I have heard it said that it takes 7 years for every cell in your body to replace itself. So what that means is that in just a few days I will be a completely different person. My first date of sobriety was July 11, 2005. Before that day I spent the majority of my life under the influence of Crystal Meth, alcohol, and/or any number of chemicals. So this is a very special "birthday" for me.
I still cringe when I think about who I was back then. It seems a million years ago since I had to wake up and stick a needle in my arm to get out of bed. It seems like an eternity since I had to degrade myself and everyone I knew in order to get high. And yet I know that if I am not on my game, and if I let my program slip, I could be back there in an instant. I stole, I lied, I was cruel... I was so cruel to my family and anyone that DARED to love me. I just knew that I was a lost cause. For me active addiction was like what I think being possessed is like. There was this piece of me that could see what I was doing, who I was hurting, what I was putting myself and my family through and I wept, but couldn't stop. COULD NOT stop. I remember there would be days (when I was still able to hold a job) that I would get paid and tell myself all day at work that I am going to pay my bills, I will not get high today. I would literally be in tears as I pulled into my dealers parking lot. I would sit in my car and SCREAM at myself, pound my fists on the steering wheel, and plead with God to not allow me to go up those stairs. Inevitably I would walk through that door and it would all start over again. It took nothing for me to fly into violent rages. I used up people like they were nothing. I took my family emotionally hostage and was powerless to change.
Then one day I found myself in the seediest of motels, strung out, suicidal and done. That is the day Sandra Bullock saved my life. Yes you read that correctly. When I say seediest of motels I mean it. You know the kind where the lock on the door barely works, the carpet has mold growing in it, the lamp shades have been stolen or removed so the light is bright and hideous, and the comforter... well lets just say I layed on a garbage bag on top of the bed. I had decided that the kindsest thing I could do for my mother was to commit suicide, but I needed to get high one more time. My cellphone rang and I snatched it up praying it was my dealer, it was not. It was my mother, we fought and I threw the phone on the bed and it hit the remote. The TV came on and as I crumbled to the floor I started mindlessly watching. Sandra Bullock was talking to a man and she was ringing her hands. She was describing her withdrawal symptoms. It was the movie 28 days. That was the first time it occured to me maybe there was a different way. It took me a few weeks, but on July 10, 2005 I stuck the last needle in my vein, took the last hit/pill/drink/snort and then begged my family, the family I had abused for years to help me. My mom and dad stayed with me while I went through detox, the most horrible pain and sickness you can imagine. 7 days they took turns caring for me while my body tried to purge the poison from itself. Then came rehab. The first time I ever saw my dad cry was the day I "graduated" from treatment.
I was introduced to AA and NA while in rehab and those programs have been what has changed me. I no longer lie and cheat and steal. I no longer fly into rages. I have been given tools that alllow me to love, and have compassion and empathy. These recovering junkies, drunks, garbage cans, criminals they have taught me how to be a better person. The person that my parents raised me to be. I love them like a soldier loves his or her platoon. Because make no mistake addiction is war.
Because of this new life I went to school and became, first a drug and alcohol counselor, and then back to school to become a social worker/mental health counselor. I repaired my relationships, I get to make a living amends to the people I have hurt. I met and married the love of my life a man I still don't know what I did to deserve. And I get to be a dad to the most amazing child.
It was Zoey that inspired this post. This morning she was sitting on my lap and she was playing with my forearms. I realized as she patted my arms and played with my arm hair that these are the same arms that used to be littered with track marks. These arms used to be the size of my wrist and ached from the daily stabbings they endured. These arms now get to hold my child and protect her. They get to hug my husband and my mom. These arms never again get to be used to hurt anyone ever.
I am not writing this to toot my own horn. As I approach 7 years clean and sober I just needed to get all this out I guess. And I know that many families are being torn apart by addiction. I hope that this post allows someone to have hope. Please hate the addiction, but love your addict.
I know this was heavy and if you made it to the end, thank you for reading this and listening.