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Feel Like a Failure

Jan 25, 2008 - 5 comments

To Mom-in-Stress (who felt like a failure after relapsing after about 25 days)
April 25. 2007 --
There's a saying around the rooms to the effect of: "I needed every drink/pill/hit I took in order to be able to get sober."  At times it's tempting for me to say/think "if I were smarter (better?) I would have quit back [whenever], when I knew I had a problem, but before it got so bad."  

That's very tempting at times.  It's also a crock.

In fact, that type of thinking promotes my disease and my denial.  In effect, it's saying "I should have done a better job of controlling that uncontrollable thing over which I am powerless."  My mind tries to resolve the conflict inherent in that statement with thoughts/feelings that ignore the fact that I am powerless and, for me anyway, the thing is uncontrollable, and focus only on my failure to exercise the necessary degree of controll.  

VERY QUICKLY that line of thinking morphs into the notion that I CAN drink & use again, IF I just exercise the necessary degree of controll (which it feels like I now understand and would be able to do).

I took that line of thinking to its logical conclusion time after time after time, through relapse after relapse after relapse.  Each time the perceived control dissolved with the first pill or, later, with the first good hit from my crack stem (talk about INSANITY - can you believe that I would really talk myself into thinking that "this time" I was going to use crack but keep it under control? There's no such thing as controlled crack use!).  

Despite the fact that the result was as would have been predicted by any sane person, with each relapse I suffered that incomprehensible demoralization with which I'd wager everyone on this board is all too familiar.  Each relapse seemed to provide a new definition of failure.  It wasn't all that long before the definition of failure became short and simple: it was ME - I WAS failure.  

Now, that doesn't seem like a particularly good place to be.  It SOUNDS very sad and, in fact, I do feel a bit sad as I sit here now and recall those days when a simple glance in the mirror would cause that silent shout of condemnation within my mind "YOU ARE A FRAUD AND A WORTHLESS DRUG ADDICT!"  

But, it's actually not that bad a place to be.  For me, it was a necessary place that I had to be (time after time) before I was able to actually able to get to a good place.  At this point I am grateful that I know and truly understand that there is no such thing it being "different this time."  If I hadn't been to that dark place so many times, there would be no way I would truly believe that.  Thus, there be no way that I could now refuse to join forces with those thoughts that less-frequently, but still regurarly "suggest" that what I really need (RIGHT NOW) in order to make everything OK is just "A LITTLE" of whatever.

How could I possibly see those thoughts as just lies of my disease if I had stopped using on the 1st try or the 2nd (or 3rd or 4th), back when I first became aware that using was a problem?  The answer is that I couldn't.  Sooner or later I would have to give that "new" option of controlled use a try.  I would give it a try and at this stage of my disease it would kill me.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't feel bad - you have good reason to feel very bad: you've come face to face with the reality that you're best efforts are insufficient to get and keep you clean.  You have been presented with irrefutable evidence that dispite having full knowledge of the negative effects of the pills on you and your family, and full knowledge of your past inability to exercise control over your use, that you were still willing to refill a script and put those pills in your mouth.  Who wouldn't feel bad about that?

I am saying that such bad feelings can be important and positive part of Recovery.

When I got to my 2nd rehab less than 5 months after I left my 1st, I was feeling quite hopeless, helpless and worthless.  It was just TOO AWFUL and that there seemed to be NO HOPE -- everything just seemed like the WORST POSSIBLE NIGHTMARE, except it was all so clearly and painfully real.  I had been there about a week when I started crying and I just couldn't stop.  I just could not stop.  The only time I had ever cried like that had been 25 years before, when I stood by my Dad's casket and the the grave into which it (with my Dad) was about to be lowered.

Dr. Ben (who had himself known the agony of addiction to heroine, crack and alcohol, with MANY failed attempts to get clean) saw me crying and followed me into the empty room to which I had fled.  He put his hands on my shoulders and MADE me look at him.  Looking me right in the eyes, he said "Don't be ashamed of those tears.  In those tears lie the seeds of your Recovery, my friend - embrace them and never forget them."  I have never forgotten those tears, nor those (and many other) wise words I heard from Dr. Ben.

So, Mom-in-Stress, that's what I would say to you too: Don't be ashamed of your sadness or tears.  Don't try to hide from them or to put on a good face in spite of how you feel.  Embrace the way you feel and FEEL IT, because those feelings and tears  are the seeds of your Recovery - never forget them.  

At the same time, try to remember that you are not a weak person trying to become strong again, nor a bad person trying to become good again.  Rather, you are a sick person trying to become well again.  

Take care of yourself, just like you would that little guy that you love so much if he were sick.  You deserve that just as much as he would.

Looking in the Mirror

Jan 25, 2008 - 0 comments

From 1/16/07:
I started with Darvocet back in 1997 - just once in a while at first, but soon frequently.  Then I moved on to hydrocodone and oxycodone when I could get it.  

One day back when 5 or 6 Darvocets would last me all day, I was walking by an office building with reflective windows.  It was like walking by a block long mirror that went up too high to see the top.  I had a GREAT Darvocet buzz on.  Life felt good and I was quite please to be a part of the show.  I remember looking at myself in the "mirror" as I clipped along the sidewalk.  I was very pleased with what I saw.  It wasn't that I thought I was particularly great looking or anything like that.  I just thought I looked "very together" - something like that. I felt oh so good and happy to be alive.  My secret buzz was like being in love or something.  My secret buzz somehow made me just a little bit better than everyone.  I just felt (and thought I looked) in control and unstoppable.  

So, I was quite suprised when I question was posed to me in what almost seemed to be an audible voice: "ARE YOU GETTING INTO TROUBLE WITH THOSE THINGS?"  I was so starlted by this unexpected question that I atually answered my refliction out loud: "No! I'm fine!" I didn't know at the time that it was the beginning of the countless lies I would tell to myself over the course of my addiction.  

At the time I didn't WANT to give up my Darvocets - they made me feel GOOD and I deserved them.  Unlike drinking (which I had finally and fully given up 9 years before)they didn't make me act like an idiot or get me into trouble.  Indeed, people had been telling me that I seemed nicer lately and more fun to be around.  Nor did they effect my work - I could work like a bandit on those things then.  Besides, NOBODY KNEW.

I COULD have given them up back then, but I didn't WANT to.  If I knew then what I know now I would have wanted to and it would have been easy.  Now that I made it through active addiction without killing myself or going to prison (both of which I ALMOST did), I find that I'm almost at the point of the Recovery Promise that I do "not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it."  Almost.  The trip from "normal" life, to active addiction, to sustained Recovering has changed me and given me an outlook toward and appreciation of the world that I didn't (and couldn't) imagine was possible.    

In a very real sense I feel blessed to have become a drug addict.  Without it I never would or could have made the shift necessary to allow me to get where I am now.  And (even though I'm still working my way out of the debt and other problems caused by my active addiction) where I am now is far better that where I was before I took the first Darvocet.  It's as if BEFORE (even before the active addiction) everything was in black & white and NOW it's all in color - it's that significant of a shift.  

On the other hand, thinking of someone I love having to go through what I've been through truly makes my heart ache.  It would be too much to put anyone through.  I can see that clearly when I think of one of my kids or friends being the one to suffer, but it's still hard to apply that standard to myself.

Anyway, as they say "in the Rooms," I'm rambling.  Quit now, while it will be easy.  Darvocet at the rate of 5 ot 6 a day will be easy.  If nothing else, drop back 1/2 a pill every 3 or 4 days and you'll be done in just over a month.  If you don't stop it will get worse - MUCH WORSE (that's what addiction does, it gets worse).  There are easier ways to get the gifts that I and many others have found in Recovery than by taking active addiction to the limit (which is where it always goes if it's not arrested).  Most of those ways are far less likely to kill you, land you in prison or cause you to kill someone else (I shudder to think what would have happened if a child ran in front of my car back when I drove with a constant buzz and squat for reaction time).

Again, sorry to ramble on so.  I find that it's helping me a lot to get on here and put down some of my thoughts.  I've never done that in a pen-to-paper (pixle to screen?) way before.  Goodnight.

Old Posts

Jan 25, 2008 - 1 comments

Now that I've figured out that the "Posts" tab gives me access to every post I've made on this board, I'm going to copy some of my old posts so I have easy access to them.