Note: Parts of this post describe the use of drugs, which may be triggering to some people.
Lately, when I fly, I begin sleeping almost immediately. It doesn’t matter if I’m tired or not; as soon as we start taxiing and then lift upwards on takeoff, I’m lulled to sleep by the white noise and gentle rocking of the plane.
My trip to Austin last weekend was no different. I zoned in and out of sleep while trying to find a comfortable position pretzeled up in a ball. During this sleep, and also during random moments in random days, I flashed back to living by myself in the midst of an active addiction. I will flash back to any number of situations and I can never predict which ones will come at what time. One thing that I know is that they come.
This time, I was focused on the actual act of injecting heroin. My eyes were closed, but my mind was very aware of the act of preparing heroin and injecting it into myself — something I had conveniently learned on the internet. Yay for internet! It’s been said that the ritual of preparing a drug can be an addiction in and of itself, and this is one scenario that will often replay itself in my head.
My recollection of those years can be fuzzy, but my memories of numerous drug preparations are crystal clear. It’s one of those things that can be seen as a blessing and a curse — on one hand, I’m able to remember the chaos that used to be my life and on the other I sometimes look back longingly at a time when I could indulge in hedonistic adventures without the stresses of living a responsible adult life.
I’ve been in recovery for six and a half years.
Sometimes I miss drinking outside with friends in the warm summer months. Sometimes I miss taking stimulants and being able to get all my work done, my whole house cleaned, and still have energy for more. Cigarettes smell marvelous to me when first lit. Sometimes I miss opiates and the way I was able to just sit and numb out my existence to the world when I felt like it was getting too hard. Hearing tablets shake in a bottle is still a sound that catches me off guard with flashbacks to lonely times when my only friends were pills.
I still romanticize drug use. Stories about celebrities in rehab or drunken exploits fascinate me, although I tend not to go in search of them anymore. In every new city I visit, I always wonder where the drugs are hiding and how hard it would be to find them. Always.
Just because I am in recovery doesn’t mean I am recovered.
I’m honest with you as always, and that means sharing that sometimes I do miss the way I used to live. Sometimes I crave it instead of vilify it. This doesn’t mean I’m planning on acting on any of it, but the thoughts aren’t something that go away when the drugs do.
What I don’t miss are the consequences. What keeps me sober and in search of a better life for myself is being able to remember what happens next.
I don’t miss the hangovers. I don’t miss the guilt and shame. The lying. The anxiety around where the next high would come from and how I would afford it. I don’t miss the drunken embarrassments. I don’t miss the feelings of wanting to die but not actively wanting to take steps to make that happen.
The easy escape always comes with consequences. This isn’t just a story about me and my problems with drugs, but about any behavior. Every time you choose to escape life with another distraction, remember that life is still there and will be there when the distraction is over. It’s up to you to decide if embarking on an 8 hour Netflix binge in lieu of getting work done is worth the consequences. Will you still feel great about those extra drinks in the morning? Will restricting what you eat actually make you happy? I can tell you from my experience that it won’t, but sometimes you have to go through that on your own to find it out.
Recovery isn’t about abstaining from drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc. and never thinking about them again. It’s about taking your experiences, learning from them, and finding a better way to live. It’s figuring out what works in your life, keeping it, and throwing the rest away. It’s a continuous, introspective process that I feel everyone could benefit from in one way or another.
Sometimes I miss it and that’s ok. I used all of those behaviors as ways to comfort and protect myself, so it’s only natural that they’d still call to me. I can acknowledge the thought or feeling, remember what it leads to, and let it pass. The world goes on and so do I. 🙂
Thanks to Amanda for letting me think out loud.
- What do you do with destructive behaviors?
- Is there anything you’ve stopped that you still think about (behavior, food, etc.)?