We’ve all heard a million stories about drug addiction, about Rehabilitation Centers, about ‘getting and staying clean and sober.’ What does it feel like though? How did you feel about yourself when you were using? How do you handle living with the reality of your past now? How do you put the pieces together, when there really are no pieces left? It is very hard to relate the myriad of thoughts that ran through my head.
At first, it’s just an urgent feeling. Get the drug. Get the drug. Who will be hurt, who will you use, who will you lose, how many laws will you break getting your ‘fix’? Subconsciously, these are all rolling through your mind, but you do not have the energy or time to stop and contemplate what you are doing to your life, and to the lives of others. You do not want to contemplate the repercussions of your drug addiction, the repercussions of this latest hunt for your drug. You will stop at nothing, and you will willingly hurt anyone and everyone who gets in the way or hinders the pursuit of your life’s blood, your drug.
Once you have the drug in hand, the feeling becomes crazed anticipation, and simultaneously you are extremely paranoid that you will never make it home, that you will be ‘busted’ before you even get to ‘take a hit.’ You cannot wait. It’s not uncommon for you not to make it home, rather to stop at a public restroom to ‘use’, to scratch the insatiable mental itch that is consuming you. When you leave the restroom, the paranoia increases, because now you are certain they all know you are high, that you got high in their bathroom, that you are ‘carrying.’
You are home now, you haven’t been caught. You lock the doors, deadbolt, chain, everything. You know ‘they’ are watching. All the blinds are shut backwards. Someone said when you turn them backwards, there is no way for the police to spy on you. Drug usage creates a frenzied state of constant paranoia. It really is the prevalent feeling which comes with using.
Once you are home and high, every noise could be the police, the FBI, DYFS (Division of Youth and Family Services). Is your child in the next room? Yes, he’s fine you reason; he doesn’t know what you are doing…fool. He knocks on the door several times, ostensibly to ask basic questions about food, and “Hey, Mom, can you tell me…”, and you fall for it, and tell him that you are having “adult discussions” if someone is there, or that you are “getting dressed” if you are alone, and that you will come see him in his room soon. The truth is that he knows what is going on, has known for a while, and he is desperately trying to make sure you are okay, and hoping that he can save his mother.
The delusions increase as you get higher, and there are helicopters outside looking in. Your drug partner is sure there are. You didn’t hear them before, but now that he mentions it, you have to keep checking through a slit in the blinds to see if it’s so. Now, your heart is racing and hurts, and you are pretty sure you are going to die tonight. What a waste. How sad for your son. His mother will die as a crackhead, and the world will know what they have long suspected. She was a loser. You say another foxhole prayer, and ask this God in Heaven, whom if He exists is probably really disappointed in you, to please give you one more chance, you will stop, you will change. He does, and you don’t.
There are no more drugs. This usually happens by the morning, when it’s time for your son to go to school, and you lamely try to be a good mother, but by this point in your addiction, you have no idea what a good mother is. You have lost your grip on reality. It is he who must make his breakfast, and yours, and get himself ready for school. If he needs money for something at school, it is usually his hard luck, as there is no money left. It has all gone to drugs. You cannot even see this boy crying his eyes out inside. This is your child, the one you swore you loved above all others, and you are making his life intolerable.
There were much worse things that I did to my son than neglect him. I fought so hard with him one day to give me money for drugs that the neighbors called the police, and they came and took him to his Aunt’s for the night. The terrible thing is that they gave that poor boy back to me the next day. I allowed (which is the same thing as doing) my drug addict boyfriend to take the gift cards given by charity for his Christmas presents, and sell them for crack. These are things I must live with for the rest of my life. So must my son.
Why would anyone want to live like this? Looking back, I don’t think they do. It is a sickness (albeit I believe a curable one) that takes over your entire system. You become an addict. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually the ‘you’ that you used to be no longer exists. As a sober person today, I look at this story, and see an atrocious mother, a person who is evil, and not deserving of another chance. That is how I would see this story if I was you. I am so grateful to have received a second chance, so terribly grateful. I know, I didn’t deserve one, but somehow it came.
Thankfully, my son welcomed his sober mother into his life, like a plant dying for water. He has completely forgiven me, but he can never forget. How can he forget? How can I? I don’t think we should. Each experience in a life, no matter how dreadful, is part of the sum that makes the whole. Would I be as compassionate as I am now, had I not gone to Hell and come back? Would I be so grateful for everything little blessing that comes my way? Would my son be so forgiving and wonderful to all around him, if he had not been in Hell with me?
How did we put the pieces back together? The odd thing is, the pieces that fell apart are no longer a part of our equation, as individuals, or as a family. We didn’t put the pieces back together. We get new pieces added everyday, and we create a new mosiac of life from them.
Possibly this is our Easter story. It is a story of deliverance and rebirth. It is a redemption story. My mission, I suppose, is two-fold. I want to let those still living in Hell know there is more than one way out. There is more than one path to freedom. My other purpose is to assure everyone who knows an addict that as long as that addict is alive, there is hope for change. I do believe there are things that need to be done for the peripheral world of that addict. Try to get the children out of the drug environment. They should not have to suffer like my son did. Do not offer help to addicts to continue this lifestyle. Leave them to their own devices. When they fall, they fall alone. That is the moment when they find the strength to get back up. I pray for the addicts still out there to one day be able to write their own Easter story.