Sunday, September 27, 2009

What am I?

Sitting with my sponsor talking about our lives and the paths that brought us to where we are.  Discussing openly the things that brought us to our knees and made us ask, and in my case beg, for help.  What am I? Am I an addict, an alcoholic?  The truth is I am both because I am.  I spent 6 years shoving things up my nose, into my mouth, into my veins, and 6 years I let it suck the life out of me.  Take my soul and mask that after the fact with booze.  I can count on one hand the times that I was drunk before I quit doing speed, so how can I pretend that the drugs weren't as big of a problem as the booze?  If I forget I am destined to fall.  The truth should probably be told: the truth as I remember it to the best of my ability....

I was 14 the first time I tried speed.  It was at a party and I will NEVER forget how it made me feel.  Internally I was laughing when the moment came because I felt like I was in a bad afternoon school special.  But looking back even now, I recall that I always thought the kids in those specials just took it too far or reacted poorly.  Sick thinking even then.  I did only two tiny little bumps throughout the night and for the first time the girl I always knew I was on the inside was brought out from under her shell.  I was bouncy and social, talkative and fearless.  Looking back I am sure I was totally spastic and tweeky, but at the time I felt so powerful and in control of me.  I knew that I never wanted to lose that feeling. 

As my timeline progressed, I found more and more ways to try new things and more and more ways to get back to speed.  It became a hidden agenda to keep that powerful feeling.  I maintained fairly well for a good amount of time.  Secretly using here and there just to catch the edge of things.  I was very controlling about how much I used and when for a long period of time.  I didn't want to risk getting caught or being made an example  and losing it all.

I switched schools and thought I might find it harder to get what I wanted, but funny enough it became easier as I spent more and more time downtown and away from my suburban upbringing.  I made friends with the "right" people and became connected to a scene that made my usage all the easier.  I dabbled here and there with other substances.  I did a lot of acid, e, tried k, coke, shrooms, nitrous, even smoked heroin, but none of it gave me the same high that meth did.

I moved out at 18, truth be told, so that I could continue this lifestyle and get more fucked up.  My level of controlling my intake and my usage was overlapping at this point very badly with my life, and the next two years became nothing more than the purpose of getting it and using it.  My friends were all fucked up, my life was all fucked up, and my body was suffering because of it.  I woke up to doing lines, I could sleep, eat and manage while high.  It was a need now and not just a want.  It was a way of life.

I could bore you with all the sick details of what I did during those times, the fucked up things that I saw, the grotesque nature and lifestyle we maintained, but it doesn't matter.  What matters is that it ALL effected me.  I am not sure at what point my fun turned to fix, nor am I any more certain about which moment tipped the scales in favor of me living a life that would kill me.  To this day I can still feel the anxiety and clammy palms when I talk about my usage.  I still feel the tingle and can still remember the taste/feel/high.

It was this foray into drugs that eventually led to my drinking.  It was December of '98 and I was living with a girlfriend trying to kick speed.  I was detoxing pretty badly and was a total mess.  It was a quick fix to drink to calm the sick, fever, and anxiety, so I drank.  And from the get-go I drank hard.  I was a blackout drunk from the start.  I just wanted to numb and forget all the drugs and shame, not thinking twice about the trade that I just made.  I feel a sad sickness recalling it all.  It was a pivotal moment that took me away from any chance at recovery and led me down a new path to even lower depths.  I really, genuinely thought that I was going to be ok because I wasn't going to use speed ever again...

I spent the next several years drinking myself silly with friends who were on the same mission to party that I was.  We gravitated to each other in a sick little circle of hurt, deceit, manipulation.  We overlapped boundaries that normal people would not have had to think about.  We pushed each other harder, farther and faster for the thrill of it all.  I thought I had found a family of people that got me.  People that would always be my friends, my circle, my crowd.  But it's easy to find that group when you all have a single minded purpose.  I have found that same "group" in many a bar & drug scene.  Dysfunction gravitates towards dysfunction naturally.  like speaks to like, right?

When it was all said I done, I had spent another 5 years getting fucked up before being forced into a position where I had to either scrounge some way of keeping my job or losing what I thought was everything.  So in 2003 I came forward and said I was an alcoholic to keep my job.  I knew in my heart of hearts that I really was an addict and an alcoholic, but admitting it and having to try to be sober when it was the last thing I wanted to do was going to be a task for sure.  I really started to believe throughout the process that maybe there was something to be said for staying sober.  I had to go to a.a. meetings, I had to keep a journal, meet with a counselor, and report back to my job.  I went to 4 weeks of rehab, and managed to stay sober for about a month after I left.

I wasn't any happier.  I was actually more miserable as the chemistry in my body was trying to balance itself out.  I sought no after-care, because I wasn't ready to stop drinking/using for the REST OF MY LIFE.  That concept was so unfathomable for me.  I gradually tested the waters, a drink here or there, maybe some pills when I was feeling down, and soon enough it was on again.  It took me only a matter of one month of being out to fuck it all up again.  During this time I was getting involved with drugs again more heavily, mainly coke to keep an even keel with the booze.

By 2004 I was full blown back into drugs and booze.  I was dating on and off, and come November of 2004 I met my ex for our first date.  I was already pretty toasted when we met at the bar to go to the show, and by the end of the night we ended up back at his place.  I don't recall sleeping with him, or even the ride home to his house and woke up with that shameful feeling of the morning after.  I was racking my brain, wishing that I could recall more than making out at the bar after the show, but I just couldn't bring anything to the forefront.  I was so hungover that I couldn't even manage small talk.  I was in pain and just wanted a beer and my bed.  And this is the point from which we jumped off...

We moved pretty quickly those first few months.  We ended up moving in together and getting our own place by the end of February 2005, and within a month I was pregnant.  Our relationship was volatile from the start.  His compulsive lying and deceit and my "dry drunk"/pregnant mood swings made for a pretty crazy time.  I loathed him for his lying and hated myself for wanting booze/drug/fun more than him.

I quit everything while I was pregnant -smoking, drinking, drugging.  It is the only time that I actually maintained a good stretch of sobriety.  I didn't want to be sober, but I couldn't make the decision for the little person growing inside me.  I was angry at Russ for me being pregnant, even though I was just as responsible.  It does take two.  During all this time both of our lives were in turmoil planning to be parents trying to be a couple and learning who each other really was.  I was trying to be a good mother-to-be and a good girlfriend all the while not trusting the situation at all.  It was easy to turn the focus from my brain to Russ during this time.  His lies were so easily unraveled and I could sniff out the bullshit like a bloodhound.  His compulsive lies and behind the back behavior created just enough stress and tension for me to excuse the anger I felt and hurt I caused.

I gave birth to our son one day after our one year anniversary and was instantly smitten with the little man I met.  I knew instinctively everything I had to do.  I thought nothing of booze or drugs or my hurts when I saw him and heard him.  Becoming Tibby's mom was more natural than anything I ever experienced.  He was my baby and I was his mama.  I was almost scared at how easily he fit into my world.  I expected this whole time to just go back out.  In the back of my mind I was gonna be able to play and drink again once this whole birth thing was out of the way...but it didn't cross my first.

I managed fairly well until I went back to work.  It wasn't long after that Russ and I had a blow out and I went out and got smashed with my co-worker.  I slept at her apartment and suffered a horrible hangover the next day.  Russ came with Tibby to visit and somehow each time things crumbled we just picked up the pieces and glued it back the best we could.  We were not in love with each other any more than we loved who our own person was inside the walls.  Russ was insecure and needy, I was empty and hurtful.  I had nothing to give him and he had nothing for me.  But we pushed on.

I was mad at myself for getting drunk, but it set the ball in motion.  I began to sneak drinks around the house when he was gone.  I would get just a little tipsy and put everything away.  It was gradual, just a few days where I might have a shot or sip on something.  I would justify this all to myself with my sick logic and think things were ok....and I clung to him for dear life, because his faults were as huge as mine and I would rather have had the dysfunction that we shared than have nothing.

Then it all came crashing down...and rather than drink, I started smoking again...

I put the bottle down for what I thought was for good.  I could not imagine trying to get through losing Tibby if I was drunk...I was already enough of a wreck and I didn't want to forget anything that happened during that time.  I needed to remember.  So I stayed sober for most of the next year...not well mind you, just sober...

It was February of 2007 and I was fucking sick and tired of watching everyone of my friends come over and get drunk and play and have fun while I sat back and watched or babysat.  Our whole crowd partied together and the depths of it during that time were shallow at best.  So I picked up and had 2 shots and a beer at the end of February, and again the cycle began.  I was on anti-depressants that interacted badly with my chemistry and made me more depressed so I drank more and created a vortex of emptiness.  I can't blame Russ for wanting to escape it as much as I was trying to.  He just did a better job at leaving than I could or knew how to.  If I could have just laid down and died I would have.  I was dying but too scared to kill myself or stop.  I remember nightly how I would just try to will my life to just stop, my breath to cease and the pain to go away.  I was miserable with the stranger next to me and even more discontent with the emptiness inside me.  When Tibby died, it felt like he took my heart with him.  I hurt without him more than I could manage with Russ, so I drank.

Russ and I could have ended each other's misery a long time before July of 2007 if we had just given up sooner.  I knew he was no good for me.  His constant lying and manipulation paired with his ideas of what I was supposed to be bore into me more than I care to admit.  Not that I am in any way blameless throughout.  My judgement of him, my anger over his repeated patterns, my deceit and desperate attempts at being a sober wore down our shine just as quickly.  We were a match made in hell.  Both with more problems than solutions and we hung onto it for all it was worth.

This is where my final final spiral began...


  1. You've been working really hard. I know it's not easy, but keep it up. I'm proud of you.

  2. I wish you the best, Lyss. I have always seen you as a strong person. If anyone can overcome with a roar, it is you.

  3. thanks ladies - you are all pretty strong/tough/resilient yourselves...

  4. Lyss, your words and your thoughts are so real and so rough and that is what makes them completely beautiful! Your openness is brave to say the least and I hope healing as well.