Today I’m honored to present information in the series Issues in OUR ORBIT: Substance Abuse & Recovery. I am grateful to romance and fantasy writer C.D. Taylor for sharing this post, which appeared on her blog on June 29, 2015. Kudos to her for coming through a challenging year —
In life we find so many instances to celebrate. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. We turn baked goods into balls of flaming death and wait for someone to blow saliva all over the treats so we can devour them and cheer on the recipient of our congratulations. I for one have celebrated many things. Birthdays of course are the number one on my list but this year I have something new to celebrate. Something that I never thought I’d be cheering myself on about. Sobriety. Yes, you heard me. I’m coming up on one solid year of being clean from narcotic pain killers. Some may say that isn’t something to celebrate, that I should be ashamed that I was ever in that sort of situation. Truth be told, I was ashamed. I didn’t want anyone knowing I had a problem. What would they think of me? Would they turn away from me because of my past?
The fallout I envisioned was comparable to nuclear meltdown in my life. I didn’t want or need for any of those things to happen. What changed my mind?
Secrets can only be hidden for so long. Eventually they rear their ugly head and somehow you are exposed in a negative light without being able to tell your side of the story or defend yourself. The best way to combat that was to come clean (no pun intended). You’ll notice that recently I did come clean about my problem (there’s a blog post about it).
Somehow I found healing…
Somehow I found healing in that post, like it was something I needed to do in order to close the wounds that were so ferociously ripped open by my addiction. Clicking the ‘publish’ button on that blog was one of the most nerve racking things I’ve ever done in my life. But after it was over, I sat back and thought ‘this is it. This is where I begin the new leg of my journey.’ And it was. It was a day when I put the old me into a little box and told her to behave. Believe it or not, she’s been behaving like a dream!
One year. A lot can happen in a year. Births, deaths. In a way I was reborn and I killed off the person I was before. It feels great not having to depend on something that was literally killing me from the inside out. I wake up with a clear head and I’m always ready to face things with positivity. Life is pretty damn good.
After a whole year of being clean, I began to ponder some things about addiction. The foremost of them was the ease of actually getting pills. I never bought them off the street, but I did doctor shop and lie about something happening to the bottle I already had. Yeah, I was a shitty person. It’s okay, you’re more than welcome to call me that, it doesn’t hurt.
I found myself visiting with my regular physician today though and fired up a conversation about this topic. She was more than happy to discuss this with me, knowing my history with pills. I wanted to hear her opinion as a professional about how she toes the line in issuing narcotic pain killers. First of all, doctors are primarily compassionate people. They went into their field of study because they care about people and want to heal them. So in my mind, I would think it would be hard to turn someone down if they walked in saying they were in pain. She confirmed my suspicion.
“It is hard. There’s a line drawn between professionalism and what’s legal, compared to what I feel personally for a human being. It’s difficult to look at someone who claims they’re in pain and say ‘I’m sorry, I can’t give you this’”. “We are here to help people feel better, but in the back of your mind you have to think of the worst case scenario.” I have to agree with her on this. I am a fairly compassionate person myself. It would kill me to say no to someone who claims to be in horrible pain. I went on to ask her how she deals with something like this.
“Honestly, I don’t deal a lot in pain management. If I think they are being truthful about their pain, I refer them to a pain management specialist.” I know from firsthand experience that a pain management specialist isn’t like a regular physician. In order for you to get drugs from them, you are required to take a psych evaluation. They make you jump through so many hoops that by the time you’re done, you’ve already found a sucker doctor to give you more pills. So kudos to her for making the right call when it comes to people in pain. Point blank, if someone is in real pain, they will do what they have to in order to heal from that pain.
Another topic that my doctor and I discussed was about my future. No, not my career or anything like that. It was a discussion about “what happens if you need another surgery, or even do something like break your leg?” It was a valid question. “Sure you could try to tough it out and suffer through it, but I don’t recommend that.”
No, I don’t really think I’d like to ‘suffer through’ my femur being snapped in half, if this unfortunate event ever came about. I’d want something to dull the pain for sure, who wouldn’t? I’m no martyr that’s for damn sure. To her question, though, I already had an answer ready. See, when you go through something as epic as addiction and come out alive on the other side, you always need a contingency plan. A plan B, if you will. I’ve had my plan B ready since the day I decided to give up my addiction.
If I ever meet with an unfortunate accident or require surgery, I have let my husband know he will be my ‘dealer’ for all intents and purposes. He will give me the prescribed dosage of medicine when I need it. Now, it won’t be one of those things where I’m allowed 6 pills a day and he hands them to me each morning…no, that would be stupid. Giving a recovering addict 6 pills is like giving a small child 6 Snickers Bars and expecting them to not eat every single one in 30 seconds. It’s hard to practice self-control when you have a past of addiction.
The brain of an addict will always try to revert back to past behavior.
Ask any former addict, they will tell you the same thing. Medicine will have to be dosed out individually. And I’m okay with that. I’ll need help, and I’ll ask for help. I’m not too proud to ask for help in keeping myself clean. It’s all part of the game. A game that I am winning and will continue to win.
Retraining your brain isn’t an easy task. It takes more determination than you can possibly imagine. But what’s the old saying? “Anything worth having, is worth fighting for”? Something like that I suppose. Yeah, I did this for me. Making the decision to be clean was one of the most selfish choices I’ve ever made. But instead of feeling bad about it, I feel empowered. Like I’ve slayed the dragon and I now hold its head in my fist as a trophy, a reminder of sorts.
Maybe this has opened your eyes to other types of celebrations that people do. Maybe you will read this and be judgmental about my past. But here’s the thing…I’ve spent the past year judging myself. I have beat myself up more times than I can count. Did it do any good? No. I was still the same person after my lashings. I am still standing strong and learning from my mistakes. The great thing is that I can recognize them now. I can look at things with a fresh perspective and smile because I was given a second chance. I was given the opportunity to make amends with myself and say ‘it’s okay, I messed up. But I will do better’.
Don’t be so hard on yourself for your shortcomings. Most of them are only stepping stones to get to a brighter future. The less time you spend hating yourself, the more time you have to enjoy the life you’ve been given.
Peace, Love and Pages
~ ~ ~ ~
The links below provide information on addiction and recovery.
Visit the Harvard Help Guide
And here’s a recent article from the New York Times on teenagers discussing what might have stopped them from using drugs.
~ ~ ~ ~
Thank you for visiting my blog today! Please check out the rest of the website and let me know if you like what you see, or if you have suggestions. You can reach me by leaving a comment in the box below or by clicking the Contact link at upper right (or just click here). Consider subscribing to my blog or newsletter. And stop by again soon!