I’d been introduced to friends of Bill W. at around age 19. But never took to the program and left after only a few weeks. At that time in my life, I was on Prozac for my first suicide attempt and benzodiazepines for anxiety attacks. I was anorexic and binge drinking on pints of Peachtree Schnapps ’cause I didn’t really give a shit whether I died in my sleep or not, after they let me out of the psych hospital. The people in the AA meetings were all in their 30’s and 40’s and talking about either prison, OUI’s, or their spouses divorcing them. I wasn’t them. I was a college kid that was just drinking to forget my past, numbing out trying to deaden pain. We had nothing in common, or so I thought……..
The first joint I ever smoked was around 12. My brother sold it to me for a dollar, cut-rate seeing it was in the family and all. He used to grow in our backyard and rapid dry it in the microwave when our parents weren’t home. My mother could never distinguish it from any of the other weeds growing behind the shed. It got the right amount of sunlight and shade.
When my parents went away, we’d sit around the kitchen table all four of us siblings. I was only about ten when that operation started. I was donned “stem girl” as the name so implies. The pile of pot then pushed my way to pick the stems out, then I passed it to my sister a year older than me “seed girl”, she’d push it over to my older brother who would place the right sized clump on the rolling paper and then he’d push it to my oldest brother who’d lick it into the finished blunt. Then we’d hop into the back of his Chevy Nova and he’s spark it up. Although I never smoked it, I certainly got a contact high from all the smoke and fumes.
Saw my first 8-ball at around ten as well. White powder on a mirror with my brother’s friends with a 20 dollar bill up their nose. I watched with morbid curiosity as he yelled for me to go back upstairs. When my parents came home I told them what I saw. It was completely innocent, not snitching as I truly didn’t know what to make of it. He got sent to some juvenile rehab where we had to drive to visit him on Sundays and he had to earn points to come home for a visit. When he finally did come home, in the dead of night where my muffled screams couldn’t be heard, I paid a very dear, dear price for opening my mouth. And I didn’t know it then but I would continue to pay a price for years to come.
The one advantage of having older brothers was they could buy booze for me at the package store, which is what they did. I could also buy a dime bag of weed at a cut-rate. Which I did. My high school years are a haze of black-outs and a two times of alcohol poisoning. I could drink most of the football team under the table and for some reason I felt proud of that. It was always important that I not be perceived as weak. Maybe because my sister who was a year older and stronger than me, was throwing me up against the wall at home to intimidate me could kick my ass…. at least outside the house, I present myself as “tough”
My eating disorder got worse too. The number on the scale began to dictate my self-worth. So starvation and over-exercising became a way of life. I had a morbid fear of purging so I could never become bulimic. By the time of my hospitalization, I had lost 15% of my body weight and was beginning to hallucinate. My thoughts were becoming distorted. My brain itself, deprived of glucose and key nutrients, began to improperly function. Subsisting off of 500 calories a day for nearly a year fucks with your brain.
Eating disorder, Alcoholism, substance abuse, smoking cigarettes? I was a 2 pack a day-er.
This is important to mention because it took years for me to understand that alcohol, drug use, and eating disorder(s) were all secondary addictions. The primary addiction that was not being addressed was codependency.
I was in constant pain, feeling alone and hurting. To cope with that pain, I began using all sorts of other secondary things to self-medicate.
Come to think of it…..I have gone my entire life, not knowing how to sit with painful emotions without over-eating/starving, self-mutilating, taking drugs, getting drunk, masturbating, compulsively spending, compulsively cleaning, cruising personal ads, or my personal drug of choice using relationship with men as a “salve”.
I still have all these other addictions going on. They are all quite still real and tugging at me sometimes whispering, sometimes yelling at me. On any given day I am struggling with wanting to drink myself into a stupor because the ex doesn’t call me and I miss him so much it hurts. Or I might want to eat a pint of Ben and Jerry’s to numb out the pain. Or maybe I watch some porn on the internet and then go masturbate, or maybe pop some percocet. ANYTHING not to feel that gut wrenching pain of rejection that feels like I am dying from the inside out.
Sometimes I get angry that some people in the meetings have one addiction and that’s all they have to contend with. Jealous. How fucking petty of me, that I sit there and wish that’s all I had to contend with. Then I hate myself for being an angry piece of shit. I am so not right-sized. Then I know that sitting on a pity-pot isn’t going to get me anywhere in recovery. And I DO know that somewhere out there, there’s someone who has it wayyyyyy worse than I do. So I better shut the fuck up and listen. Pray for humility and listen. And on good days, I do.
I do belong to several 12-step groups and I go to a shit load of meetings every week. I feel like I am dancing as fast as I can. Some weeks, it feels draining. Like a game of whack-a-mole. Just when you get one addiction in remission, another one pops back up to rear its ugly head. And some days I don’t even want to get out of fucking bed. Sometimes I feel like I will never get better. I am feeling hopeless today. I am sitting with a lot of fear today too.
The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous even says, (pg 58 4th edition) “Rarely have we seen a person fail who has thoroughly followed our path. Those who do not recover are people who cannot or will not completely give themselves to this simple program, usually men and women who are constitutionally incapable of being honest with themselves. There are such unfortunates. They are not at fault; They are naturally incapable of grasping and developing a manner of living which demands rigorous honesty. Their chances are less than average. There are those, too, who suffer from grave emotional and mental disorders, but many of them do recover if they have the capacity to be honest.”
I have the capacity for rigorous honesty. But what if I am too damaged emotionally, too fucked up from my childhood? what if I am one of those Bill W. spoke of? one of those unfortunates?
fuck me, I hope not.