Here is an excerpt from a draft of Chapter 2-When?
I will see you all in about 10 days. Take care of yourselves and I will talk to you all soon.
Fantasy is the alternate universe to reality that addicts live in. Projection is having events play out in my mind the way I feel they should be. Expectation is the unrealistic agenda that addicts measure other people, places, and things with. All of these contribute to the disease in a way that raises the addict’s ego while lowering their self-esteem and self-worth through feelings of self-pity, guilt, and remorse. It sounds complex and unbelievable at the same time, but these are the feelings that are common to most addicts.
The reality I was facing seemed like a steep mountain. I would soon be leaving the confines of a treatment facility to return back to the circumstances of my life. The fear of facing life, my inability to deal with life and my own emotions and feelings soon closed in on me. A million questions ran through my mind. What if this happens? When will this happen? What if so and so shows up? Over and over the constant obsessive thoughts that are based in fear, anger, and guilt are the driving force that leads to early relapse from those that leave treatment.
I think it was summer, or maybe spring. It’s foggy now. I see him standing on the side porch. My dad, with a suitcase. I had been out with friends. I see his old American Rambler sitting, idling. As I walked up to him I see a bag of canned goods beside him. He looks at me and says, “Your mother has asked me to leave.” I looked at him and said, “Ok.” He tells me, “I never fucking left you, don’t ever say that, ok?” “I never left.”
But you did leave……I was 13.
This event I can say was a pivotal moment in my life. I realize today that my mother could not take anymore of my father’s nonsense. She had put up with it for years. I could tell you stories of endless fights, emotional and verbal abuse, moving from one town to another, and bankruptcy. I don’t understand all of the decisions that were made for me as a child, but I know that my parents aren’t to blame for the way I turned out. I guess there were times in my life it felt like I didn’t have a voice or no one listened to me.
It felt like I was tossed to the side by the events of life. This is when I made the decision not to feel anymore. It almost seems clear now that it was a conscious decision of a frightened boy hell-bent on destruction, self-destruction. I had tried drugs before this, drinks here and there. I tried drugs when I lived in Florida shortly before this event, but this life marker, this age of 13 is when I began to use on a regular basis and it would continue until I was 36 years old. I would stop maturing at this point in my life. From this point forward, I no longer cared what life had to offer, except how high I could get at anyone else’s expense.
I never used socially. I want to make that clear and upfront. It may have seemed at times when I appeared to be in control, but I never really was. This is an illusion that addicts convince themselves of on a daily basis, that they have some control over it no matter how despicable the act or how far we let ourselves go. I know of addicts who are still using today, spanning over 30 years of use whom believe they still have control. It’s a mindfuck.
I see myself in my mind’s eye. I was a punk, I’m chuckling to myself at the moment because I thought I was something special, but in reality I was a punk. I see myself with that silly mullet haircut! Good Lord, the 80’s were difficult weren’t they?!? Most of the time I was in some sort of trouble, with someone or something. Sometimes I would want to be alone to the point of isolation and other times I wanted so many people around me for comfort I would carry a crowd. Most of all I was in pain. I see that today. I was confused, angry, hurt, and lonely. I never told anyone how I really felt about anything, ever.
I climbed into the van. The silence was deafening. I tried to kiss her but she turned her check to me. Figures, I said to myself. This is bullshit. I knew she would act this way, and I bet the kids are going to be off the fucking hook too. My wife had come to pick me up from treatment. These are the 2 things that stand out to me vividly; the silence and the colors of the world; I don’t know which one was more a slap in the face than the other.
I have spoken to literally thousands of addicts in detox facilities. It never ceases to amaze me the numbers that are lined up to call loved one’s at home to let them know “How well they are doing in detox.” This constant need for outside validation. I mean, what is a loved one supposed to say? “Great job for going to rehab?” “I will be there for your graduation!” No one graduates from detox or rehab, we just move forward and do what we should have been doing all along.
The colors of the world still bring tears to my eyes at times. I have had the opportunity to see a few sights while clean and nothing compares to a Gulf Coast Sunset or an early morning sunrise on the bayou. Riding in that van the colors were like when Dorothy stepped out of the house into the Land of Oz. It was surreal and frightening. To think I was this blind, this clouded?
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