closer and I will scream

Help will come running, the NA regime

Be sorry you ever knocked at my door

For now I embrace recovery hardcore

The locks are secure, the fortress is tight

Make your retreat, you won’t get in tonight.

MY WINTER

Snow begins to fall,

As a cold wind blows,

My lungs exhale

And the frigid air shows.

The smell is familiar

And seems like a friend,

The dizzying spiral,

I can’t yet let end.

The welcome escape

in a heavy buzz,

Wrapping like a blanket

Whose warmth always was,

Right around the corner,

Waiting for me,

Something I run towards,

When I know I should flee.

I hate the winter and

I wish to reject snowflakes,

But I’m caught in a shiver,

Not sure what it takes,

To warm myself,

And accept the season’s change,

To take in the sunlight,

And allow things rearranged,

To inhale the warmth and

Let it cleanse,

Go with natural current,

And follow its trends.

60 DAYS AND WHAT I AM REACHING FOR

I wrote this in my journal at 60 days clean from substance use.

It felt terrific this morning to attend a 12 step meeting and feeling the support and love in the room was a great way to start my day. I am exhausted, however, and moody and tempted. I feel tremendous resentment presently toward my addiction. It has been a long week. My emotions are sneaking up on me like never before. I dealt with a grief filled anniversary on Tuesday and realized I have never faced these things without a substance to escape to. I am not comfortable being unable to hold back tears when sharing the story of losing my Dad. Its not that I don’t show my emotions, I just do it with a control I am not feeling presently due to the nature of early recovery and emotional instability. I was 18 when he had a massive heart attack and shockingly died. I made all the calls to family and friends with strength and ensured I was there for my mother and my family.

This is how I deal with things, by supporting others and for the most part denying myself. I have carried that practice throughout my losses, of which there have been many. I had a funeral home director tell me he should not know someone so young so well. It is now many years later and I view the first losses as preparation in regard to handling more. The ultimate loss of a baby, was something I was convinced I could not live through, but by that time I understood how to experience and move through grief. It was the single worst experience of my life. I chose to deal with it alone and knew I had to truly feel it and move through it, giving to myself the courage I had previously given to others. I needed to do it alone because I believed that was the only way I could really open up to what I was feeling. I have faced loss with strength and grace, but at the same time alone and with substances to soften some of the pain when I chose to escape for a moment. I realize now choosing substance over the compassion of others was false.

My heart still has empty spaces for each person I miss, and for me I wish they did not have to move on before I was ready to let go. I believe, though, they were a part of my life for the time that was meant to be and I hold the beautiful memories I have close. I realize before I crossed a line into harder drugs, I managed my life, falling only at times into alcohol or marijuana, deluding myself to the first degree. Choosing that escape as a temporary relief did not compromise my values, although it could lead to confusing my thoughts and gave me opportunity not to feel. Once I opened the door to deep addiction, I crossed a line that makes it impossible to risk looking to temporary escape in any substance, as it will give my addiction permission to again control my emotions. The temporary escape was an illusion anyway, and it lead me to welcoming the absence of feelings brought on by using crack and cocaine.

Having feelings back in my life and having to live them on their own terms is, at times, debilitating. Even the smallest irritations seem overwhelming presently. I know this is only temporary and I reach for the days there is more space between myself and my addiction. I accept this frustration is a natural part of my recovery and it makes sense that I ride a roller-coaster of emotion that feels beyond my control. Control has been the biggest driving force in my life and my addiction. Need for control is the catalyst for the addictive behaviours that led me to hard drugs.

At 60 day,s I am seeing myself open up to the support of others and it is not my norm. I understand much of my irritation today is resistance to the possibility of having my needs met by giving up some self-reliance. My ego does not allow me to think I need the same things I give to others, and I know I have to change that. In order to find true recovery and to live a life that is real I need to reconnect with myself, people and spirit. It is  all around me for my acknowledgment; and I am willing. Lack of patience is not an easy human trait to overcome, and I am realizing I am human, and need to be easier on myself. Strength and courage has longevity in acceptance and unity.

It is after midnight now, so it is day 61 and I will make my focus today on simplicity and being in the moment. I am grateful for the possibilities that are ahead and the hope recovery brings to my future. The resistance to change is part of the process, as is the feeling of being exposed to the world in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable way. As I move through the anniversaries of clean time and of loss, I will open myself to the support that is all around me while continuing to feel the joy of giving to others in the same way. I initially titled this 60 days and NOT what I am reaching for and I just had to take not out of it because as I wrote this, I moved through it and came to an understanding that will allow me to fall asleep peacefully instead of fighting myself and my thoughts.

60day keytag

SILENT SERPENT

The serpent is circling, silent and slow,

Patient and cunning, staying hidden down low,

Circling wide, with a smile full of charm,

Gently and softly, curling round one arm.

Mesmerizing; as the gaze is met,

Not revealing any sense of danger yet,

As the grip tightens ever so slight,

It sends a shiver that doesn’t seem quite right,

Softly the snake slithers, massaging down the spine,

The tail at the neck brings discomfort; but it’s fine.

Around the chest the circle is made,

The pressure is squeezing making breath fade,

How did the creature become so bold?

The warmth is gone consumed by cold.

Soon little is left, spirit is fading,

The soul that was strong and energy creating,

Pulls from the last ounce of strength and self-worth,

Breaks free from the snake, as it falls to the earth.

A hawk swiftly dives in high from above,

Soaring off with the serpent, and looking back with love.

hawk and snake