I identify myself as a person in recovery. For years I identified myself with naming my disease (ADDICTION) but I am now “Kyczy, a woman in recovery from addiction, alcoholism, and a few other “isms’ as well.” But the lead is I AM A WOMAN IN RECOVERY. I know this isn’t according to Hoyle, or the customary practices of introducing ourselves at twelve step meetings, but I believe in creating mental habits of healing.
The husband of a dear friend, someone with multiples of years sober, forgot that he was in recovery. He forgot to go to meetings, his sponsor had become an occasional friend, one he seldom reached out to anymore. He became isolated; he forgot that addiction is a disease of separation. He forgot that he couldn’t stay well alone, he forgot his spirituality and eventually he forgot that he wasn’t a drinker.
Dead after twelve days: found by a family member who had become worried when the phone remained unanswered. He was dead in a chair with a half gallon of vodka in the freezer. Dead of alcohol poisoning. Intentional or accidental? The first drink is the intention to lose our sobriety and to see if we can survive another dance with the 800 pound Gorilla. The ability to act on intention goes out the window. It becomes a question of who will stop first? Me or the gorilla?
This is a fatal disease. Whether or not you have ten days or ten years, 30 days or 30 years we jump on the train at about the same box car that we left it. It may take a few weeks to get to our previous levels of intake, or days, or we might die before we get to drink as much as we want to. It might kill us this relapse – or it might be the next.
Drug addiction comes with an extra surprise: the Russian Roulette of supplies. You don’t know what your drugs are cut with, what chemical enhancements or poisons have been added. Your second time may be your last. This is an extra layer of chance and luck that we face today.
Semantics will kill us. I believe the recovery is kinetic condition: I have to keep doing what I am doing in the program (any program) to maintain my intention of clean time, sober time, abstinence, that I have. If I think I am recovered, then I may forget. I may forget that I need to do certain things to maintain healthy thinking. Over the years I have allowed my body to heal, my liver to heal, my brain to do a lot of rewiring and re-setting, but if I were to stop recoverING, then I might forget. Recovered might mean I am well enough, disease free and can try again. This is not true. I am not going back to being a cucumber. I will always be a pickle.
The lying, the justification, the rationalizing addict mind may bring me down the wrong isle in the supermarket. I have no business in those isles (and I have a resentment against the stores that store beer in to cooling isle with the yogurt and the cheese- just sayin’). I have no business on that side of the drugstore when I go to buy shampoo. I have no business in a corner market going for gum if my heart starts to race in some kind of muscle or nervous memory of the pints and quarts I used to buy. Gum is not that important. I don’t need to tease my systems by being “that strong”. Use my strength to walk away.
The disease /not a disease controversy will kill us. It doesn’t matter. I know how I feel about that issue and it really DOESN’T MATTER! I can’t drink and I cannot use drugs. Full stop. I do know that either through genetic or through upbringing I have a tendency to over do. I spend time looking at that propensity and adjusting my behaviour and choices accordingly. If I don’t pay attention I will go down one rabbit hole that will erode my self worth, that will lead to another rabbit hole and so one and so on. From losing my emotional sobriety, my otheration containment, my food disciplines, I will eventually lose sense of myself and I will drink or use again. Maybe it will sneak up through cough medicine and medications for pain, but make no mistake. I will begin to self prescribe, I will drink. I will use. I will die.
Addiction is a “potentially” fatal disease. In abstinence we have reached remission. If we resume all bets are off. By accident or on purpose it will take your piece off the board game. Your marker will tip over and the game will be lost. Do the next right thing, go to a meeting even when you don’t’ want to. Call someone when you are down. Write, meditate, pray. Do something kind for someone else. Call someone who hasn’t been in touch for a while. Reach out. Reach in.
Don’t forget. Please, don’t forget.