I relapsed. I was prescribed Vicodin for a back injury and I thought I could handle it. I was proud that I told my wife immediately about the prescription, gave her the bottle and let her dole out the pills. But I started banking them, saving them up and taking handfuls at the end of the day so I could get a little rush.
Years ago we volunteered with a foster child, a tough one who stayed in the highest security group homes. They'd give him his little cup of anti-depressants and anti-psychotics and then check under his tongue to make sure he'd swallowed, rather than pulling the pills back out and selling them on the group home black market. If I ever have an injury severe enough to justify something more than ibuprofen, I guess that's what I would need.
During my Vicodin time, me and Linsey had a huge fight, and I went on to a couple nights of porn and dextromethorphan, and that's all I really want to say about that. If you've read my blog before, you know I've struggled to find “long term sobriety”, but I'll keep trying.
There's been so many other blog-worthy things going on, but I've been avoiding this place because, well, you know – just didn't feel like saying “relapse” again. So now that it's out of the way...
I'm learning about codependents. I'm beginning to understand my wife, and the way that we work together, two parts of a twisted machine. It occurs to me that I've been frustrated for years when I watch her defend the drug-addled antics of her family. As a card-carrying addict, it is so very obvious to me when somebody is using.
When we met my brother-in-law Jason at a restaurant this weekend, everyone was excited about his birthday except Jason, who was so stoned that he didn't even know it was his birthday. He told us the stories, all true, about his road-rage fist fight (he put a guy in the hospital), the nerve damage, the prescription morphine. His ex, the one that he's sharing the house with until they're evicted, told us he's seeing two different doctors (who don't know about each other) and taking eight pain-related prescriptions.
Jason recently admitted he's an alcoholic, but he's not working any program. He's “trying to stop drinking”, but he's currently going through a separation, losing his kid, losing his house, already lost his job, has uncontrollable rage, and is on eight different painkillers. I love him, my heart breaks for him, I want to be there for him when he's ready to get help, but let's call a spade a spade – he's in active addiction. My wife kept explaining to me at the restaurant that he's just on a strong prescription, and that's what was causing the profuse sweating and inability to make eye contact or complete sentences.
No wonder she's put up with me so long.
I believe any knowledge, any perspective-increasing glimpse, is progress. Have I benefited from Linsey's tendency towards denial? Yes and no. I'm still living at home, I keep getting “second” chances, she's showed me patience while I've continued to work. I am not giving up on me or us, and I've learned from each of my relapses. (Lesson #47: No Vicodin, no matter what.) But I know what Jason needs to hear right now: We love you and we want to help. Let's go to a meeting together. I know what it feels like to be trapped in your world. Not denial. Not justification.
Besides the obvious, this has been a great few months. I've felt joy – real joy – more than I have in a long time. It's like it just bubbles up, out of nowhere. My sponsor says it's because I'm really working the steps and making progress. He says you can't really explain the inner workings of the black box, but when you put good stuff in, good stuff comes out.
I wish I only had to introduce you to ME: dad, husband, songwriter, pastor. That’s the guy I see in the mirror. I love my kids, I’m good at fixing things, I love to read or chase my dogs around the house. But I lose track of myself sometimes when I’m hurting. That’s when my addict comes around, the bastard who would throw it all away for a moment alone with his drugs and his porn. He cuts me with a razor and he steals things just for the rush. He’s even tried to kill me. But there’s a huge difference between us, and I’ll tell you what it is: He’s a coward. And I’m not. I won’t let him have my kids, my beautiful wife, my job or my home. And since he hates exposure, I’m going to tell you all about him. I’m Eli, and I’m an addict.