20 days clean today. Great, right? Doesn’t feel that way.
In fact it feels worse on some level. Because now I am left with me. The thought of doing things, even things that will benefit me, feels overwhelming. I feel like I’m walking through molasses. Am I depressed? Probably.
I burned my life to the ground and now at 45 I am starting over. All while trying to act and feel normal; to be a parent and a partner, but that’s a just a facade. My wife knows I’m not well. While she’s happy that I’m not getting high and stealing money to do so, or traumatizing her and our son in a cocaine psychosis, it’s not easy living with me. She knows I’m fighting my addiction. And it’s not even just about using. There’s a part of my brain, the addiction, that doesn’t want me to get well. The worse I feel, the greater the need for escape. And eventually I will be in so much pain that I’ll end up alone with a needle and some blow. That’s the endgame of my addiction.
Side note: a number of months ago the addiction therapist I was seeing wanted me to see my addiction as “other” than my true self. My wife already did. She said it’s the only reason she’s still around. Otherwise I’m just a lying, stealing, manipulative, junkie asshole. I struggled with that concept. It’s thoughts are mine. So it was suggested we give the addiction a name. I asked her what we should call it and she paused and said, “Eddie”. I loved that because I immediately thought of the Iron Maiden mascot – a demonic figure named “Eddie”. My wife had no idea what I was talking about (She likes Taylor Swift not Iron Maiden), so I showed her a picture of Eddie. She said, “That is EXACTLY what your addiction looks like”.
So on a daily basis I’m fighting with Eddie. Eddie, according to my wife, is the most skilled and manipulative thing she’s ever encountered. She once said, “If you could put your addictive energy to good use you’d rule the world”. Sadly, career advancement is not what my addiction wants. So every day I have to force myself to get out of bed, when all I want to do is sleep. I want to spend all my time binge watching netflix and eating junk food (and I do, a lot). Why? Because it’s an escape. And sugar is a replacement high. So yeah, I’m 20 days clean but I’m not well. I’m going to therapy and pushing myself to get back to 12 step meetings, but I am fighting myself, fighting Eddie, at each turn. Which is maddening. Those things, along with smaller things like cleaning up around the house or putting a resume together so I can get back to work, are things that make me feel better. But each day, each hour I let pass by sitting on the couch, makes me feel worse. The worse I feel the more I want to feel better. But I’m hardwired to look for the quick fix. It really is a form of insanity. And I know where binging on carbs and “The Walking Dead” leads me. Back to the needle. Tangentially speaking, I do relate to The Walking Dead. Sadly, not Rick or Michonne or even Negan. Nope, I’m the walking corpse. Only taking, feeding off of others.
There’s a term used in 12 step meetings called “character defects”. As in, we have a lot of them and need to get the fuck rid of them. I always remember an old-timer saying to me “If you want to find all your character defects, get in a relationship”.
There is nobody better suited on this planet to list my character defects than my wife. She can, and has, listed them off rapid fire. Sometimes in anger, sometimes frustration and sometimes with compassion because she says, “but you’re more that just a selfish, dishonest and manipulative person. You have a kind soul, you care about others, you want people around you to be happy and you’re one of the smartest people I know.” (NOTE: the smartest people she knows thing was a while ago. Now she, and I, are worried that I’ve gotten much dumber because of injecting coke. My vocabulary’s shot, I forget things, I can’t spell for shet, I go off on tangents…Fuck I did it again)
Pretty much everyone in my wife’s life has told her to leave. Hell, I have. It’s the sane thing to do. She said she’s staying to be a good person and because she believes in the real me. And because she’s not going to have wasted the last 7 years. She’s a fighter. The opposite of me. I’ve never met anyone like her – she will get the job done no matter what the cost. And the truth is, I’m afraid she’s going to write a companion piece to this and any sympathy and empathy readers may have for me is out the window. Because she has been through hell for many years. The years leading up to the relapse. The relapse itself. Discovering that for the year I was using opiates in secret she KNEW something was wrong but was constantly denied. I remember one night, a month before I had to admit the truth, we were at our cottage – yep I’m a junkie with a cottage (that I might lose because of the massive debt I’ve incurred) and I had gone to the bathroom to get ready for bed (shoot up) and was walking to the bedroom. The next thing I remember is her shouting, with tears streaming down her face, “What’s wrong with you?? What is happening?” I had no idea what she was talking about. Apparently I had froze, mid-stride for 30 seconds. I calmed her down and promised I would see a neurologist. That I thought there was something wrong with my brain……
Another time (also at the cottage. I used up there a lot) she said, “Do you know where all our spoons have gone?”
So when I finally told her the truth, she was beyond devastated. You see, it wasn’t just that I had been secretly using drugs; it was that she knew in her gut, something she’d always trusted, that something was wrong and had been constantly denied, lied to, told she was being paranoid, that she was overreacting. That was actually worse than me using drugs. She could handle that. It was the betrayal and denial of what she knew in her bones that did the most damage. Draining all the money out of our savings account didn’t help either though.
We started seeing a couples counsellor this past winter, who also specialized in addiction. He told me that he thought we had a future but it wouldn’t be easy. And that partners of addicts almost always have the same emotional and behavioural reactions as partners of infidelity. Which makes sense. I cheated on her with drugs. I lied. I deceived. I only cared about one thing – getting high.
So where does all that leave us? Not in a great place. Going back to what I said earlier, that every day is a struggle to get out of bed, to accomplish even small tasks, makes it REALLY hard for her. She’s trying to be compassionate but at the same time she wants to, and does, say, “Get your shit together and do some of the basic things!”. And that’s when Eddie whispers “But you’re sick. You’re barely clean. You need your rest. She doesn’t understand. You’re doing your best and she should get off your back. At least you’re clean. She should let you lay on the couch and watch Netflix all day.”.
Looking at myself as I actually am, not as I want to believe I am.
I need to get out of the house. I need to walk the dog (as I’m now 35lbs overweight from switching from cocaine to Haagen-Das and Pringles), go to a meeting, talk with other addicts, and so much more. Because at the end of the day the drugs weren’t the true problem. They were my solution to a much deeper problem. Granted, a terrible solution, but one that let me escape and not look at the real problem: the sickness in my soul that eats away at me. That tells me not to bother trying because it’s too much and I’m a piece of shit that only cares about myself. That I don’t deserve any better than being alone in a room with a bottle of vodka and a rig full of heroin. (Or coke. I’m not picky)
That’s what I have to fight on a daily basis. And the worst part is that I often believe those things. Which is why my wife wants me in therapy. But what does she know – she’s the one who’s been living with a junkie these last 2 years. Nope, that’s Eddie. He can suck a bag of dicks because as hard as it has been, and will be in the near future, she has stuck by and been supportive and loving and kind. Angry, pissed off and frustrated as hell too. But to not be those things WOULD be crazy. Even though it’s tough I love her and can see she loves me.
But sometimes it takes more than love and neither of us know for certain if we’ll make it.
Also, go fuck yourself Eddie.