Tag Archives: addiction

Friends = Family = Fear

Day 382

I’ve made friends who have become family in this program.  It is spine-chilling.

Tonight my lights went out around 10:00, but restlessness turned them back on at midnight.  The “universal” iPhone text notification chirped right as my bulb clicked on and a friend (who is my family) asked if I was still awake.  So, SO, glad I was able to say “yes, what’s wrong.”

She was upset to the point that I was out of bed, downstairs, about to rev my truck, and call her sponsor en route.  The phone was probably feeling heavy to hold on the other end so I stayed and listened.  Thirty-five minutes later, the trepidation subsided.  Tomorrow is a new day.

There are certain types of fear I’ve thus far identified throughout recovery (which I may have already mentioned in previous posts); self-centered fear, anger infused fear, irrational fears, projection fears, and one hundred such variations.  The fear that floods me when it comes to my friends relapsing is the most real, and the most rational.  This is a deadly disease.

I know there are “tools” to deal with these frighteningly feasible thoughts, because we “all” have them.  Most of us have seen them come to pass.   No solutions to placate my current unease come to mind, which I suppose is why I’m writing.

What is must boil down to is faith…but I gotta admit, “faith” is sounding more like a word, and less like a feeling at the moment.

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Eff you, Haribo.

The best part about today was receiving this text:

January 27, 2014 8:35pm

“Today in awkward moments in sobriety…walking around A&P I found it cathartic to flip the bird to different bad things for me (donuts, beer, etc) somewhat discretely.  This inevitably led to a very confused woman, who came out of no where, seeing me giving a less than discrete bird and saying “not today” to a wall or haribo gummy bears.  Her face was priceless and I have no regrets.”


Two for you, none for me.

Two for you, none for me.

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Russell and I Didn’t Have That in Common

“Even as a junkie I stayed true [to vegetarianism] - 'I shall have heroin, but I shan't have a hamburger.' What a sexy little paradox.”

“Even as a junkie I stayed true [to vegetarianism] – ‘I shall have heroin, but I shan’t have a hamburger.’ What a sexy little paradox.”

Day 359

Looking back on my active days of alcoholism and addiction, the pure apathy is what scares me the most.  The idea of ever going back to that place of self-destruction keeps me white knuckling it in the rooms when “just one beer” sounds good.

The pot farm was where my body learned to function on nothing but poison; toxic thoughts kept me from caring about others and toxins in my body kept me from caring about myself.

Drinking 7 days a week was what kept me going.  When I’d wake up with a hangover threatening my sanity and my nose full of dry blow, the only panacea was more substance.  Sometimes I’d start at 8am.  Sometimes I’d wait til 12.  There was never more than 2 days without getting drunk…. and I simply didn’t care.

Every once in a while I’d look in a mirror and see lines on my face that were way too defined for a 25 year old.  I didn’t know at the time that my skin was drastically dehydrated from alcohol consumption.

During the months I had to wake up at 4am to pull tarps over light deps in the green house, it was often after going to bed at 2am.  Generally I was still drunk or almost hung-over.  It struck me as normal, and actually responsible, to do a couple lines beforehand to get the job done efficiently.   I ran on apathy.

The other day I asked someone, “is it bad to eat 3 clementines in one day?”   I had to pause and laugh at myself.  After everything I’ve done to my body, vitamin C should be the least of my worries.

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At the End of the Day….

Day 352
“Here’s one simple approach to the daily inventory.  We set aside a few minutes at the close of each day to sit quietly and check out our feelings.  Is there a knot, big or small, in our gut?  Do we feel uncomfortable about the day we’ve just finished?  What happened?  What was our part in the affair?  Do we owe any amends?  If we could do it over again, what would we do differently?
We also want to monitor the positive aspects of our lives in our daily inventory.  What has given us satisfaction today?  Were we productive?  Responsible?  Kind?  Loving?  Did we give unselfishly of ourselves?  Did we fully experience the love and beauty the day offered us?  What did we do today that we would want to do again?
Our daily inventory doesn’t have to be complicated to be effective.  It is a very simple tool we can use to keep in daily touch with ourselves.”
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Day 319




I wrote this around 4am:


It’s been one of those sleepless nights.  Instead of forcing my eyes to stay closed, I did what anyone would do–logged onto Facebook. (Hah.) Through the social grape vine I was sad to be informed that a friend from the past died a few days ago.  He overdosed.


When I failed out of college freshman year, my punishment was a little backwards—I got to enroll in the National Outdoor Leadership School, (NOLS).  My Dad was a NOLSee back in the 70’s when the program was just taking flight.  Back then, the expeditions were limited to its base, in Lander, Wyoming.  Dad said his old-school instructor hiked the bouldery mountains in cowboy boots.  By the time I got there, NOLS had expanded its courses worldwide.  I chose destination Mexico.


In 2006 NOLS was a perfect place for a kid like me…it was sort of a rehab…but freer, masked as a very expensive camping trip.  Nothing about NOLS suggests it as a rehabilitation program, but 11 out of my 12 classmates were coming off some form of substance.  (I’d been smoking weed almost every single day from 2003-2007; that’s over 1,000 days of being high, ew.)


Unbeknownst to me, the process of abruptly abstaining from drugs and alcohol the body goes through what is called “detox.”  Imagine 11 troubled nineteen-year-olds detoxing in the wilderness. Crazy town.


Over the course of 78 days my classmates and I came to know each other in every heartwarmingly good and infuriatingly bad way possible.  Anyway…For what would have been my sophomore year, I went to Baja, Mexico.


My friend who passed away was a member of FSB.  (Fall Semester Baja). I was in “Group 1” and he was in “Group 2.”  We saw each other in passing, at re-rations, and at breaks on the beach, where we’d swap stories of whale sharks, Mexican federales, and a new found love for banana chips. 


My friend had that light that you hope to see in everyone, and he didn’t have to dig deep to find it.  He made every moment feel like the best moment. He was compassionate, talented, and had no business dying.


When I saw the RIP’s and tributes on Facebook, I started to cry.  It’s been years since we last spoke, but its impossible to forget someone with such infectious positivity. He almost literally glowed. He was a true-blue surfer and I thought perhaps he died doing what he loved.  After reading his obituary it was revealed that he OD’d on heroin, and had been struggling with dope addiction for years.  It makes me feel like I know him even better, even though now he’s gone.  I wrote to him through the words of Einstein — ‘Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.’


Friends wrote, “You’re finally free.” 





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Disease-Doubt (Bear with me)

Day 276

There are two types of insecurities that run me around: self-doubt, and disease-doubt.  What’s disease-doubt?  I just made it up.  It’s the feeling I get when someone questions my alcoholism.

Self-doubt is what makes me feel inept, and fuels the “why even try” attitude; it’s in the same category as low self-esteem.  Fortunately, AA has been teaching me how to counteract insecurities by becoming a better person and finding out what the hokey pokey is all about.


Disease-doubt stems from a very specific source: an old friend.  Every once in a while, a former partner in crime will waltz back into my life and say/ask in response to my sobriety:

“But you’re not an alcoholic?”

In the beginning, I had the same reasoning as said friends; I was a happy drunk, and for the most part, a party animal.  What they didn’t know was that I hated myself, and what I didn’t know was why I hated myself.


I want to be sober, but when my decision is disputed by someone I care about, I doubt my disease. (Disease-doubt!)  It makes me feel foolish for being in AA, and throws my program for a loop.

In the right wrong state of mind, (that sounds weird) it’s easy to say:

“I wasn’t a daily drinker!”

(Never mind that I had to ask a friend every morning whether or not I had to be embarrassed of the night before.)

And then I’ll compare my coke habits to George Jung.

“I almost never did coke by myself!”

(Never mind that I’d go home with strangers, meet drug dealers in trailer parks, wait in parking lots for hours on end, and spend money I did not have.)

When I start making stupidly irrational justifications, I go to this quote for clarity:

“Alcoholism is 90% thinking, 10% drinking.”

No matter how bad, or not bad my substance abuse was there’s no refuting the fact that I can walk into an AA meeting, anywhere, and people in the room will understand, 100% of the time; we all speak the same language.

Speaking of language, they might even understand my new awesomely self-explanatory phrase “disease-doubt.”

(I googled group understanding and this is what came up…looks like AA to me.)


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Time Takes Time


Day 254

If I were to relapse, I think it’d be from pure nostalgia; a feeling that blindsides me from time to time.  It fills my head with happy recollections of the past that make me painfully resentful of the present.

I can’t justify banishing these bittersweet memories.  I lose myself musing in the life I’ll never recapture…. even though I know that the memories I relish in jeopardize my sobriety.

I rationalize indulging in nostalgia because it doesn’t make me behave irrationally the way other emotions do–like say, anger.

When I’m enraged in sobriety I have many outlets and opportunities to express my frustrations.  Typically I blame pedestrians who have the right of way by laying on the horn and yelling “cocksuckers,” at them, while waving my middle finger out the window.  Such maniac behavior is unreasonable, irrational, and generally pretty embarrassing.

But nostalgia doesn’t make me react on the outside; it breaks my insides.

A song came on a Pandora station today and transported me straight back to the pot farm, to the point that I could almost feel the weight of a condensation covered PBR, and smell stickiness from a harvest.

The Avett Brother’s ballad took me through 3 minutes of self-inflicted torture; I could have turned the song off the second it came on, but the emotional levy broke and I did nothing for it to be blocked.

It was like a slide projector of moments in time.  I saw the bonfires in the middle of our illegal Redwood’s playground, I saw the green Jeep Wrangler with no doors, me learning how to drive stick shift with a beer in the cup holder and a huge smile on my face.

I saw the orange sunset over the mountains and felt the feeling of freedom.  I felt bumpy trips down the rocky mountain in the grey pickup, and never worrying about the mud smeared on our legs or our boots covered resin.  I could smell the pour of gasoline into a generator and the sound of it coming to life.  I saw my friends and me sitting on the tailgates of trucks, nowhere in particular, just to drink because no one was telling us not to and no one ever would.

The track switched and I was jolted back to reality, as I always am when nostalgia strikes and ends.  I force myself to remember the shell of a human being I became, that a relationship I kept holding onto almost robbed me of all dignity, and remind my heart and mind that the fire red sunsets turned into grey coked out mornings; that the Wrangler was destroyed, and real laughs died out well before the end.

Still, sometimes I try to convince myself that the old life is obtainable some 3,000 miles away on a mountain full of freedom. Maybe it was for that time.  These notions are what could take me out.  I’ve heard that “time takes time,” and illustrations of the past do eventually fade; I’m just not entirely sure I want them to.

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You’re sick? Here, Prison Should Help

behind bars

My friend’s little brother is struggling with opiate addiction. Actually, he’s not little anymore; he’s 22 years old and has a good 5” on me.  Regardless, I’ve known him since he’s had chubby cheeks and temper tantrums; therefore I reserve the right to forever see him as a little brother.

The last time I saw “little brother,” was about a month ago; he was strung out and had the glazed over hollowness in his eyes that we all know.  My heart hurt for my friend and her family and for little brother’s future or lack there of.  I think the most frustrating part about being in this program is “getting it,” and seeing someone else missing “it.”

After seeing him that day I went home and expressed my troubled thoughts and feelings of helplessness to someone who was familiar with the situation.

“What happened?”  My confidant asked with concernment, referring to little brother’s reality, “he was such a good kid.”

He was such a good kid.  This notion makes me want to scream and yell and throw big books around, because the professed solicitude is misplaced.  The tragedy is not that he was such a good kid, it’s that he IS such a good kid, but the need for drugs has taken over his want to live.  I feel like when many people witness the disease taking over, they preemptively decide it’s the end.

There seems to be an understanding among those who don’t understand that once a fuck-up, always a fuck up, and you chose to be a fuck up.  You got an addiction, you fucked up.  What these people don’t see is that the “fuck up” is still a good person; the “good kid” is still inside, and what the kid needs is help, not judgment from society with an arms up, “see ya.”

When I voiced my despair over little brother, it didn’t matter to my confidant that he has a kind smile and a genuine laugh with a big heart.  To someone who doesn’t understand, those characteristics are engulfed by shameful addiction that probably could have been controlled if they had tried a little harder.

I read the St. Francis prayer every morning when I get out of bed to counteract whatever selfish thoughts are already brewing. The portion of the prayer that asks  “I may not so much seek to be understood as to understand,” rings relevant in this situation, but despite St. Francis, I’m am still wanting to be understood as a representative of the fucked up population.  What I’ve written here is a result of over-sensitivity, justified anger, and a self-centered demand for the world to rethink their stigma against addicts and alcoholics. All the same, I believe these wishes are warranted.

Of the 2.3 million inmates in the US, more than half have a history of substance abuse and addiction, and a large percentage of those million landed themselves in prison because of desperate busted attempts to feed their habit.  The punishment of people already being punished by a disease is fueled by convictions that drug users and alcohol abusers are good people gone bad; they are undeniably lost causes.

It doesn’t take addiction for a human to lose his or her way; everyone gets lost sometimes.  But those who don’t lose themselves in a bottle or baggie have a better chance of betterment, and why shouldn’t we all?  Help is available but not behind bars. Little brother IS a good kid and not was. Anyone’s genuine smile can be restored, but not if people decide for the sick that it’s already the end.

Day 247

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Me? An Alcoholic?

Who Me?

Day 222:

People of the rooms often say “you’re lucky to have found the rooms at such a young age.” Looking back, I wonder, what took me so long?

What took me so long was a skewed definition of what an addict/alcoholic looked like.  In my eyes alcoholics were besotted bums on the street, they were old men and women who’d lost everything.  They were the pathetic boozehounds who drunkenly pleaded for no one to leave the party as they  sloppily held onto a door frame.  (Okay, okay, I’ve been that person).  They were holed up somewhere, bogged down elsewhere, nursing a warm 40oz concealed in a brown paper bag.  Me?  An alcoholic?  Not possible, right?

Wrong.  It’s hard not to cringe at those past notions.  Alcoholism does not discriminate and certainly doesn’t care that I was born in a town wrapped in money and safety nets…can you believe it?

My image of what constituted an alcoholic in comparison to myself didn’t match up, because my belief was surface level.  Mass media’s portrayal of alcoholics was my go-to.  “I’m not an alcoholic because…”  Unfortunately and fortunately I was sold on the whole alcoholic thing on the first meeting. (Hated referring to myself as such for several weeks).

It was a cold night in February (as most east coast nights in February are), and the air smelled like winter.  Early that morning was my full surrender, a complete defeat, and self-hatred so intense I could feel it in my bones.  A series of coincidental, or destined events, (still not sure), took place and directed me to a church several towns over.  Pages could be written on that first meeting – how the room was circular, inviting, and had those festive, fake, but warming, luminescent candles in the windows.  Fear wanted me to bolt but I think faith kept me seated; something told me I was supposed to be there.  Not sure what I was expecting to hear, but it wasn’t what I heard.  What I heard were my thoughts.

Expecting a drunk-o-log, where alcoholics forlornly attempted to reconstruct their ruined lives, I was taken aback.  My most inner thoughts were being expressed through the mouth of a stranger.  The man talking said he was the party person, he was gregarious, affable, and had good friends, but in a room full of people he could feel completely alone. That’s where alcohol came in, an alcoholic’s panacea for all connection problems.  He spoke of the self hate that I’ve felt my whole life and right then I knew it was my thinking, not my drinking, that defined alcoholism.

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A New Freedom

Day 218

The topic tonight was freedom.

What I understood:  We were slaves to our addiction.  Our nights were predispositioned.  Drugs and alcohol made my decisions for me whether it was how late I stayed up, when I went home, if I went home, who I went home with, what I would feel like the next day, and how many hours or days it would be until I could do it again.

The first time I heard alcoholism called “the disease of more,” a light turned on in my head.  The sometimes dulling and sometimes roaring persistent thirst for alcohol barely scratched the surface of my irrational fear of never having enough.  This fear dominated my life then and it has a steady hold now.

My freedom used to be picking up and moving on; it was what outsiders called free spirited, and I now recognize as:  fear with a passport.

There was no way I could accomplish what my friends had, I would never have a job I was good at so why try at all, I would never be organized enough to dress myself professionally, I’m always disgusting, I don’t belong, no one takes me seriously, everyone can see right through me….the list of resentments and paranoias go on forever.  My self-doubt suffocated any and all hope for my future, until now.   Today I have choices.

Someone said in the meeting tonight: “the only person who can crush your dreams, is you.”

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