Well, if you're not an addict or alcoholic, you may or may not ever understand what it is like to be me; however, even those who understand it somewhat can never really know what it is like to be one of us.
I am writing this today because, well, I'm not sure why I'm writing this today. Perhaps I am grateful for the support I have received from you guys; maybe I'm just letting you get to know me; or possibly I need you to understand why I have struggled so much lately with some seemingly minor stuff.
There are as many different reasons for using for the first time as there are addicts. In the end, though, for all addicts, the result is the same. We use because we cannot deal with life, we cannot handle our emotions, we are afraid.
Looking back, I can honestly say that every single decision I ever made in my life was based in fear. Fear that I would fail, fear that I would look stupid, fear that I would get hurt, fear that I would succeed, fear that you would expect something of me that I wasn't capable of giving, fear that I would not meet some arbitrary standard (usually set by myself at some impossible-to-meet level).
I could tell you that I used because I was happy, and I used when I was sad. I used when I was angry, when I was afraid; I could describe all sorts of situations that would give me justification for using. Ultimately, I used to not feel. Because feelings are bullshit. I used so I didn't have to feel. I used to fill that void inside of me, that great black nothingness that threatened to swell from within me and completely consume me.
I would engage in the worst sort of behaviours to maintain my using and my lifestyle. I would use all sorts of manipulations to get what I wanted from whoever I wanted something from. I would cry, plead, bargain, blackmail, whatever it took.
So, these days, in recovery, I have started to learn how to live. I have started to learn to experience my emotions and get through them. Feelings are still bullshit, y'all, but at least I've figured out that they won't kill me. I've learned that the only thing that can fill that void inside of me is spirituality.
Does that mean that I just breeze through life now?
I still fix, just not on drugs. Have you not paid attention to my never-ending battle with my clothes over closet space? Have you not noticed the constant references to new shoes? Have I not ever told you that at some given moment, my feelings taste like peanut butter cookies or some other sweet delight?
I still struggle with fear.
These days, my biggest fear is that I am unemployable. Now, my logical mind knows that I am good at lots of things I do, and would be a valuable employee to a company.
My disease, on the other hand, tells me that nobody wants to hire a 42 year old convicted felon recovering addict that just now graduated from college. My disease tells me that I am not capable of running my own business. My disease tells me that even if somebody does want to hire me, they will soon discover that I am an idiot and subsequently get rid of me. My disease and my fear tell me that my Sunshine will get sick of my idiocy and trade me in on a more stable model.
My disease and my fear wake me up at night. I cannot breathe. My disease and my fear have me feeling almost paralyzed right now. The fear has the adrenaline coursing through my veins; my skin feels tingly and my extremities feel a bit numb. It is difficult to breathe. It feels like my heart is beating too fast. I feel both prickly hot and painfully cold, and no jacket or blanket or air-conditioner would solve either problem. I feel like any solid food would just get stuck in my throat right now.
Yes. Right now. Why?
Because I have been sitting in front of this computer for about an hour already this morning, submitting my resume to the employment service near the swamp where I live. I have printed a few applications off of the internet to fill out and submit in person. I am struggling with the decision to compose an email to the head of human resources at the local council on alcoholism. I am afraid, y'all. What if I can't find a job? What if the job I just walked away from was as good as it was going to get?
There are, thankfully, days where the fear is kept at bay and I almost forget that it wants to eat me for lunch. There are days when I can just enjoy the sunlight, and the feel of my little puppy laying on my chest while Sunshine holds my hand. There are days when the music lifts my soul to the heavens. There are days that just smell good and I wish the moment would never end.
Today is not one of those days. Yesterday wasn't either. Maybe tomorrow will be better.
Ultimately, yesterday and today are out of my control. So I guess I better return to this moment and go calm my puppy down, because she is very upset by the thunder and rain this morning. As for the thunder and rain, I find it is soothing my spirit. Have you ever heard the sound of rain on a tin roof? Well, that's almost what it sounds like when rain falls on the roof of the magic bus. That is music to rest to, y'all.