I feel like I’ve reached a bit of a pit stop. I’ve been racing along and now the universe is telling me to pull in and recharge but of course I’ve not pulled in to parked quietly. No I’ve screeched to a halt, pulled my visor up, thrown my gloves on the Tarmac and eventually sat down on the road in a one person protest against my own life. There just seems to be too much happening with very little to show for it. Like now! So much has happened since I last posted and yet I can’t actually think of what to write. If I was totally honest I know exactly what to write about. Maybe this is the time to be truthful.
I haven’t had a drink in 2 and a half years and my life is so much richer for it. I have no regrets in stopping drinking. My social priorities are different. I’m not making any misjudged decisions or acting on some rose tinted idea of someone or worse waking up with the “shame”. I now don’t feel the need to cope with negative and hard emotions by getting smashed or enhancing positive ones by getting trashed. Yet I find myself still trying to shake off some kind of other dependency. I’m going to say once very quickly and then it’s done. Codeine. There I’ve said it. Codeine. Not your chemist bought codeine but prescription codeine. I’ve been taking it for years and years. Yes for pain… sometimes… occasionally… but really because it gave me a feeling of happiness, euphoria even and then a warm, fuzzy, calm feeling all too often to the point of sleep. I got off on the buzz of it and coupled with alcohol … well there you go! Party on! The thing is at the height of my drinking and regular tablet intake the last thing I truly felt like was a party girl. I gave a good impression of one but I was deeply unhappy. Feeling less of myself, losing my identity bit by bit, conforming to another, under coercion. I see that so clearly now. Living in a void filled with resentment, unkindness, control, bitterness, jealousy I did what I had to do to get myself through it. To make me care less and then I wouldn’t bother so much about the mire of unhappiness I was in. Yet I was and although after the most horrible of times I finally became free and could extrapolate myself from such a toxic life it wasn’t the end of the story. It would have been so good if it had been.
Headline: Woman set free!
With my wings unclipped I found myself circling my own life. Coping with single motherhood. Being finanacially responsible for myself and two kids with only me to do it. Feeling both desire for the first time in years and feeling desired. Feeling connection then disconnection. Working to make ends meet and make a life for me and my children. To do the best I could. When I admitted it to myself that drinking was becoming an issue I found the strength to stop. I did that by being honest with myself and to the rest of my world. I had to otherwise I might never have found the will to make the change. My success with alcohol abstinence was only the start of that particular journey. I still had my codeine but when the repeat prescriptions started to decrease ( nice to see my GP was actually being responsible) and I didn’t have as many that is when I knew I was in difficulty. I realised unlike alcohol I was psychologically and physically dependent. Every time I tried to stop by half way through the day I felt like I had the flu; shivering, sweating, aching muscles, gastric pain, restless body, itching skin, nausea, very irritable and emotional mood. I felt like shit! Not coping well and with trying to keep my life and the kids life on track I would take them again just to stop feeling the way I did. Just like my marriage. Fearing the horrible quagmire of pain that riding the storm which would bring if I left my hostile marriage bed I chose time and time again to stay put as it was easier to deal with that predictable pain than the fear of the unknown. It struck me that I was dependant in so many ways but not with myself. Through my marriage I had lost my independence, identity, self assuredness. I no longer trusted my instincts about me and my input in the world. I had lost faith in myself. With alcohol and codeine I had given me a sense of relief. I didn’t quite care the same but of course your growing tolerance dictates you need more. Compared to someone else my codeine consumption was negligible but for me 240mg a day every day for 7 plus years was considerable. In the last few years I would wait until my parents were out of the house and using my own key nip in and help myself to my mums supply of codeine and sometimes dihydrocodeine. If in their house I would pretend to get something and sneak them out by tucking them about my person. I would buy over the counter lower strength ones and take them along with my rationed full strength to get the same effect. I was in total denial and had turned into a liar and a thief. My short term memory poor I panicked at the thought of any kind of acting job where I had to learn lines although I always managed.
Last September I saw truly myself but not as I was but what I knew I could be. A good friend helped me face up to the fact that I was taking these tablets for all the wrong reasons. I had to face up to it. I had to stop. I made a GP appointment and plucked up the courage to face my demon. I broke down and cried and she passed me the tissue box and commended me on my courage. She reassured me that she would support me and that getting off them should be gradual and at my pace but what I really needed was emotional support. She gave me some literature to read and I took it from there. The next 12 months have been the start of the real recovery. I now see that it wasn’t alcohol, codeine or anything else it was and is the underlying emotions that led me make the choice to drink or pop a pill. The habitual lack of confidence in feeling natural happiness or pain. Believing that you can’t cope without these substances. Struggling to find a sense of self. I wanted all those things and possibly for the first time in my adult life.
I started to go along to meetings with others struggling with addictive behaviours. At first I felt mortified that this is what I had come to but I quickly realised that we all have the same underlying emotional issues. Sitting there with people from all walks of life — all of you with a common denominator is a real leveller. All of us there scared to truly feel our emotions and now dependent on a substance to do the feeling for us. I get so much from them and in turn I feel I give a lot back always leaving more positive and focussed. Whatever anyone discloses about their choices there is no judgement. It’s a journey and although I feel frustrated that I’m still holding back from moving into the final phase I know that from 8 tablets daily for over 7 years that getting down to 2 a day is a huge achievement.
So I’ve had my pit stop and it’s time to put my gloves back on,flick down the visor and get back in the driving seat. Maybe not in a 5th gear race against time pace but in a more leisurely 2nd or 3rd gear mode taking in the scenery, breathing in the fresh air, being present.
There is so much to have gratitude for; 2 incredible children, a loving and supportive family, the best friends a girl could hope for, great work colleagues and then there’s me. I pretty alright too.
I just need to believe it.