Me – The short(ish) version…
I really need to choose a topic for my posts… otherwise they’re probably going to wind up following my typical train of thought. A to Q to V to R to C to D to L to M… well, you get the point. I jump around so fast I can barely keep up with myself, so expecting others to would be asking a bit much, I’d think. But here I am typing my third post, and I haven’t even really bothered to tell anything about myself (other than the fact that I have issues). So I guess that’s what I’m gonna write about today. The whole getting to know me, who I am, why I’m here deal. THIS will be the post that will probably cause most to take off running and screaming :).
So here it is. These are just the basics – I’m sure as time goes by I’ll go much deeper into each one.
I’m 34 years old, a mom of 2 boys. One is 18 (the big boy) and is out of school, living with extended family. He was what you might call a “problem” teenager – serious addiction issues, on probation, in and out of placement – though he’s been like a different kid the past 6 months. Clean, staying out of trouble, etc., now, he just needs a J-O-B. The second is 14 (the little one) and lives in a group home for terminally ill/ severely disabled children (that’s a whole series of posts in itself). I live with my wonderful fiancee, Jeff. The wedding will be as soon as my (oh-so-long-overdue) divorce from my ex (a 16 year abusive marriage) is final. The only positive out of that marriage was the 2 wonderful boys. Both boys have no contact with their biological father, and consider Jeff their dad. Jeff and I were teenage sweethearts who lost contact for 17 years then reconnected thanks to Facebook… and have been back together ever since – almost 3 years now. It’s rare to get a second chance with “the one who got away”, I know how blessed we are to have been given that shot.
That was the easy part. Here’s some of the more… well, intimidating (for me to write about) stuff.
I’m a recovering addict. And by recovering, I mean working on getting clean, but not quite there yet. We’re currently (sort of?) homeless, living in a hotel. That’s because we lost almost everything – the beautiful home we were renting, our car, the majority of our possessions, our enormous rent/security deposit, and our credit for defaulting on all our payments when we were arrested for drug possession and spent 3 months in jail. That’s only the material aspect of it. We lost a lot more than that… custody of our (then 17 year old) son, our dog and 2 cats, and relationships with the majority of Jeff’s family and a good portion of mine. Started this post… Friday afternoon? It’s now Sunday evening and I’m just returning to it. Gonna just keep going as if I never stopped. We were lucky enough to get off with just time served and probation, but we violated probation (another story in itself), and are still waiting to find out the outcome of that. Knowing the possibility of a multi-year prison sentence is hanging over my head complicates things quite a bit when it comes to anxiety and stress. But all of that isn’t ME. It’s not who I am. It’s something that I did, that I will eventually need to deal with the legal consequences of. Right now, the temporary consequences are severe anxiety and
borderline fear of leaving my hotel room.
I’m not a junkie you’d cross the street to avoid. I’m someone you’d smile at in line at the grocery store, my son may have gone to high school with your teenager. Your younger child may be one of the volunteers in my son’s special needs classroom. Until fairly recently, you’d have bumped into us at Home Depot on a Saturday morning, picking out flowers for the front garden, or a new paint color for the living room (not much of a need for Home Depot trips when you live in a hotel). Maybe not EVERY Sunday morning, but some – you might sit next to us at church. We’re a couple, deeply in love with each other, trying to help each other through one of the most difficult things we’ll ever have to accomplish, all while trying not to fall apart ourselves.
It’s truly amazing what the combination of a chronic pain disorder and an innocent prescription for an opiate pain reliever from a well meaning doctor can lead to. Cross that with a high tolerance for medications and an addictive personality, and this is where it can lead. And it’s not just me – I can’t tell you how many women I met during those 3 months in jail that were leading perfectly normal, law-abiding, everyday lives, and then came the opiates. But what do you do when the pain is so bad it leaves you unable to function? Unable to care for your kids, or hold down a job, or keep up with the house? You all of a sudden have hope when the doctor says “here, this will help with the pain”… and it DOES help. All of a sudden you can get up in the morning, without tears. You can get the kids ready, go to work, clean the house, be a MOM again. And then you notice that they’re not working as well as they were – so you tell the doctor. And he increases your dose. And over, and over, and over again. Until you’re at the maximum allowed by law, and it’s not enough anymore. Or the doctor decides that after writing this prescription for years, that you’re taking too much, or he’s being hassled by the DEA for writing too many prescriptions, and he cuts you off. At this point you’re physically addicted, and not having the medication not only means that pain is back, but you’re sick as hell, going through withdrawal that most people wouldn’t wish on their worst enemy. That’s when, all of a sudden, unless you can tough out that withdrawal, you cross the line from being someone who takes prescribed medication, to a drug addict and a criminal.
But underneath, I’m still me. I still love to read, I still love to cook, I still need to write. I love taking care of my man, sitting around bullshitting and laughing with my older son. I love cuddling with my kitten. There are things I want to do again, but the anxiety is holding me back some right now. Shopping (not that we can afford that right now, lol), walking, driving – that used to be a stress reliever for me. I’d get in the car, blast some music (depending on my mood), and just DRIVE the pain, the fear, the frustration, the anger, whatever it was, away. Now, I’m terrified to get behind the wheel. I do okay when Jeff is driving (sorta) but I’ve become a man’s worst nightmare – a female backseat driver… you know – hon, slow down a little – why don’t you get in the right lane – babe, RED LIGHT (50 yards ahead). It’s amazing he doesn’t blindfold me and put duct tape over my mouth before letting me get in the car (then again – that might attract some unwanted police attention, ya know?). I’m afraid to leave the house (read:hotel room, but house just sounds better, lol), so what I do is limited.
And it’s all an endless cycle of my fear holding me back, but the more I let it hold me back, the stronger it gets. Xanax has become my new best friend – but that’s not the solution I’m looking for. I’m tired of trying to escape the feelings I don’t want to feel. I want to be able to deal with them, like a healthy person does. I don’t want to bury them under a new medication to become dependent on, or addicted to. What good is it to get rid of the opiates if I turn into a xanax zombie? None. But when my heart is racing, I can barely catch my breath, I’m sweating, my thoughts are racing so fast they scare me, that’s what helps calm me down. For now. But I’m not going to let it be forever.
Jeff and I both have health issues completely unrelated to our drug use – but let’s face it, using certainly doesn’t HELP our health problems, it more than likely worsens them. With me, it’s a mix of autoimmune disorders, psoriatic arthritis and back injuries. With Jeff, it’s back injuries, osteoarthritis, and liver problems. Part of getting it together, for both of us, is to get our health on track. It’s hard to be honest with the doctors about your symptoms and treatments when you’re using. And if we can’t be honest with them, they can’t do their jobs.
We’re tired of just surviving, covering up the pain, and getting by. We want to live, to thrive, to ENJOY life again. We have a ton of shit stacked against us. But, we have quite a few things going for us, too – we have each other. While I may not love myself like I should, I love the hell out of him, and want the best for him. And while he may not always care enough about himself, he’d lay down his life for me – so we help motivate each other. We’ve been told by many (and will be told by many more) that we’re more likely to cause each other to relapse than to stay clean. And that statistic may be true. But we’re determined. We got out of jail, and thought we could return to our old lives, old hangouts, old friends, old habits, old… hustles, and stay clean. We were wrong. Then we thought we could just use “casually” or “socially”. We were wrong. So this time, we’re doing it differently. We’re in a methadone program for the short term, to help us through the beginning. And we’re changing our lives. Our friends, our location, everything. It’s terrifying. But it’s also so exciting. A chance to start over, where everyone around us doesn’t know our recent history. Where we’re not constantly bumping into people we used with, or bought from, or are avoiding for one reason or another. A whole new beginning. –And I’ll throw in here, that I know there’s no such thing as a WHOLE new beginning, because no matter where we go, we’re bringing ourselves with us. And we’ve already proven that we can be our own worst enemies. Damn, I hate when cliche’s are so freakin true. But we’re starting over without our recent past constantly being thrown in our faces. We don’t know many people (maybe 5?) where we’re going. And I love that idea. As fresh a start as is really possible.
And this time? We’re gonna do it right.
I’m all written out – this was a hard one. I’m gonna start looking for some of the blogs I was so totally addicted to previously and do some catching up… Maybe I should save that for tomorrow, lol… I tend to get lost once I start clicking through blogs and I’ll be at it all night.
For now, I’m gonna curl up with the kitty and wait for Jeff (one of those nights – car sorta broke down 1/3 of the way home from the city 60 miles away, refused to go above 25MPH, but he somehow managed to coax it home). Can we be done with drama for the year now? I realize it’s still January, but still… last year was enough drama for a decade, so enough is enough.