Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Long Road Home from Relapse

via My Fabulous Disease, by Mark S. King 

Florida highways have lovely rest stops. You would expect that from the Turnpike, where toll booths charge a premium every so often, but the manicured picnic areas continue even as you drive further north and onto I-75.

I’m on a cement bench in a concession area, chomping down corn chips and a Mountain Dew, away from the dog walkers and the families gathered at picnic tables, when I notice that my jeans are gathered sloppily around my waistline, cinched so much tighter than before.

How much smaller has my waist become in such short a time? I wonder. One inch? Two?

People sometimes stroll near me on their way to the restrooms, and I keep my eyes down, afraid I might look too disheveled for their comfort, or worse, that my shame might be clearly written across my face.

That they might see what I’ve done, and return a glance of judgment or pull their children closer.

The self pitying tone of these words doesn’t suit me. Pity is such a useless emotion at a time like this. Let me start again.

The drug relapse came over me like a sickness, as if I was coming down with something, slowly, over weeks. The breakup with my former partner last month in Ft Lauderdale had been cordial, and he and I continued living together while I made plans to relocate back to Atlanta.

First, though, Thanksgiving would be spent with his family, as a final goodbye and a chance to show our unity — and of what remained of our broken love — during this trying time.

But my disease of addiction had already begun rearranging my thoughts, shuffling my priorities in a bid for dominance over the vigilant recovery I had practiced, proudly and successfully, for nearly three years.

Small changes crept into my behavior, not about drugs precisely, but other, vaguely related habits that had once accompanied my drug use.

A return to the gym and a shallow fixation on my body. Smoking, a habit broken for two years, returned in secretive fits and starts.

A feeling of entitlement — to do as I pleased, to eat junk or get laid — swept over me like a declaration of freedom that hid its true intentions in the fine print.

And then the clarion call became more explicit, as involuntary images of using drugs bombarded me, plaguing my sleep and my daydreams.

But while my memories of life as an active addict had previously been reduced, finally, to dark and sinister snapshots of a pitiful existence, these new images were more seductive, promising euphoria, fast sex and most of all, a lurid escape from my own feelings.

When my former partner left town on business the week before Thanksgiving, the drug addict inside me made a break for it.

It’s startling, really, the speed at which a recovered crystal meth addict, filled with a sense of purpose and a devotion to helping others dealing with this disease, can be transformed into a selfish liar.

About as long as it takes the first, transformative rush of the drug to enter your body.

But the images that promised everything delivered nothing. Or that is, they delivered the usual package of misery that I should have expected, from my own past experiences and the many, many stories of woe I have heard from other addicts.

Those images — the real ones I witnessed during my relapse rather than the counterfeit promises with which my disease had baited me — haunt me now.

I don’t want to conjure them, the lesson has been received, but they roll on. Images of desperation, of blood and jeopardy and strangers with my fate in their hands.

The street crack dealer, with whom I am pleading to please return the keys he has taken from my pocket, who tells me he is going to “rent” my car for errands, who threatens me through a manic grin and all the while

I am trying to convince him to please, please just give back the
You don’t need to hear this. This is mine to endure and overcome. Let me start again.


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