Fear and Loathing in South Florida (Part II of III)
Continued from Florida, Cocaine, and Me: A Love Story.
You may believe that relapse begins the moment one ingests a drink or drug. That is what I always believed. This is a myth. Relapse begins with a sense that you’ve got it down, this sobriety thing. This leads to complacency. Complacency leads you to stop doing the things that helped you to get sober. Then the old behaviors creep back. Over time, these old behaviors begin to grate away at your self-esteem. This is when the thought of a drink or drug comes in. Because they work. Because they soothe that sense of fear and self-loathing like no other way you ever have found.
My Addiction Was Busy Doing Push-ups, While I Was Suppressing The Urge To Use
Against all advice, I got a new boyfriend who was also in recovery. I had been so unhappy in my marriage for so long that I felt entitled to spend time with someone who was nice to me. I didn’t care that he distracted me from working on myself. Actually, I welcomed it. The rehab living facility I resided at banned dating while in residence there. I found a half way house in Delray Beach that would allow me to have my dog and boyfriend.
My soon-to-be-ex husband began paying my rent. I began relying on him for emotional support. The narcissistic and histrionic tendencies flared. I sometimes snorted my sleep meds. I stopped following the suggestions of the program and texted or made fun of people throughout most of the meetings I did make it to. I obsessed daily about walking into a bar, felt the siren pull of the Walgreens liquor store when I walked to buy cigarettes.
I firmly believe the only thing that kept me sober at this time was so that I would be able to pick up my six month sober chip and get applauded. I got six months - just so I could say that I did. And did I really have six months? I had gone to a Kava bar that week 3 days in a row. I certainly didn’t feel sober after consuming shell upon shell of the muddy drink. I drank copious amounts of monster energy drinks. I made three teabag strong valerian (the herb they make valium from) teas. I never got a new therapist after the four, yes, four, I had gone through at my treatment center. I couldn’t afford that. But I could afford Juicy Couture, True Religion, Starbucks, and cigarettes.
“She Never Mentions The Word Addiction, In Certain Company”
The divide between how well I was actually doing and how well I thought I was doing grew to epic proportions. I took a new job at a burger and beer joint, because, seriously, I could handle it. My fourth shift I had a few sips of beer. And then I had a few glasses. I felt that seductive omnipotence and goodwill again. After that, I drank every day I worked. I told no one at work that I was in the program and I told no one in the program what I was up to at work. Then one Saturday the half way house gave me special permission to work late. I got cut around 10:30. With about $300 in my wallet, I called my boyfriend.
“I’m buzzed,” I said. “Come see me, I’m out early.” The moment he showed up I kissed him and he said the three little words every addict wants to hear; “Let’s get high.” Did I forgot to mention, my new boyfriend was a chronic relapser? I sincerely believed we would drive to Miami, pick up a gram, do a few lines and I would be home by the time I was supposed to get out of work, around 2:30 am. That’s not how it happens when you get high with someone who is resigned to a life of the program. AA insists that once you take that first drink or drug you are powerless over everything you do after that. In my opinion, that creates a free-for-all mentality. Since you believe at this point you are going to need to pick up a white chip and go back to sobriety anyway, then you might as well go all out. This is how people die.
Going Out With A Bang
Needless to say I never made it home that night, except to stumble in around 6 am and pretend to be waking up early to go out and “meditate with my sponsor”. I lied some more and left again. When we ran out of cocaine around 7 am, we got a motel room, more liquor, and crack cocaine.
Around 11 am we drove to pick up a handful of Oxycontin. He went to five different pharmacies to get needles. We spent the rest of the day smoking crack, drinking, and shooting pills.
I’ll never forget that moment; wrapping the belt around my arm, watching him cook it up on the bottom of a halved beer can, and then the needle going into my arm, finding the vein, drawing some blood to mix in with the drugs, and spreading into my bloodstream. I raised my arm above my head as he slapped the spot a few times. Within seconds, my entire body was taken over by the most incredible high. I laid backwards on the bed, mumbling, “Oh my God that feels so fucking good.” I have no idea how long I laid there like that. I didn’t even feed my dog that day. That’s where my addiction took me. It happens that fast. And my wallet and bank account? Now empty. All I had to show for the night was a trackmark in each arm.
I had recorded some of our antics with my cell’s video camera. When I got back to the house one of my roommates descended upon me like a hell hound as I tried to fall asleep. She grabbed my phone, wanting to call my sponsor to check up on my story. I started screaming at her and wrenched it from her hands.
The next morning I did my best to lie to the house managers - they didn’t believe me. In the ensuing confusion I packed a bag and was off to the reluctant ex-boyfriends house without my cell. Meanwhile, my roommate had my phone, which she used to text my husband, pretending to be me. And yes, she sent him the video. I deleted it without ever watching it. I was too disgusted. He has a hard copy somewhere. Apparently it was quite entertaining.
If I Listened, Long Enough To You, I’d Find A Way, To Believe, That It’s All True
I made one correct decision and called a woman I knew with a few years of sobriety under her belt. She picked me up, and took me to a meeting. I found a new halfway house.
My ex husband said he forgave me for the video, and I thought he must have really changed. He drove up to take me out to dinner one night, and he just looked better and better. He had gone through months of therapy and anger management while I was away, and as always, told me any and everything I wanted to hear. He had a girlfriend, and told me things were beginning to get serious. But all I had to do was say the word, and I could come home. He swore he never wanted to do cocaine again, that I was all he ever wanted. I told myself, maybe this time, things would be different between us. So I said yes. And a few days later, I moved back home…
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