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[ Personal Narratives ]

Sober, and At My Rock Bottom

These days, I don’t feel myself, for the simple reason that I’m no longer sure who I am. I’ve told a thousand versions of the same stories for the last decade, and through these revisions I don’t think any of them are entirely true anymore. I’m a daughter, a sister, a wife, an aunt, and an addict. Most people have never been formally introduced to the latter, but she was always there, that much I can promise. And God, am I lonely. In a city with four million people and I’m lonelier than I’ve ever been. Maybe it’s my fault, shutting everyone I know out for all these years, but it was never what I intended.

I was entirely content in my addiction. I was successfully self medicating my depression that was otherwise suicidal. My grades were still decent. I had friends for the first time. For me, there was no rock bottom. Not then. My rock bottom is happening now, in sobriety, entirely backwards, and I have no fucking idea what to do.

Around the end of my senior year of high school, I got into a relationship that I initially figured wasn’t going anywhere. She knew I was using, though not to what extent, and we were still getting to know each other when she told me that she wasn’t going to stick around if I was high all the time. Being the pro that I was at hiding my usage, I agreed and decided I’d figure out the details of getting clean later. A year later it was increasingly clear that I was incapable of stopping, and I now had a girlfriend who thought I was already clean. My solution was to move across the country to cut myself off from any connections I had.

It worked for a while. For five months, the longest stretch of sobriety I’d had in years, I got a decent job, an apartment, we were planning a wedding. Then my girlfriend sprained her shoulder and I, being a professional manipulator, got her prescription of painkillers. I used her 30+ day supply in less than a week, and began drinking heavily as soon as it ran out. Fast forward another year and we’re married, and moving home on incredibly short notice for a family emergency. I relapsed the first day we were back.

I am a master thief. No, don’t bother to hide your money, your jewelry, your credit cards. I just want your drugs, and even in that aspect I’m considerate. I check the expirations on all of your bottles of OxyContin, morphine, dilaudid. If it’s within the prescribed timeframe and you’re using them, fine, keep them. But if you’re one of the common people who fill a prescription, take one or two, and then tuck the bottle into your medicine cabinet until a few months after they expire, I’m more than happy to swap your Vicodin out for Excedrin and you’ll never know the difference. This is my game, and it’s a game I played on and off for two more years in total secrecy. I felt fantastic. I was escaping the emotional weight of family problems, I was managing my depression, I was eerily calm inwardly. In those two years I didn’t spend a cent on drugs. No, all of my money went into two dollar bottles of wine, a half dozen a go, slews of green bottles during the droughts of orange bottles. I only went into serious withdrawal twice on that system, which wasn’t a bad deal as far as I was concerned. My conscience caught up with me once or twice, in those fleeting moments of clarity, and I even made one serious attempt to get clean. I lasted another five months before I relapsed again.

I knew I was in deep. Too fucking deep to admit to my wife that I’d fucked up. She’d congratulate me every now and then on my three, then four years sober, and I’d avert my pinpoint pupils and feel like absolute shit. She didn’t want to put up with my problems from the beginning; how was I supposed to tell her that most of our relationship had been based on a lie? I justified keeping my secrets by promising myself I’d get clean, and it would make it all okay, she’d never know the difference. Besides, if I told her she’d probably leave me and then I’d just start using again, so really it was good for both of us, right?

We decided to move across the country again. Heroin was becoming serious business at home and I knew I had to get out before I fell into another hole. My first day off pills was our first day on the road. I drank the nights away at hotels, and agonized silently during the days. It’s been nearly four months since I’ve touched opiates, and I’ve attempted to stop drinking at least three times since. I think I might be two weeks sober, but to be honest I’m not sure. I’ve slipped up too many times to keep track.

I think about using all day every day, if only to quiet the louder demons in my head. I’ve heard it can take six months or more before your brain really begins to function on any sort of normal level, and I really hold onto a lot of hope that that’s true. It’s very strange to me to know so little about a disease I’ve had almost half of my life. I’ve done a lot of research and ended up with nothing but conflicting information, and I’ve never been to an NA meeting. My wife “doesn’t think it’s healthy” for me to be around other addicts and to be honest, the thought of social situations freaks me out. There’s another anomaly: I feel so fucking lonely but get freaked out around people.

So here’s my rock bottom. I’m sober. I’m struggling immensely with a guilt that would probably destroy a lot of people if I came clean. My marriage is rocky because my wife likes me better when I’m using, and she doesn’t even realize it. You could say my current rock bottom was precipitated by events that were part of my active addiction, and I guess you’d be right, but it doesn’t change how dark of a place it is, and I’m holding onto the wisp of a hope that it can only get better from here.