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[ Personal Narratives ]

On the Other Side of the Door

I sat in my living room, hearing the whirring sounds of the fan above my head as the blades swung in their circular fashion. I looked all around at the world that I live in today. A clean, organized, everything must be in it’s place regiment that has become the safe refuge for the mess I used to be.

BECOMING> Have you ever looked into your past to see it play before your eyes, and the life you see is of someone you don’t recognize anymore, as if your past life happened in a scope in time completely out of your time radar? Today, I received a call from a dear friend, someone who I have become really close to, he’s like that older brother I once wished I had but never really got. He called to remind me that a recovery meeting would be happening tonight at 7pm. I put down the phone and instantly texted my girl friend to remind her that I was attending and I hoped she might come. Then I sat there, in my living room, on one of my couches… and I stared at my bookcase where I have kept my Life’s Healing Choices book, but have refused to open again. When do you know that you’re over an addiction? Perhaps never… perhaps always.

My life was never pretty. I was born into an alcoholic addicted home and I suppose, even unknown to me there must have been a pretty heavy usage of drugs involved in my early surroundings. I know that life just was, and I was sober until I was 16 which is when coping with my parents behaviours and words became a MUST instead of a want. In order to cope, my weapon of choice, and because it was the most inconspicuous, was a daily morning screwdriver tucked into my sports bottle. My parents and teachers thought it was juice, and I knew I was self medicating. I told myself I was creating a wall so that the words wouldn’t creep out of my brain and into my mouth and into the world… that my parents were being hapless with their children. Because I loved my brothers too much to bring them even more extra pain, the pain of being ripped away from the only family they knew at the time. Today, I’m at least at peace in knowing that my brothers, no matter how hard things got, they have each other.

Becoming an addict was a process that took a long time. I didn’t have a childhood, and I drank, smoked and shot my early adult life away. At 21 years of age, I remember sitting in a jail cell, looking up at a white ceiling, lit up by bright white LED lights that highlighted the orange jumpsuits that had become our fashion. Going through withdrawals, shaking from the coldness that ran into my bones, this agonizing desire to feed on anything that was not warranted for the human body. Anything at all. See, my drug of choice by this time was something that was a silent partner in crime. My addiction was odorless, transparent, and left no outside trace… it was a gas… tetrafluoroethane (HFC-134a), commonly known as “compressed air”.

It took time, I’m sure – for me to get clean of the drugs. Drugs – everything from marijuana, ecstasy, pain killers, acid, cocaine, whoopits – and liquor. Not all consumed at the same time, of course. But the hardest one to get rid of was this one… Tetrafluoroethane. It was widely available, vastly unknown of, and completely low cost. I sat in jail and was cleaned of the stuff in my system. But my habits, who was going to clean those. My thoughts? What do I do about the triggers? My anger, my irritability, my fight and flee response. Simple. I wouldn’t. I saw that, sitting there in that cold and damp winter cage, In Ohio, at 30 degrees and under outside, and pretty cold inside… with nothing but an orange jumpsuit to my name. I assessed what it was like on the other side of the gate. In the world, the people that I had hurt up until this point, and the one I hurt the most was myself. My self – forgiveness for myself was also the hardest part of this process.

I remember that somewhere in between the straight A student who excelled in school and got beat at home, to the jailed up junkie I had now become, to the processing person I was at that moment in time… somewhere in between … I had been pregnant. Somewhere in the middle of all the confusion and mess, I had a child, and that child had died without ever being born, died before it’s time. Today, the hardest part of coping with it all is knowing that a part of me didn’t want this child, was not ready for a child, could not love a child. So my brain did what my brain does to keep me sane… it took all memories of the child, and placed them behind the door to “do not open”.

Then… then one day I sat in this cage I was trapped into, no… that I had put myself into, and I thought I heard a voice in my subconscious tell me, “come home” – I knew this voice, it was familiar. I had heard it before, when I was a little kid. This was the voice of God. He was telling me to come to Him, to let my inhibitions go, to renounce the world and seek after his Peace. I knew this. I knew deep within me, but I didn’t want to take on the responsibility that it meant to be a “child of God” that would be too much responsibility, too much work, it was not for me. So I ran away, and the more I ran away, the louder the voice in my head got. Until… until one day I remember it was after lockup and so it must have been around 8pm, and I finally trusted… I lay my head in my hands, and I made a simple prayer. “I am here – you have complete control of my life – you haven’t taken me yet even though many times I have tried to leave. I place my life in your hands, not to die, but so that you can live through me – direct my steps and tell me what to do and I will do it”. That was my prayer. It was 3am when the call came, and I was released from my cell.

When I was free at last, on the other side of the gate and back in the real world, life became a repetition of habits and behaviors and we learn to flow with whatever is happening. So much so, that we may forget what is happening around us… which is how I fell back into old habits, with same friends, and did things I was feeling convicted over. Change overtook me… I cut off all old ties, left behind family and friend and physically placed them and all the places where relapse happened into the “do not open” door. That’s where they have stayed, for many many days … and now, I’m about to open some doors that I have to talk about – and I see them, the memories and they seem to be of a person long ago.

Married now – for a couple of years, working through the temperament, the coping process. Now on to the last process, which is being able to speak to others about the things, the triggers, the details – without going back there or picking up any of it. That’s the hardest part – because inside, the thirst – for that which is completely wrong – the thirst doesn’t get quenched. The desire is still there, but my desire to rise above and be a “complete” person, a whole person who has complete awareness and complete clear mindedness in everything that she does or says, that’s the desire that wins over, to be a better person than I was before. Now, off to meeting. I still don’t know what I’m going for, other than I need it… it’s been years since I’ve been to any meeting of this sort, and this one – this might be different – because I’m different now.