Sunday, January 30, 2011

An Evening To Remember

The first time I smoked crack was December 30, 2004. I had struggled with alcoholism and addiction to prescription pain pills from the time I was 13, but these addictions were relatively genteel in comparison. No doctor was going to take my money, stab me, and run. All of the values that I had been taught, and that I believed in spite of my behavior, were actually a handicap in the world of hard drugs. Lying. cheating and stealing were only judged by their success: if you succeeded in getting over on someone, by any means, you earned respect for that. I was so ill-fitted for that world...a codependent crackhead, what a combo. I shared with people. I gave my dealer a birthday card. I was an anomaly in that world, and although the years I spent there eroded my scruples greatly, I clung to every scrap of honor that I could.

I will never forget that first time. For my first year and a half of sobriety, what was happening in front of me was a pale imitation of my memories of smoking rock: it's as though crack wrote on my memory in darker ink than anything else ever had. Coke itself didn't do that, but crack did. At this point in my life, what's happening in front of me is more real than anything: I am able to live fully in the moment, but it took a long time to relearn that. But that first time, I can't even describe. It was like life itself became this amazing comic book, everything was awesome, and I was a hero with boundless power and possibilities. It was more than that but I don't have the words. I smoked out for 3 days and it scared the crap out of me. I didn't touch it again for 8 months. But when I touched it again, it got me. It got me.

I wanted to write about one evening of those 2 years in hell, because that night sums it all up pretty well. I thought I could take the edge off of the hunger by smoking just a little weed. Two hits, that's it. And something happened: I ignited the phenomenon of craving, and I was utterly powerless to fight the craving. I have been physically and mentally addicted to everything but meth in my 30 years of getting loaded, but crack was different. The anxiety that went with the craving was like getting stabbed in the gut with a dull knife. It would double me over. There were times I would ride the craving out: I would just cry and cry because it was so fucking awful. But I usually didn't win the fight. That evening, I went out and made my purchase. Once I started, there was no stopping until I was out of options, and that took a while because I was pretty creative. At any rate, I kept going back, getting another $100 and going back, wanting it to be the last time every time - but when my supply started running low, the panic and the craving would hit and there I would go. Again.

This run happened a little before midnight. Candy's house was a rough place, but it was the only game in town at that moment, so I went there. While I was waiting for the negotiations to be completed, someone came in with a gun. Their beef was with her, not me, but I was there, wrong place, wrong time...I don't remember what I said, probably that I'd be leaving now, and he pointed the gun at me and told me to sit down and shut up. And I did, but not for the reason you're thinking. I had no fear of him. I went into dangerous situations with violent people on a regular basis, and I was never afraid of being hurt. The truth was that I didn't give a rat's ass if he shot me. I remember how empty I felt when he pointed that gun at me: there was nothing left inside of me except the hunger. Nothing. The only thing I was afraid of was that I wouldn't get my shit. THAT was horror. Nothing else mattered.

He left shortly afterwards. I got my shit. And an hour or two later, when I needed again, I went back to her place with no hesitation, no second thought. A man threatening me with a gun was simply a complication and an annoying delay, nothing more.

It is hard for me to imagine this now: my life is as peaceful as I can make it, and I learn more every day about how to live a more serene, spiritual and centered life. There is a song of me now: there was no song then. I was locked inside of a room that was barren except for the horror of knowing what I had become. Nothing could free me. And now, my world is full of color and light, love and other confusing emotions, and a hunger to find and fulfill my destiny, whatever that may be.

Hunger. I have been returned to the land of hunger. I was so thin back then: I am a size 12 now. I have learned to want for myself. I have found the courage to have dreams, and I am beginning to believe that if I work for them, they can come true. I hunger to share my heart with those who are still wandering: I am now one of the women who helps to bring the light. And I am writing this because I am no longer afraid of being known. I want to share who I am. Some people will not like me. The people I am supposed to have with me will still be with me, consoling and laughing as we stumble merrily along.

I am not always grateful, to have been returned to this land of hunger. I have big love, big anger, big hurt, and a lack of perspective when it comes to this life shit. I am learning. I am learning to forgive my own humanity, and in doing so I am learning to see the divine spark in you, too. You are all teaching me every day, and my gratitude is boundless. Again, thank you for listening: thank you for sharing this path with me.

January 30, 2011

    Getting sober was like being returned to the land of hunger in so many ways: I began to want things for myself, and I felt so utterly incompetent at life. 3 years later, what has changed? The man I lived with for 2 years dumped me because he doesn't like my son, and I have moved twice in the last two months. Both moves were bad ideas. I am currently homeless, although I have a place to stay and all that: and next week I will be moving in to the top floor of a friend's house until I can again save up enough money to get my own place. My life has been shaken up financially, romantically, physically and emotionally.

I also struggle with chronic physical illness which is unlikely to ever improve, but which is somewhat manageable: I live with a lot of chronic pain, and due to the fact that I'm a recovering addict, I am restricted  in what medications I can safely take. The good drugs are pretty much out of the question for me, other than for surgeries and such.

It seems I should be a lot further along than this. I don't look good on paper, that's for sure. But it's funny: I am more at peace in the middle of this uncertainty than I have been for a long, long time. I KNOW that everything will be fine. I don't believe that God brought me this far to dump me on my head now. I have also become the person I am today as a result of the circumstances I have lived through. Life has transformed me into this woman I am today, and I mostly like her.

I believe that we are here to listen to each other, and to be changed by listening to each other. What I want most in this world is to hear other people's stories. I want to moved by you. I want to hear your truth. And maybe after all this time, I want to speak my own truth. Maybe I have something to say that will move you, that will open your mind or your heart...I want to tell my stories somewhere, and I guess it starts here. Thank you for listening.