On recovery

Well, it’s been fifteen days since I’ve had any drugs or alcohol.  At first it wasn’t that big a deal.  I felt way better all around and thought it would be a cinch.  Deep down I knew that this would not be the case.

I AM a lot better all around,  make no mistake.  I’m eating way better, sleeping better, have more money and am in general functioning at a significantly greater level. For the first week or so I wasn’t even really thinking much of using.

However,  reality is setting in. This is both a wonderful and terrifying thing. My brain is working much better than during the twenty-some years I was stoned, drunk and otherwise altered. Sounds awesome,  right? 

Not entirely. I am finding myself absolutely flooded with emotion and anxiety of late. As long as I keep busy I’m fine. I’m going to NA meetings every day, talking to my sponsor regularly and beginning to do step work. It’s when I stop moving that the floodgates open wide.

All the mental turmoil I’ve drowned in a haze of substances is bubbling to the surface whenever I get down time. I’m doing my best to develop some real coping skills but it’s harder than I thought just to relax and take a breather.

The day I decided to give it all up everyone seemed to want to sell me drugs. I’ve been strong so far and kept my distance.  I’m trying to ‘Run with the winners ‘ as they say. If I have shit on my mind I pick up the phone and call someone who is committed to staying clean.

Still, I feel exhausted. My body hurts and my thoughts are scattered about when I stop moving. I have issues with chronic pain and used opiates in various forms for many years. I thought I was self-medicating but what I was really doing was murdering myself one dose at a time.  Suicide in slow motion barely articulates the hopeless routine of self-destructive behavior I was locked in to.

I kicked the poppy derivatives and thought I had myself under control.  After all,  I never lost a job to drugs and always paid my bills, albeit badly and barely. No matter how well I was doing I simply could not stop drinking and smoking weed. I never had a spare cent to my name and frequently went hungry in the name of maintaining a buzz.

Today is my fifteenth day of complete sobriety. I’ve caught up on bills and noticed many positive changes in my life. It’s scary, though.  It’s as if I’m learning to live all over again from point A or square one or whatever.  I’m having issues with anxiety mainly as well as some depression.  My meds are keeping this stuff fairly well in check but psych drugs can only do so much. I’ve thoroughly convinced myself of one ironclad truth: I WILL NOT GO BACK TO LIVING LIKE THAT.

I’m tired of hurting my family, my friends and myself.  I’m simply sick of being sick. One of the things that has really stuck with me is something I read in a recovery related book: Your bottom is wherever you choose to stop digging.  I didn’t ruin my life as badly as many people do. I am certain, however that I could and would have if I had stayed the course. 

I have a somewhat strange concept of God or whatever.  But the night I made the decision to change my life was the first time in years that I honestly through bouts of sobbing asked my deity for help. I don’t want to fucking do it anymore and I can’t do it myself.  Trying has nearly killed me too many times to count. 

Lo and behold,  little blessings are already revealing themselves to me. I made a Metalhead friend at the groups,  which is something I haven’t had in ten years.  I have food in my fridge.  My job is so much less of an ordeal to soldier through.  Little by little,  I’m rediscovering the friend in myself that I was sure I had exterminated.

I’ve seen recovery work genuine miracles for friends I was sure were going to die from their addictions. It’s time to work on my own.

All systems go. Today is the first day of the rest of my life and in spite of all the crazy shit in my head I am cautiously optimistic .

If you know me personally,  just be aware that I haven’t been myself for longer than I care to remember.  You just might find yourself getting to know me for the first time.  I don’t think that I’m a bad guy, just a little dark and messed up.  But I’m working on it. 

That’s a promise.  I  leave you with a photo of one of my favorite bands of all time. Napalm Death. I’ve seen them live three times and plan to do so many more.

Your humble narrator –

Thom

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Rebuilding

My name is Thom and my life has been a mess for pretty much as long as I’ve existed. I’ve been deliberating over what to do about it for some time. I’ve done so off and on for the better portion of twenty years that I’ve struggled with substance abuse.

I’ve had my share of moments of clarity and dramatic realizations and what have you,  I just haven’t taken them very seriously up to now. So why have I chosen to do so now? Let me illustrate my plethora of reasons:

1. I can’t get any money saved. Ever. I’m always riding the ragged edge and I have gotten quite worried about doing this long term.

2. I have a family and great friends that I’m sick of letting down all the time.

3. I love my fiancee and want us to have a stable future.

4. I’m growing increasingly concerned about my physical and mental health and the very real danger I’m exposing myself to by living as I have for so long.

5. My younger brother looks up to me and currently has more clean time than I do.

6. I just can’t do this to myself anymore.    I’m sick of sobbing and feeling hopeless and lost.

I went to an AA group today. First time in four years. It gave me hope and it’s right by where I live so I don’t have to worry about getting there.

I’ve lived near a recovery clubhouse for nearly a year. I’ve walked past it countless times either drunk or high or both. Never been able to stop wondering if I should go inside.

I nearly ruined Mother’s Day by being in a really bad emotional state from drinking earlier that day. Only a few, but enough to turn me into a mess and worry my family.

I’m not an idiot,I just act like one rather often. I know I’m playing a dangerous game mixing booze and weed with my various meds. I know it has to stop now.

I love my man so much. He asked for me to marry him and I gladly accepted. I want the mental clarity I need for us to have a prosperous and long life together. I don’t want to be anything but there for him in every possible way. Which in order to do requires me to be there for myself.

To say that I have a bit of emotional baggage would be a grotesque understatement. My Dad finally knows I’m gay and isn’t thrilled with it. I have dealt with this and a number of other things by heavily altering my consciousness for longer than I care to admit.

I won’t lie, I’m horribly afraid of dealing with life on it’s own terms. The fact that I work as a barback is another problem. Being surrounded by booze is turning into a bit of a trigger for me. I don’t know what I’m going to do but this is me trying desperately to change my life.

Suicide in slow motion no longer interests me .Prosperity- now that’s intriguing.

Priorities

I have a few, if not a great many. I want to explore the planet and stand in the sun with a will and be dangerous. The Khalil Gibran interpolation aside, I want to challenge myself. I know I’m not an idiot, but I am kind of an underachiever in many ways.

I try to cut myself some slack. This is a delicate balance in itself. I mean, I’m not incarcerated or held against my will in a hospital having my brain completely twisted with drugs, so that’s a plus I suppose. Honestly, things are better now than I thought they would ever get. For several years I was slowly recovering from my second nervous breakdown. Both came close to totally ruining my life.

I was on a crazy check for almost five years. The fact that I’m supporting myself and in a stable and loving relationship is still somewhat astonishing to me. I’m not out of the woods, but I made it through several years of total fucking darkness and despair.

It’s amazing to be with a guy who builds me up and inspires me like he does. He makes me laugh like no one ever has or ever will again. Or something. I’m being obnoxious and glowing so expect a few bottles of pure nauseating sap from the chief harbinger.

But on to the point (which I do have):

What is the next step?

Marriage for one. A trip to Alaska this fall is officially signed in blood and sealed. But then? My man is trying to get into law school and I’m not sure where that will lead us geographically. I need to develop some kind of lucrative skill here so I can live reasonably well, but what?

I have to accept the fact that I have certain limitations. I mean, I do fairly well for being a bipolar kid on extended release Ritalin with arthritis and tendonitis. However, I’m getting older and I fully understand that I’m not an indestructible machine. My first brush with sciatica was like tasting my own mortality for the first time. It certainly brought me down a peg being barely able to walk.

I think a lot about what I might be good at. I’m neurotic and detail oriented so I’ve always thought something technical and analytical would be for the best. But I have to start thinking a bit harder about this stuff. Life is happening and all.

I also think I’m approaching the point where I’d like my spiritual pursuits to go beyond the realm of solitary practice. Maybe one of the Thelemic societies or a Gardnerian Coven (I do not believe that the two are exclusive of one another). I think it is time to turn will into action.

May it be so for you as well.

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Health Update

I seem to be doing pretty well overall. I’m still experiencing some wrist inflammation, but Advil keeps it at bay most of the time. Blood pressure is well controlled and my back has not given me much trouble lately.

I saw my psych Dr. A few days ago and my cocktail is pretty much the same as it’s been for a while. One thing is changing though: My ADHD med. I’ve been on Ritalin for about six months after having some blood pressure issues from adderall. I’ve gotten similar results to adderall, but the Ritalin SR craps out a lot quicker. For this reason I’m switching to concerta. This should give me a few hours of extra coverage and get me through the workday.

The wrist is still screwy but not as bad as it was. I can’t really take any more cortisone so I to some extent just have to deal with it.

Aside from that, life is awesome. I’m engaged and visiting Alaska with my amazing fiancee in August.

I am alive with toe-curling feral delight. Yay.