Someone mentioned to me recently that being an Addict was the only illness you count the days since you have actually been well. Fair point. Also, if you keep counting days you have an immediate reminder every ‘day’ that passes of your former struggles. So from now on, I’ve made a mental note of the day I finally quit and will refer back to it for a rough guide. I reckon its been about 4 months now. And that’s pretty good. I’d love to tell you all how easy it has been, but hey, what’s the point in lying!? As far as giving up using goes, it’s actually not been too hard. I think giving up smoking is much tougher. But then, being an Addict is so much more than just about the actual consumption of substances, whatever they may be. Being an Addict turns you into the very person you normally cross the road to avoid. That might be the School Bully, The Liar, The Sponger, The Drainer, The Manipulator, The Victim or, to encapsulate all these different people – The Habitual User.
Let me try to expand. I’ve just returned from a short overseas holiday that came packaged with as much alcohol as I wanted to consume included in the price. If ever there was to be a temptation, then does it seriously get any harder than this predicament? To compound the issue, I went with a friend that is/was also in recovery but struggles immensely with the whole thing. He hates the ‘boredom’ of it all, and as you may of guessed already, it was only a matter of hours before his resolve collapsed and he succumbed to the booze. Then, when this didn’t get him high enough, and he also found out that Class A’s were available on the island, he bought them too. They were not all inclusive.
He’d had no money to even go on holiday – he’d blown so much of his cash on previous relapses that at the age of nearly 40, his father now controls his money and would not give him any in case he used it for the wrong reasons – so I trusted him and lent him the cash to go without even an agreed firm schedule of repayment. The cost of the holiday was already pretty high coming at this time of the year when the school holidays have already started. And then I foolishly gave him more. To spend on booze and drugs. To be fair, I didn’t have much choice. His manipulation and emotional blackmail was so intense that I really didn’t have much say. His aggression also grew. I felt very intimidated. This was mostly emotionally, but it could have so easily have also gotten physical. He’s a big guy and when out of control, who knows where that could lead?
His will was so, so strong and his insistence so intense that roughly half way through our 7 Day break, I also partook in a little of both. But I really didn’t enjoy it one bit. I felt anxious, depressed, paranoid, guilty and edgy. I didn’t like the loss of my own self-control even more so. The highs I had once craved so much were no longer there. It just didn’t work like it used to. There was no release, just pain. I didn’t need a release though. The holiday was release enough. I got worn down and let complacency slip in. But I’m strangely not sorry. My resolve to stay sober and clean has been strengthened and enforced by this very negative experience. I like the way I feel clean, even if it is “boring”. I like myself more and that’s so very important. No one else will like you if you don’t like yourself, and for a while there, I loathed me. It was further driven home by watching at exceedingly close quarters the change in my friend. And now I know for sure that it just does not work for me. I don’t even see it as a relapse, just a further stage I had to experience in the never-ending road of recovery. Maybe that’s wrong of me to see it like that, but I know the difference between what happened and where I was a few months ago.
Addicts hate partying alone and if they can de-stabilize another former addict to make their own relapse seem less hard to take, they will do so without a care for that other person’s welfare or own inner struggles. It is selfishness of the highest order. Sure, we are all in control of what we choose to do, but when someone goes on and on and on without a break it is almost impossible to take. And when you are away with them, and only them, you feel trapped and boxed in, like there is no escape other than to just comply. It’s like being in a cage with a Lion and you know it’s only a matter of time before you will get in some serious shit, so you may as well just stick your head in it’s mouth and get it over with. When you are sharing every minute of the day together, there is no respite. Just acceptance that this is how it is going to be. At times he was shouting and screaming at me just inches from my face that more money was needed. And fast, or ‘this deal or that deal’ would just not be possible and then it would ‘all be my fault’. How could I be so uncaring?
So, further abuse of my bankcard and my friendship followed. I had by the 5th day completely stopped enjoying my holiday. As Day 7 and our impending return to the UK dawned, I was just so glad all the drugs were gone and our All Inclusive wristbands had been cut off. The thought of returning to sobriety and the humdrum it entails was actually very comforting. In fact, the day couldn’t pass quickly enough. The oblivion of Addiction was and is simply not an option.
As if all this had not been sad enough, on that final day the wheels fell so far off my friend that it is doubtless he will ever find them again, although I hope he does. With little more than one hour to go before the bus transfer to the airport was due to arrive, he gave up completely. We had spoken at the start of the holiday about the possibility of extending the break for a few more days, but that was before the abuse started, and the idea was quickly dropped. A quick excuse was invented about “not being able to face” return to the UK due to some landslide near our home that he tried really hard to convince me a friend of his had been a victim of. Turned out this was not the case. He asked me did I want to stay? I foolishly said how could we stay without him having any money, knowing full well his father would once again refuse his request for cash. I felt safe we were leaving. But by now he was back in possession of all his cunning and manipulative tendencies. I couldn’t believe it when a brief phone call later, his father had agreed to immediately wire him a further £500. Fuck! He tried again and again to pressurize me into staying, saying that I had “changed my mind” at the last minute and now he had no option but to stay. What? Had I missed something?
The craziness of addiction and abuse was now in complete full flight. There was but 20 minutes left to catch the bus and I was adamant I was getting on it. I tried in vain to get him to change his mind but it was useless. I pointed out that if he now had £500 he should give it to me to pay for the holiday he had just had at my expense. Needless to say that didn’t seem like an idea he could work with. I barely had time to get his clothes out of my suitcase before the bus arrived. I went to the airport and boarded my flight home. He missed the bus, the flight and moved to an apartment above the very club he was scoring from. He’s still there now, a full 2 days after my return and will be for at least for another 2. As I went through security and boarding alone, I began to realise just how plain pissed off with him I was.
But I’m not angry any more. I can’t channel all that negative energy to him or anyone else. My own recovery is far too important. I have learnt some very important lessons in the last 10 days and failing the onset of madness, I will apply that knowledge to never let such a situation develop ever again. My friend is now apparently full of remorse and feeling low and wishes he had caught the flight with me. Whether our friendship will survive is too early to tell. I will drive the 70 miles to the airport in the wee small hours to pick him up when he does finally return but after that I cannot say. I’m quite sure he will also read this post and his state of sobriety at the time he does will decide how he takes this version of events. But that’s really not my concern. This is my blog.
What I know for absolutely sure is that an Addict’s most important role in recovery is to do everything in their power to keep other Addicts clean. I guess we both failed in different ways.