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I never thought I'd hear myself say this, but yes, it is possible to put too much cream cheese on a bagel. Had to scrape some off this morning. First time for everything.

As I've been eating toasted bagels, it reminded me of an old cartoon PSA that has always stuck in my mind. Strongly. At the end of every Inspector Gadget episode, there was a mini Public Service Announcement, usually reminding children to not do things like dive into the shallow end of the pool or get into cars with strangers.

This one was about getting electrocuted. Inspector Gadget was trying to get a stuck piece of toast out of his toaster and because he has the world's most inconveniently placed Swiss Knife on his head, he attempted to use this gadget. Because that gadget is made of metal, he of course gets shocked and falls over.

That's when Penny steps up to the camera and tells us to never, ever use anything metal in the toaster. Since then, I have always kept a plastic utensil, a fork, a knife, sitting right next to the toaster. And every time I have to use that plastic utensil to dig out a tilted piece of bread, I hear Penny's voice, congratulating me on doing the right thing. It is so strange, the childhood PSA'S, that stick with us.

It is part of why I like iZombie so much. At the end of each episode, there is usually a fourth-wall-breaking revelation or thought that the character shares directly with the audience. While it'd get annoying for EVERY show to do that, a show with some heart works it very well.

Adventures in Cat Burglars: Or, how I accidentally used a cat to perform a break-in yesterday )

I signed up for some service work with AA. Once a year, we will go to four high schools to talk about alcoholism. While most of the kids will have no experience with alcoholism itself, some of them will be going home to alcoholics. A few more of those kids will have temporary but painful drinking binges.

But a few of them, the smallest percentage of them all, will either already be or will become alcoholics themselves. It's kind of like a pre-emptive 12th step, or at least a chance for education.

It's usually done by old-timers. Real old-timers. Old white guys in their 40's, 50's, or older. And that experience is not at all to be discounted. But I know as a teenager, it's hard as hell to listen to people "that old."

I got sober at 19. I'm thinking this might give the kids a slightly different perspective on the whole deal. Or at least the idea that (1) you don't have to be old to have this problem and (2) you don't have to be old to work on this problem.

I remember how frustrating it was to even convince anyone that I had a problem at that age. I knew it 17, knew it in the back of my head that all alcoholics know the first time we take a drink. But all of the grown ups - my teachers, foster parents, social workers, etc - thought I was just partying it up like a normal kid. Only one of my friends had any experience with alcoholism, a friend's mother, and while a few other classmates tried to reach out, all I could get from other people was "Just don't drink so much. Slow down. Just have a few shots. You're young, you're just rebelling."

It was, like, the LEAST helpful thing I could hear, and for the most part, that's what I heard. If I had heard a speech, a story, a goddamn PSA from someone near my age at that time, it would have saved ME a lot of time from the constant, internally tormented questioning of whether or not they were right.

I knew they weren't right. I knew they were dead wrong. But when the world tells you one thing, and you know another, it's easy enough to go along with the crowd. And the crowd told me I didn't have a problem.

It's funny how that stuck. The whole "you don't really have a problem, so you don't really need the help" thing. Because I was so young, a part of me worried that I was just reaching for attention, and so I drank harder and harder in an attempt to show that something was really off. That didn't get me the help I needed, so aside from the basic biological workings of addiction (that we just keep going and going and going), I fell into other drugs.

Hell, there was a time when, even when I had needles sticking out of my arms, I questioned whether or not I was acting out of sheer drama-making. Like I wasn't "worthy" of help. Like I'd be taking away help from someone who REALLY needed it.

Turns out that help from addiction is not finite resource, nor does one have to hit the bottom of an OD to deserve help. There's a reason why we (at least officially) limit our definition of who belongs in AA as "those who have a desire to stop drinking." Doesn't say anything about what you have to lose to get there.

Not that I desired to quit drinking at 17. I just wanted some confirmation that yes, I had a problem. Some kind of reassurance that I wasn't crazy, that I had some kind of self-awareness worthy of note.

I think everyone needs that last one.
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There is no substitute for this. There never was. I just had to discover it, to stumble onto it. The original drug. The thing that took me away from me as a child, the thing that took me away from everything else as a child, the one thing that I could use to rip myself away from myself as an adult.

"Poetry is not a way out of yourself. It is a way INTO yourself. - May Sarton

That's this. That's writing. Words.

My wound care doctor asked how many degrees I had today - and it wasn't a joke. Apparently, sometimes I talk all kinds of pretty and smart and use multisyllabic words in casual conversation. It was a wonderful compliment. It was only a slight sting to reveal that I had attempted college, but never received anything outside of a foolishly self-inflicted low credit score.

"We do not claim perfect adherence to any of these principles, only progress. - AA

I've been attending nearly daily AA meetings. I am sleeping better, but I'm still up at 4 AM, max. I take the 6 AM meeting, a form of starting the day with an hour long meditation. The help, the calm it induces, has been beneficial in ways that waiting days between therapy would ruin. So much there to speak of. So much of which I am far too tired to to do so, of course, but eventually.

I know what I'm really afraid of. To name the terrors and the consequences that I want to avoid....if I can name them, I can write them. If I can write them, I can experience them, heady and real. I can write them, I can ink them into my body to give me a roadmap, or I can exhale them like smoke signals. They can become roadflares, not bonfires. Signposts, not roadblocks. And this is what I'm really afraid of:

What if I can give it all up? All of my anger? Of my bitterness, the grudges, the pain I have used to build the core of my strength? What if I manage to work it down to some level where it has no place in my life....and it turns out later in life I NEED it, but DON'T have it anymore?

My rage is so precious to me. My faith in using pain to overcome pain is sacred. It has held me together for so many years. I do not know if I have anything to replace to that, or if I could learn, if it would be as effective.

I do not ever want to lose my edge. The edge is what helps allows me to carve off the sharpest parts, the parts that would kill me, and leave them discarded, bloody and rotting, to the side of the road. If the turmoil, the forever, permanently boiling and roiling waters just two scratches beneath the surface settles....

will what's left be able to do the same job of keeping me strong? And how much more will it hurt if I can't find something that does the same thing?

Both Pat and Jesse say I am running ahead of myself. I've had enough tragedy in my life. There are parts that will never ease. Jesse likened it to a chimney - the chimney will always be there. There is and never will be a lack of firewood to chuck in and stoke the flames, should I need them. Pat echoed very similar sentiments.

I came to being able to put words to this while in a meeting. The topic had been emotional sobriety, the ways we use the tools to keep us emotionally fit for balance and hope. This is how I knew what I am really afraid of, at least right now.

There will be many things to fear down the road. Letting go, or working on, or even considering the possibility of living our character flaws in different ways, can be such unknowns. They are for me.

What will I lose if I decide to change such an integral part of how I handle my pain and strength? Can I handle it?

That's what's the words are for today. They are for naming the fears. This is the original drug. Medicine. The better drug. The one I can get better with.
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And I think I got what I needed out of the meeting. At least for now, for this moment, and by god, if that's one way I know how this works, that's one way it works. It came, funnily enough, at the exact opposite statement of an old-timer. There are what we call "topic" meetings and then "literature" meetings. Pretty self-explanatory. One is usually more personal, the other focuses on the backbone of the program - the written literature of millions of sober addicts.

Both are of vital importance. Newcomers do not get sober without reliable information about their disease, and old-timers do not stay sober without being able to integrate that information into the rest of their lives. But sometimes you get the Bible-Thumper. Not THE BIBLE, but the "BIG BOOK", which is essentially our bible. The ones who say if it does not pertain specifically, completely, and only to the desire to stop drinking, it has no place in an AA meeting.

I disagree - and did so. Strongly.

Okay, I would have done so strongly, but I was exhausted, on the verge of tears, and finally, for the first time in hours, relaxed in a room where I didn't know a single person's name, but every one of them knew me just because we WERE all in that room. I rolled in there looking like I had just come off a hell of a bender. Make-up smeared, obviously hadn't slept in forever, filthy pajamas, cane and coat askew and akimbo. But that's the thing about AA - what you look like isn't the point.

It's the fact that you're there.

The old timer referred to the topic meetings as "dead cat" meetings and elaborated on their uselessness. Me? This is what I said:

"Y'know...thank fucking god for dead cat meetings, because I'm in a place where I need the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions to be about SO MUCH MORE than sobriety." And I talked about that. I talked about how the rules laid out in the program are so much bigger than my sobriety and I how I need them to guide me. I talked about wanting structure. I talked about being scared, about being helpless, and that if they helped me stay sober, then surely they can help me do other things.

From the book, we read a brief passage about a man who'd expressed great reluctance to even TRY sobriety if there was no guarantee it would work.

That particular part caught my attention, because there is no guarantee. Not about sobriety, not about sanity, but about this. About what I'm going through right now, physically, mentally, emotionally. There's no promise it will get better. There's no promise it'll get worse.

I can do everything right and it could all go wrong tomorrow. I could go back to three packs a day and a Big Mac five times a week and live to 80. Life carries no promise outside of its own brief existence and then its extinguishment. That kind of uncertainty is terrifying.

There was a woman there, perhaps a few months sober, exhausted, in a similar state, speaking about her "dead cat". Poverty. Homelessness. The helplessness. The inability to obtain proper health care. Afterwards, I asked if I could hug her and I cried on her shoulder. I did not catch her name. She did not catch mine.

But her tears were mine, if only for a few moments, and my tears were hers.

But maybe, just maybe it's not so bad, because maybe, just maybe, it will work out. The man in the passage of the Big Book - he got sober. He stayed sober. He died sober. However he managed to work his program, he found ways to expand it far past his own desire to kill himself with alcohol.

Alcohol is no longer my problem. But god knows I have plenty others. I can do this. I can do this today.
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At about 16, I found community and acceptance in the New Age movement. The messages of love and compassion against all grievances done, the messages that this body and this life were merely a layover on the great train ride through the Universe, were powerful. If I were truly healed, then I knew I had to be gracious, magnanimous, and sweep aside the actions of abuse in favor of understanding that this life was not entirely real, thus the abuse was not entirely real, either. Pain and suffering were transient. Only love was real. Only love was worth carrying. Forgiveness meant that you had grown above the abuse, because after all, why would you feel negatively about something that wasn't entirely real anyways?

Anger, fear, grief - all of these things only proved that I was somehow blocking the Cosmos, who just wanted to love me, who just wanted me to love those who had hurt me. But while Love can conquer yourself, it cannot move the mountain in someone who refuses to see the stone rise. It turns out that being spiritual does not mean you get to skip all the anger, the confusion, the resentment and work of healing.

I didn't know that. It wasn't until my late 20's that I began to understand that anger and confusion were essential pieces of the puzzle. I couldn't just hold the pretty parts of the picture over the empty space.

Anyone will tell you the background parts of a puzzle are the hardest to properly connect. Backgrounds are full of pieces that look damn near identical, with little or no markings to go by. But without that background, what you have staring back at you is incomplete. A bright thing that has no visual anchor to it. I'd used spirituality as a way of putting together only the middle of the puzzle. I'd used spirituality as a way to avoid all of the painful things that recovery would entail.

My mother found religion at 40. Not the mild-mannered version we'd grown up with, but rather the religion of her husband, who was Mormon. It wasn't the religion itself that I was bothered by. In some strange way, it almost seemed to do her good. She quit smoking. She put her eating disorder behind her. All things considered, I thought, maybe this is where she'll find some peace. And she did. She found her peace. And when she did, it made me furious. I'd assumed that her peace would include reaching out to me. I'd assumed her peace would allow her to open herself wide to me, in which I would grandly grant her my forgiveness.

Hope coupled with egoism is a dangerous combination. I had both running in tidal waves through my veins.

While waiting for the words of release to fall from my mother's lips, I listened to her talk about God's forgiveness. She talked about how cleansing it felt to go to Temple, to confess sin and sorrow alike to God. She talked of the unbearable weight that had been her entire life being lifted.

I eventually realized she would never turn to me for forgiveness. Her guilt belonged to God and God alone. She would never make efforts to repair the relationship between her and I, as she poured every once of her being into a relationship with God.

It took a few more years, but at some point, I was able to give her to her God. Not with any kind of permission or blessing. I just realized that she would always rather face and beg forgiveness to God- an ephemeral, formless, voiceless thing - than ever face me. Asking God for forgiveness is a far less messy prospect than asking the daughter you abused for forgiveness. God will automatically forgive you, all without having to do the slighest damn bit of work to bridge what's been broken.

It was the perfect place for her to hide. She, too, got to avoid any of the sticky, painful work of facing up to and realizing the damage done. Pawn it all off to a being that can never yell at you, can never make you feel bad for what you've done. Toss it all on the shoulders of God and claim it is out of your hands. Talk about how hard you're trying to work for God's forgiveness, all the while ignoring the human being that needs you to try just as hard for their forgiveness.

I used God as a way to deny what the gravity of what was done. She used God in the same way.

I write all of this now because I have a copy of the Book of Mormon. She gave me a copy when she came for my wedding in 2009, with some notes in the front of the book talking about specific verses. I haven't kept the book because I have a burning desire to know more about the Mormon religion. I've kept the book because it was something she wrote in. Something that mattered to her.

I think, in some small and utterly broken way, it's as if I can somehow hold a piece of her that WANTS to be held accountable for what was done. Not held accountable to me, mind you. Never to me. But if she does actually expend that much energy into getting God to forgive her, maybe she understands that there was something bad enough as to require forgiving.

It's not a thing I will ever be able to ask her. It's not a thing I truly want to ask her, either. It would require breaking the near decade of seperation between us and NO answer is worth the trouble that would cause. But it helps me keep the puzzle together inside of myself.

It helps me to keep trying to put together the less-fun parts of the puzzle, because it's the whole picture that makes the effort worth it. The effort is worth it, the picture is worth it. Come hell or high water, the box falling over and the pieces being scattered all across the floor, each piece counts.

All pieces in. Forever and ever, all pieces in.

Roll call

Jan. 17th, 2016 09:27 am
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I spoke out roll call a few days ago. Roll call of the friends I'd made and lost in early recovery. Their names, what they were like, the fun things we did, the things I said at their funerals. It is how I keep them alive, as once we pass into the land of the dead, it is only through what others remember that we live on at all.

There's several of them whose deaths are confirmed and many more whose stories end with "and they are probably dead now." When the first one died, I thought about getting her name tattooed on me. A dear friend advised against it, saying that by the time I had five years clean, I'd be nothing but a walking obituary.

She was right. Her name might have gone onto my skin as well, had I known what was going to happen to her only a few years after I left. She whom, when the first one died, wound up writing her own eulogy, the phrase I'd contemplate when she hung herself only a handful of years later. My friend shared the anger, the sorrow of losing the first one, saying "and now all I have to talk to is a hole in the ground."

And now, of course, should I want to talk to her, all I have is a hole in the ground to speak to.

That is simply the price of knowing and loving addicts. It is part of why I don't go to meetings anymore. They walk into the rooms on their feet and they leave in body bags. Once I was brave enough to wade into those storms.

I haven't the heart for it anymore. I speak the names of the dead who have passed through my life. I cannot bear to add any more names onto that list.

Sometimes I still get scared that Cassie's name will fall onto that list. Her name I would get tattooed. There is a beautiful picture she drew once that I framed on my wall. I knew from the moment she gave it to me that if she died, it would be what I would have marked into my skin. I hope it simply stays a framed picture on my wall.

Time will tell, as it tells with all men.

A song had prompted all of this a few days ago. A song that a friend of mine in recovery loved, and we would drive down the beach and sing it to the rafters. Shortly after I left, he got AIDS. A dirty needle signed his death warrant.

It's been 13 years since he called and told me this. He is probably dead now. And I had to wonder....why him? Why did he die and I live? Why did so many of them have to die while I am alive and aware enough to contemplate their deaths?

I don't believe in fate or destiny. I do not believe in anything that would say the heavens kept me alive because of some grand plan. I think I did the work while they did not.

I also think I got lucky where they did not. One dirty needle, one time of having sex with the wrong stranger, one bad deal in a house full of sketchy tweakers with a loaded gun....these are only peripherally choices. Any of that, any number of things that would have me rotting for years could have happened to me.

Those things did not happen to me. I lucked out in places where random placings at random times have killed so many others. Bad luck may claim my life someday. I got off relatively scott-free with my using. That's no magic talisman against car wrecks, cancer, or any of the billions of ways humans manage to die.

But dying from drugs...I side stepped that. I escaped that where so many of my friends did not. There is a song that I like that says "Everyone's choices are half-chance. So are yours."

Half choice. That cannot be denied. But as well as choice, also chance. I've outlived more than a few of the friends I made in early recovery. I made different choices.

I also had different chances. If I could unwind that thread and see where it would have gone differently with those dead, I would. I cannot. All I can do is speak their names so that I don't forget them - and know that so long as I remember their names, so then I remember myself.

Choice or chance, that is important.


Nov. 9th, 2015 05:01 am
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I talked to them - and am relieved that they both know and believe it wasn't me. Big weight off my soul. I didn't know what else to offer except to say that myself and any friends I bring over will only do so under supervision. They said that wasn't necessary, but just in case, I will do so. I KNOW they believe me, but as an ex-addict, I will forever still be about covering my bases.

Which sounds guilty and bad, I know. But I told Jesse...it took years, YEARS, until someone handing me a 20 dollar bill didn't reduce me to tears. Why? Because it meant that they trusted me that much to take the money and NOT spend it on dope, to which 20 dollars (at least back in those days) would get you a reasonable, daily amount of.

(Okay, for me at the time, a survivable amount of meth. Near the end, I was going through 100 dollars a day of the stuff. And that's STILL cheaper than what some of my contemporaries were doing at the time.)

I feel so bad for Shan (Pat's aunt). Thanks to the controlled substance nature of Oxy, she can't get another prescription and is now two weeks without pain medication. And considering she's got internal organs that are still healing....I told her, if I did bump into anyone who had any pain medication, I'd see if I could get her some.

But I don't run with those people anymore and I don't have any money to buy her some anyways. I wish I knew better how to help.

And Michael, yeah, maybe that does help a little. Downers never were my thing. On the rare day when I couldn't get anything else, I'd take downers if they were proffered. But even then, I avoided opiate anything, because even in the height of my addiction, it still made me sick. And not even "sick-while-being-high." It just made me straight-up sick.

It's funny and sorta sad - once another NA member and I were talking about the nature of our preferences. He told me the first time he did speed, all that wound up happening was that he threw up. I told him the first time I did heroin (or at least heroin laced things), all that wound up happening that was **I** threw up. Neither of us had gotten very high, despite the nature of both drugs being something that SHOULD fuck your brain up sky-high. Both of us then respectively stayed away from the other's drugs.

It amazes me, the way different bodies handle different substances.

At least I always managed to stay away from crack. It was offered to me tons of times, but always when meth was also on the table. Cassie once told me that crack is a stupid high - all it does is make you want to smoke MORE crack. Thank god for small blessings - and for addict preferences.

It bothers Jesse - it bothered David, too - how I can talk about drugs in both a disgusted way AND in a good, almost nostalgic way. Pat, having been there from start to finish with me, is indifferent to the ways I speak about it. But human beings don't repeat behaviors the way addicts do unless it DOES feel good.

People often feel as if the horror of drugs should completely overshadow the ways drugs made us feel good. And it makes them WORRY if you don't forever after speak of drugs in a tone of finality and revulsion.

But that'd be painting an incomplete picture of drugs - and a fatal one, at that. If you can't come to grips with what makes a person use (that it feels good), you will have no tools to combat what happens when you DO want to feel good. And being an addict, wanting to feel good will come A LOT, especially in the early days of sobriety.

Non-addicts don't really get that. In the end, they don't HAVE to get it, as frustrating as it might be. I have to be the one to "get it", as it is my recovery on the line, not theirs.

Still, I sometimes wish there were a way to make them "get it". I sometimes wish there was some kind of other, real-world equivalent I could use as an analogy. Some kind of example I could relay that covers both the eternal, if only miniscule, ways you remember drugs being good AND the eternal, always looming, ways you know drugs to be BAD.

I have not yet found anything that accurately describes this juxtaposition. It is a contradiction that, outside of being an addict yourself, defies all explanation. But it is one that an addict MUST come to live with if they want to live at all.

I wish there were easier ways to explain this. I wish there were a way to make my history never be a pop-up in someone's mind when things go missing.

There is not. This is the price I pay for having gone down that road of addiction 15 years ago. It is one that I will always pay, in increments, in small doses and loose change. It is an emotional tax I levied on myself.

I understand this. I wish I could make others understand this, too. I can't. All I can do is be honest with them and myself, be open minded to hearing others, and be willing to work with others when they are speaking about what IS on their minds.

Honesty, open-mindedness, and willingness. Steps One through Three in every 12 step program in existence. Those are the basics.

Those I do not wish to change at all.
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I know you're not trying to give me shit, Bart. That you're trying to help. But remember, a few months ago, when I got that hellaciously strong contact high and it freaked me out? What did I do? I told the people around me immediately. I came here and I wrote about it. I hauled my ass off to the single emergency meeting I seem to have a year. When I hit a danger zone - or even something that FELT dangerous - I did what I was supposed to. I was accountable, I got help, and I let Jesse AND the people whose house we'd been at that I will not put myself into that position again.

And that's exactly what I did )
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There is a young woman who lives in this hallway. Eighteen years old. Seven months pregnant. In an abusive relationship where she lets him hurt her so that she has someone she can hurt back. Insane in all of the ways 18 year olds are, with the added bonus of being wildly violent and dysfunctional herself. A newly released ward of the state, she has no ties to her foster parents and only to her mother, who was the entire reason she was put into foster care as it was. She struggles with cutting. She rages and breaks furniture, glasses, plates, and once her boyfriend's nose.

She is a constant, never-ending storm at sea.

In other words, I completely relate to her. I keep it beat back with a tight rein. I am no one's mother, nor am I willing to be anyone's active role model. Not with ones so young and certainly not ones so crazy. I've earned my peace and quiet. I'll take it, thankyouverymuch.

But sometimes there will be an argument with her boyfriend and sometimes there will be a knock at my door. She will ask for a cigarette or to use my phone. Sometimes she just needs an hour in a safe place to cry.

I never turn her away.

When she leaves, I am always utterly grateful that I am no longer in that time of my life. But when she departed at 11 o'clock last night, I felt something different. I felt...sorrow.

She is an addict. An addict just beginning the road to ruin. It is here that she could, having the ease of youth on her side, put down the cocaine. It is here that she could, with reaching out to the right social services, find help to raise her unborn son. It is here that she stands at a crossroad. One path is hard work, maybe harder work than she's ever done, but will lead to a better life.

The other is being stuck in a self-perpetuating hell.

But see, she doesn't know this. She doesn't know what dark road the drugs will take her down. She doesn't know where she is going will take years, if not decades to claw out of. She doesn't know that she will lose everything, up to and including her son. She doesn't know....and I can't describe the path in enough detail as to ward her from total destruction.

She has a chance here. She will get more chances, as we all do. But here, now, she has a chance to stave off years of trauma and misery. A chance to cut off the worst of the trouble at the pass. A chance to save her son from further damage, as much as has already been done with the coke.

But she doesn't know this. I talked to her. Shared parts of my story and then inwardly cringed when she said "I know I have to quit. That's why me and my boyfriend did all the coke we had last night, so it would be gone and we could get off it."

I remember, on one of my false-starts at sobriety, declaring that I was going to get clean. I was at Patrick's parent's house. And I, too, remember finishing off the drugs in my backpack so I could "get clean." It did not occur to me to flush the drugs.

It did not occur to me that getting high in order to get clean was a wild contradiction in terms. It did not occur to me that declaring sobriety while high was an empty, futile gesture. In my grandiose little mind, it made perfect sense. Looking back, I shake my head. I'm awed by how wrong I was.

But I didn't know that. Not yet.

I was young then. Eighteen years old, completely unwilling to cast a critical eye at my own behaviors. Eighteen years old, a newly released ward from the state as a foster child, struggling with cutting and prone to rages. Hell, at one point in there, I was even pregnant.

I was just beginning the path to my own ruin, the one that left me with life-long consequences. Here, there, to this side and to that side, the opportunities to get help, to get clean, to get better were littered all around me. And while I did get clean at a young age, only a year and a half later, I spent the next several years trying to piece back the puzzle I'd smashed. Time that could have been spent far, far more productively, had I only curbed the behaviors sooner.

She has that chance. Right here, right now. She has a chance to save herself from the storyline I walked through. She has a chance to save her son by not becoming the sort of mother that Cassie is. She has a chance to save herself.

But she doesn't know that. Not yet. Nothing I say will sway her from where she is walking. I know I am helpless. Even aside from the inability to change someone, it is not a thing I could do in health or sanity. She must to do so on her own, tripping over rocks, cutting her feet on the pavement that is the Road To Hell.

I wish so much to wrench her away from these things. My heart ached when she left last night. But as heartache is inevitable when watching someone destroy themselves, so is remembering that you can only do so much for a person. They have to walk their own path.

I know that now.

Get help

Jul. 6th, 2015 04:02 pm
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"I'm struggling. I'm...struggling."

The brush in my hand stops moving. My heart nearly does, too. I'm struggling. I don't know what it is about mundane activities that so often bring us to dramatic revelations, but there I was, blue scrub brush in hand, arguing with dog hair on Elizabeth's couch, and I knew I was struggling.

....Am. Am struggling. Have been for a while. Didn't notice it until I posted this morning. Until I had a perfect moment of absolute resignation to a couch that is, at this point, probably more dog than upholstery.

I set the brush down and made the call. The only one I know how to make. The only thing I know how to do. If I know nothing else - not joy or or loss or even for the love of writing - I know how to do one thing.

Get help. I know how to get help. I know the numbers and I know where to find them if I do not know them. I know what to do when I'm sinking, when I know nothing around me may stand as buoyant enough to keep from drowning. I know one fucking thing in this goddamn life and that is how to GET HELP.

I'll be getting a call from the clinic's therapeutic side here shortly. I'm setting up talk therapy again. Something's wrong. Something's very wrong and I need help to figure out what it is and what to do about it.

JESSE: "At least you got what you needed back."

ME:"No, Jesse, it's about what SHE got back. I was the one who wronged her."

Amanda. My best friend from high school, who was quite possible the literal reason I did not commit suicide. Amanda, my friend in early adulthood, both of us trying to navigate what it meant to hold jobs instead of classes. Amanda....my friend that I stole hundreds of dollars from, Amanda, my friend whose car I broke into in the dead of the night to steal her purse, Amanda, my friend whose purse I threw into dumpster and then went on the most bile-wrenching drug binge I had ever been on.

I remember at the time wishing it would kill me. I also remember laughing at myself. As if my body found cold from the drugs I got by breaking into her car and her heart would serve as any apology. I knew how full of shit that was. I could only cackle at myself, rolling over my own pretentious bullshit, all the while hating myself even more.

ME: "Well, I did get what I needed. I got my sobriety. I didn't get clean right then, but that was where the seed, the one that finally grew, was planted. I got my life back...."

Was it worth the cost? Yes. I'd be dead otherwise. I know this with the silence and depths that prove glaciers and mountains. Was it worth the cost, when it was I who paid nothing, and she who bled both money and years of love?

Somedays I think I've paid nothing for my sobriety, for my survival, and the cost that others have paid is always, always far too great. My life is not mine, it is an apology. And god save me - and god save the fool - who would try to convince me otherwise.

.....get help. I'm getting help. I'm struggling and I'm getting help.

Add it up

May. 12th, 2015 11:51 am
quirkytizzy: (Default)
I decided to deal with the lingering unease this morning by attending an AA meeting. I don't do those often. In the beginning, the first two years, I attended three meetings A DAY. Of course, as the issue becomes less of a "how to stay sober" and a "how to live" thing, many of us find daily or weekly meetings unnecessary. This is fine.

I'm often also embarrassed to be the person with the most clean time in any room. It's rare that I'm not that person. I don't know why I get so embarrassed, but I do.

But this morning I desperately needed the company of other addicts. Other sober addicts. Other addicts who were trying to do the right thing, no matter how insane any of it - good or bad - might seem. I needed that.

So I went and found it. Despite my current misgivings about the program (and believe me, I have MANY), it is still home. I could go to a meeting at 3 AM in Germany where no one speaks English and I know I'd still be HOME.

So, for an hour today, I went home.

It was much needed. Much comforting. And above all, much a reminder of my roots. The woman who had 4 months sober, crying because she couldn't make her head shut up. The man who just celebrated two years clean, beaming because he'd managed to beat his own death now for years. The young man with 7 days sober, beating himself up because he did not yet feel better, because he still wanted to drink.

These people are my own. I may not wish to get to know them anymore (loving addicts often leads to heartbreak, as most of us don't make it), but they are still my family.

It felt good to be around family. I feel good to be back in my residence now.

One day at a time. One day at a time has gotten me over 14 years clean. Today will be another day that helps add it up to 15 years.


Jan. 20th, 2015 09:44 pm
quirkytizzy: (Default)
May 1st, 1999

I have been thinking about COMPASSION and what it has meant. Last summer my parents raked me over the coals, ripping me to shreds, over my "lack of compassion" for my suicidal, pedophiliac, abusive, self destructive stepfather. SURELY IF I WAS GOOD OF A PERSON AS I SAID I WAS, my mother said, I WOULD FORGIVE HIM AND ACT AS IF NOTHING HAD EVER HAPPENED.

But that is not compassion. That is not love. The word compassion, broken down, literally means "TO SUFFER WITH, TO ENDURE WITH."

Who can tell me that I did not see me mother's breakdowns , who can claim that I didn't worry that Jim was going to shoot himself as he'd claimed so many times he was going to????!!!!! I suffered with and for it all, learned.

Compassion does not mean to excuse, to forget. It doesn't even necessarily mean to forgive. It means to go through something with someone.

I wrote that at seventeen years old. It wouldn't be until I was nearly 30 that I realized the value of those words.

I wonder why the hell I took so many years to believe it.

Worth it

Jan. 18th, 2015 05:03 am
quirkytizzy: (Default)
As I've noted before and yet always have trouble doing, it does seem the secret to "sleeping in" is to go to sleep earlier. Before 10 PM early. The last two nights Jesse and I have tucked me in before 9:30. I'm still waking up between 4 and 5, but that's hoooours more sleep than usual.

The wake up time is immutable. The going-to-sleep time IS NOT.

Yesterday was a day of frustrating conversations - one with David and sexuality and identity and another with Jesse about family, abuse, and forgiveness. It all seemed to build on each other, to where my nap was more prompted out of anger and resignation. The argument with David was an old one, one no more remarkable than any other argument we've had. It mostly reminded me to be more self-aware about conversations BEFORE I hit the feeling-upset-part.

Perhaps I need to apply the same with Jesse. Being as he is so new to my life, he's still not yet familiar with the ins and outs of my sore points - and, as it turns out - neither am **I** yet familiar with his sore spots.

See, he has a family history not entirely unlike mine. There's some large differences, but those mostly stem from HOW we decided to deal with the abuse. Vast, innumerable differences. He has chosen the path of forgiveness.

And we all know how I feel about "forgiveness."

That appears to be the crux of the difference between us and our abuse recovery. It's a fairly large one and we, baffled by the other's thought process, just keep talking in what seems like endless circles.

I know it's not really "circles." I know this is just part of the getting-to-know-you stage. I know this is how two people become intimately acquainted with their partner's life and thought processes. I try not to shy away from it, but it is sometimes frustrating. I imagine it's just as frustrating for HIM, too.

Neither of us are young. We've both had decades upon decades in learning how to navigate our own recoveries. We are both solid in how we feel. And both of us have found ways to be HEALTHY about it. His abuse issues are no more damaging to his daily life than mine - that is to say, not at all. Whatever process we both have used, it's taken each of us to a place where it no longer affects our adult decisions.

So in the end, I'm not really sure what I'm arguing ABOUT, only that his ideas about the whole thing rankle and infuriate me. And honestly, it's something I need to just step back and let be.

I've never been much good at just "letting things be." My way is to poke at something as fast as I can, as hard as I can, until it is no longer painful or upsetting.

That probably isn't the healthiest way to have a relationship.

It's much to think about and even more to apply in practice. It's worthwhile effort, though, and so I'm going to keep trying. It's worth it. It's absolutely worth it.


Jan. 7th, 2015 06:18 pm
quirkytizzy: (Default)
Fitting, that Piper's death would come on the day that I singularly celebrate my own commitment to life. January 7th is my clean day. Today, I have 14 years clean.

I don't really want to go back to those journals. They are either tiresome or else remind me of places that hurt. This is why I must do so.

I have to remember how much I hated myself if I am to remember to love myself. I've been clean for 14 years but I am not immune. Today did not make me feel like using. It does remind me, though, of where I would have gone in those days.

I don't want to go there now.


And why is the guilt not enough for me to stop? And I actually have the fucking ego to wonder why I can't stomach looking at myself in the mirror.

And I want to believe my miraculous recovery is twenty minutes and half a box popcorn away. I WANTED them to think, so now they are convinced....trouble is, I'm not convinced anymore. It's not like I want to DIE, as in suicide, ending my existence, stop breathing. I just want to make it stop.

Part of me wishes that this will be the bottom and the only way is up from here.

The rest of me knows better.

The needle represents what I feel I am inside. Ugliness pierced with toxins. Fucking soups of death, the stings. All because of my fucking phobia of mirrors.

Needles are lies. It's what I feel I've become...what maybe I've always been. I don't care about the image. I don't care about getting into the right crowd or getting cast out of another.

I just want to get it over with.

That last line is what is most striking to me now. Humans know our own stories and addicts are no different. We feign confusion - we may very well BE confused - but we know when our ending is coming.

I knew mine was knocking softly on the door, already having climbed over the gate. She got close enough to break the windows of my life, of my psyche, but she didn't kill me.

And if I'm honest, she - as in addiction - wouldn't have been what would have killed me. That would have been me. ***I*** would have killed me.

I almost did. I think, at the time, I might have welcomed it. Certainly, I felt powerless at the time to stop it.

I'm glad I have the power now.

I always did.


Oct. 16th, 2014 06:40 am
quirkytizzy: (Default)
It's not as if you ever forget what active addiction looks like, not really. Singular obsessions make an impression. It creates a literal dent in the brain, and even as time and repaired brain cells smooth it over, it's always there.

But eventually the burn does fade. It slowly recedes over the years. One day, you wake up and realize that your addiction - and even your recovery - no longer holds your life hostage. It no longer stampedes to the front your morning and it no longer sings lullabies to you as you fall sleep.

That was the part I didn't believe. How could it EVER be possible that addiction would not haunt my every waking moment? How could it EVER be possible that my veins would ever let me sleep comfortably? In countless 12 step meetings, cold rooms littered with bent styrofoam cups, I told them they were lying.

They told me to take it on faith. I still told them they were lying, but at that point, I had no choice but to trust them. It was either believing that someday I would believe or else suffering an utterly cliche death at the wrong end of a needle.

So I decided to believe that someday I would believe. I decided to act as if they were right, even though deep in my heart, I knew they never would be.

Twelve step programs come prepackaged with a lot of bad advice. After all, you're sitting in a room stuffed to the rafters of people who are sick in the exact same ways you are. And sick people aren't always the wisest folks.

But on this one, they were right.

I always say it took me about two years of sobriety for the obsession to fade. It took about two years before my life resembled anything normal. It took two years of sobriety, of being utterly consumed by my addiction for it to fade, even as I was no longer using.

That's a long time to wait for things to settle down. That's a long time to be doing the right things, every damn day, in order to see this miraculous state of release. To a freshly sober addict, that's an excruciatingly long time to sit through a recovery that's often just as painful as your active addiction was.

But since they didn't tell when the obsession would lift, I had no timetable to throw back in their faces. There was nothing I could use to stand up in a meeting and triumphantly cackle "You were wrong!" and then, in what would have been a fatal smugness, dash back to the streets and get high.

I'm grateful they didn't enforce a time limit. For some addicts, that sanity arrives much faster. For others, it takes years more.

But for me, it took about two years.

And now I have nearly seven of those two years stacked together. Now my addiction only rears its head when someone else's addiction comes crashing into my life. It becomes a major theme again, yes, but the obsession to use is no longer there. It waits, as it always will, in some dark and chained up part of me.

But it's not the same obsession it was 14 years ago. So long as I continue to make the day, every day, right in those basic first Three Steps of those dingy Twelve Step rooms, it will remain what it should be -

A ghost. A memory of years in which I could never believe that anything, anything at all, would be more important than drugs.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
I got clean through Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. These days I'm no longer a devotee. I now find some parts of the program to actually be discouraging and damaging.

But it still stands as the cornerstone of what I built my recovery on and I still use many, many of the tools I learned in those rooms. I know it is one of the few places in the world I can go where everyone knows me, even if we have never met.


So sometimes I take a read-through of the literature. For laughs, for love, for not forgetting. And I stumble on this:

In the preamble, read before every meeting starts, there is this line - "Many of us exclaimed, "What an order! I can't go through with it."

Addicts, being sarcastic motherfuckers, have a better way of reading it. They go "What?! An order?! I can't go through with it!" It outlines the concept of self-will run amok. We balk at recovery. We don't want to be told what to do. So reading it this way conveys those feelings - and does so in a humorous fashion.

Inflection and emphasis. It's fun AND useful.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
Lying Cat is my spirit animal.

Lying Cat knows better.

And if he knows better, then so do I.

I can sleep now. The strength may wax and wane - and it does, but I think I can sleep now.

I love you all. Thank you so much for listening, for going on this roller coaster with me.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
Tiger! I had a dream you had HIV! I made you a cup of coffee and asked if you wanted a donut to feel better. Silver Mage and Radium- I dreamed I came to NYC! I wanted to come see you guys but couldn't figure out the subway system!

It all makes me very much wish someday I will be independently wealthy and I can fly in to visit each and every single one of you. Someday!

It was a VERY full day yesterday. The Table of Contents are chronological, as follows: 1) School was Good 2) Cassie Is Crazy But I Realize Something REALLY FUCKING IMPORTANT About Recovery and 3) I rage-found another dentist. There is actually MORE - I'd called upon David for help and we had a wonderful time. And I'd also had an extremely healing conversation with my father later that evening.

But this is going to be a long enough entry as it is. So for now, we'll stick to the top three.

Instead of one usual cut, this one is broken up into several cuts. (Great idea, Nebula!) Pick and choose your chapter as you please.Not hot for teacher, but becoming Okay with teacher )

So all was well in class until I got a persistent series of calls from a strange number. I rarely answer calls in class. My general rule is if it's an emergency, I'll receive a concurrent text saying "ANSWER THE PHONE" or else they'll keep calling. Well, this number kept calling.Cassie and the Knowledge Of Earthquakes )

My mouth was throbbing in renewed pain due to the frustration after the phone call. I went back in class and tapped my foot, annoyed and awaiting the end of class so I could go back to the dentist's office.

I got to the dentist's office at 1 PM.You're a doctor, not a preacher )

This entry was long. So long that I think I've exhausted myself enough to try and sleep again.

I will be reading your journals. No matter how bad I am at commenting, please know I always read. Always. It helps me and besides, Pat often asks about you guys. I talk about all of you - by name - so often.

I love you all. Thank you so much for being a part of this. Thank you. Thank you.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
And this is where I feel like a lower-than-dirt, piece of shit drug addict.

The Norco is not stopping the pain. When it does, it's perhaps an hour and a half, two hours at best. Double dosing on it AND the Ibuprofen AND the Tylenol is making me sick. I'm also beginning to worry about Tylenol Toxicity.

So I text Pat's aunt again. She has cancer and has been on a wide array of pain meds, some of which did not work. I'd asked her for some meds last week, which she was very nice and gave me some. She'd offered her Percocet and Oxycotin, but I'd declined those.

Heavy opiate based drugs make me sick (Pretty much anything with ingredients that start with "oxy"). I do not like them.

This morning the pain was so bad I texted her and asked if the offer was still open. In exchange for some cigarettes (she only asked for one pack, but I gave her two) I now have several Percocets and Oxy's.

I hate this. I hate this so much. She was incredibly nice and understanding. Having cancer, she is extremely sympathetic to those suffering from unrelenting pain. But I feel like a fucking junkie going around begging people for drugs.

And that's a bad feeling. It's an especially bad feeling for someone who is an ex-junkie themselves. 13 years ago, I was an honest-to-god, real life, do anything I could get my hands on, permanently scarring my veins with track marks, JUNKIE.

I'm having a hard time differentiating between THEN, which was an active addiction, and NOW, which is actual, genuine pain. I know intellectually that it's not the same thing. This is no different than the wierd rush I get when I have to get my blood drawn.

But the BEHAVIOR is the same. Or the ACT is the same. The behavior is different. I'm not lying or stealing or manipulating anyone for the drugs. But the act of doing drugs is the same. The act of putting chemicals that purposefully alter my state of being is the same. Intent and how I achieve obtaining those drugs is different, but the ACT is the same.

It's scaring me shitless.

I'm grateful - SO GRATEFUL - to have medication that should actually stop the pain until I can get back to the dentist's clinic.

But I'm also fighting back an old panic.And I really, really hate this. Not to mention that in order to consume these particular drugs to stop the pain, I had to go buy a gigantic bottle of Nausease. (Anti nausea medicine.)

And I'm still pretty sure I'll be nauseous anyways. Through stressing about it if nothing else.
quirkytizzy: (Default)
How in the fuck do people wind up getting addicted to pain medication? Outside of the physical dependance of some of them, I mean? All this Hydro just makes me queasy and stupid. Sometimes it stops the pain but alongside it, it also makes me INCREDIBLY IRRITABLE. And stupid. And also queasy.

The doctor said this stuff had a physical dependence risk. Yeah, I'm so not seeing that. Can't WAIT to be off it.

It is driving my already often-teetering-on-brimming-levels-of-irritation to overflowing with KICK ALL THE THINGS. KICK ALL THE THINGS IN THE FACE.

An old friend in NA - a heroin addict - once told me he'd tried meth and wound up sick as a dog. His first hit of China White was heaven. The differences in how bodies react towards drugs is fascinating. I obviously don't react well to downers.

For Karl (my NA friend) something like this would be a hell of a good ride. For me - uuuuggghhh. Do. Not. Like.

I'm so sick of myself right now. I'm going to go watch more Tiger Boo.


quirkytizzy: (Default)

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