Sometimes, we at the Band know that part of owning who you are is admitting it to the world. It's one reason why we at The Band work tirelessly to break down stigmas and find the ties that connect us all, the ties that remind us that we are none of us alone.
Please join us in standing tall and proud as we tell the world who we are.
What are you, The Band, The Face Of?
I am fairly open, I am aware that the only way people are going to understand various things is to have people speak out about them to be the face of them.
I am fine being the face of things; I proudly wear my labels as an ACOA, rape/incest survivor, special needs parent, non-traditional student, and self-injurer. But, I have spent years hiding, pretty well denying, a label that I should be wearing. It's a label that gives me butterflies as I sit here getting ready to type it.
I am, in no uncertain terms, an addict. Yet, when asked what I am the face of or talking about me and my past I never use that term. In fact, I often comment on how my family has history (a strong history of) addiction, I just fail to mention I am part of that history.
But, I can't hide it any longer. And I am not even sure why I hide it; I mean I know why, I am scared of what people will think and say. But, why? I am not ashamed or worried about anything else in my past, though a lot of the dumb things I chose to do occurred or were a result of not being sober.
I spent much of my youth from about 14-15 using pain medication and alcohol. I mean pain medication was easy to get because I was an active kid who was prone to injury. I often went to the doc for an injury and they would write me a script. While I took them "as prescribed" I would take them too long when I actually no longer needed them.
I would find a way to get different medication so I could "alternate" and maintain the high longer. I would toss in alcohol when I could because my parents were open about alcohol, that it wasn't taboo. My parents didn't know about a lot of the drinking that occurred nor the extent to which it happened.
It made me numb, I made dumb decisions on it. I hurt myself and others, but I still doubt that many people of my youth realize what I was doing. After all most addicts are good at manipulating the situation.
Yet, still this label has been one I denied and disowned which in the long run did as much harm to me and my psyche as if I had denied my own left arm. Because this label, being an addict, is as much a part of me as my left arm.
What baffles me is when a friend slips or enters recovery I am the first to be there. Never saying a word about my issues, I offer to go to meetings and have a "safe space" at my home. All the while biting my tongue and not finding the camaraderie I could have, should have.
So, what brought me to the point of revealing this layer? Well, I slipped and fell HARD this week. We have been having lots of struggles, mostly financial, and this isn't an excuse just a telling of the events. I ran out of coping skills, ultimately that is what happened, I ran out of fucking coping skills.
I started popping again, finding a way to take the pain medication every hour. Never letting my feet touch the ground, so to speak, for about a week. I would pull into work and start calculating when I could leave and get home to take another pill. I would take a pill and immediately look at the clock and figure out when I could take another. This whole time rationalizing that I was "taking it as prescribed." Technically I wasn't taking any more pills than what the bottle said, never mind I wasn't in pain.
I finally told hubby two nights ago that I snuck a pill in yesterday morning, then he made them disappear (honestly, I wasn't here so I have no idea about the disappearance--other than I asked him to get them someplace I don't know of) and bought me pomegranate juice, which I love. I still have been holding close to my secret.
Ultimately I chose to peel open this layer because I can no longer be silent, because the silence is killing me. It's allowing my illness to fester and then allows it to be fed. And I know that's not okay. I need a support network more now then ever, one that I know "in person" doesn't exist but one that I know I have here "online" and far away.
I know many of my friends will recoil, wondering how it could be. I don't know how or why, I just know it is. I just know I can't go on denying such a huge part of me. I need to find the fellowship, I need to be able to reach out when I am falling down that black hole. I need help figuring out what this means for me, my life, and how this slip is going to color my world from now on.
I have a friend with Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA).
My mom has it too.
RA is an invisible illness. People with invisible illnesses have no visible symptoms, so many folks don't understand why they can't do all the things that most people can do. There is some sort of spoon theory that they use to try to explain it; long story short, people with these invisible illnesses only have so many spoons to get through each day. They have to think about how they are going to use each spoon because they can't go get more spoons at the spoon store, and I can't give my mom or my friend some of my spoons to get through the day.
I found out my friend was thinking of a project involving spoons; she's real crafty and creative like that. I made it my mission in life to go find my friend lots of random spoons. I went to the local flea market hoping to find some spoons. I found a bunch of random spoons and bought lots of them for my friend's project. This made me happy.
Then, I got sad. I was sad because I can't give my friend any of my metaphysical spoons, even though I often have more than I need to get through my day. I would gladly give up some of my spoons for my friend or my mom, but I can't. That isn't how spoon theory works. Maybe some day, science will have the answer to that conundrum, but right now that is still "fringe science"; I get enough fringe science from my Sunshine, as he studies the neurophysiology of addiction.
I sat and thought about spoons, and I was sad that I can't give my spoons to those who need them. Then I had a moment of extreme giddiness over the saying we have in recovery about how "spoons are for stirring coffee." This is especially funny to addicts, because we have some insane uses for spoons.
Then I remembered that movie The Matrix. There is no spoon. This has the potential to take me down the paths of fringe science, but I get enough of that from Sunshine.
So rather than be sad about not being able to share my metaphysical spoons, or travel down the path of fringe science, I went shopping.
I went to an antique shop, and I bought some spoons. I bought some really neat, rather fancy, really random spoons. They are my gift to my friend.
See, I sat in a meeting last night with other recovering addicts, and I realized that the fellowship is all about the therapeutic value of one addict helping another. We addicts share our experience, strength, and hope with one another. We share our metaphysical spoons.
While I may not have an invisible illness that leaves me debilitated on some days, I do have a disease that can't exactly be seen. The treatment for my disease involves sitting around with other recovering addicts and sharing our spoons with one another.
While it may not help my friend get through her day better (physically) for me to send her some fancy antique spoons, I know that it will make her heart smile, and that's what helps her get through the bad days - just like another addict's experience, strength, and hope helped me get clean.
Today, y'all are part of my circle of recovery. Y'all share y'all's spoons with me, and that's some awesome shit.
And until fringe science catches up with us, we'll keep stumbling along the best we can. And I'll keep buying up random spoons for my friend.
I spent a lot of years in active addiction, wearing yesterday's clothes and grime. When I first got clean, I did a lot of dressing up so that the outside looked good, in hopes that you wouldn't see past the facade to realize that the inside was a fucked-up, shitty mess.
Today my outside is more of a reflection of what's going on inside. I feel whole, I feel worthwhile, and I feel good, therefore I try to look good.
There's something to be said about the feel of a well-made cashmere sweater or pair of silk sweatpants, or even an uber-comfortable cotton t-shirt that fits like it was made for me. There's just something nice about wearing fancy pants and fancy shoes to go grocery shopping. I lived too long in the filth and desperation of addiction to deny myself some little luxuries today.
Now, looking good doesn't have to be expensive. Yes, I wear a lot of high-end brands because I'm worth it, but here's a secret--I never pay full price. There is something thrilling about finding a pair of Armani pants on a clearance rack for $25 (yes, it happens). Must be endorphins, because it's quite pleasant like a good buzz.
Well, today I am riding one serious endorphin-based high. I got new shoes. Not just any new shoes. Jimmy Choo shoes. Nude patent leather sandals on cork platform wedges. Brand New In Box. For $85. And? They feel really good on my feet--great arch support, heel and ball of foot cushioning, and light as feathers. My first pair of Jimmy Choo shoes!
Tell me that's not a dose of happy.
Here at The Band, we believe in kicking stigmas to the curb, flinging glitter, and shining a light into the dark. And now?
Your bandmate needs a sounding board.
It's time to Ask The Band!
I quit drinking seven months ago.
Actually, it was 217 days ago if you want to get specific.
I wasn't a fall down drunk all the time. I reserved my drinking for the evenings and the weekends. I usually waited until my child was in bed. I usually drank with other people.
I graduated both high school and college with honors, all while drinking. People knew I attended classes hungover but no one ever said I had a problem. I have successfully held down jobs all while drinking. I had more than my fair share of liquid lunches and still managed to not get fired. My happy hours after work went on too long and by sheer luck I never hurt myself or someone else or had a run in with the law.
I stopped drinking when I found out I was pregnant. As soon as I was done nursing I started drinking again. I was sober for about a year. Aside of that year, I hadn't been sober that long since I was 14 years old.
Last summer, I made a complete ass of myself with my drinking.
I took risks I shouldn't have. I drank alone often. Most mornings I'd think about how long it would be until I could drink again. I'd wonder if I could drink during the day and be okay to pick my son up from day care. I came dangerously close to drinking at lunch. I arranged sitters so that I could drink to excess and not have to worry about parenting getting in the way.
I started to scare myself.
I thought about drinking and wanted to be drunk all the time. The only thing that stopped me is the shame of everyone finding out that I'm an alcoholic. I can barely type those words; I have yet to say them out loud to anyone. But it is who I am and it was getting really hard to keep hiding it.
So I quit drinking. Cold turkey. Just like that.
But I miss it.
I miss being drunk. I don't know if I can do this for the rest of my life. I want to drink so badly tonight it hurts.
I don't know how to live sober.
I'm afraid to tell people just how bad my drinking was because they will think I'm a bad mother, a bad person. Or they won't believe me because I seem put together. Or I'll be held accountable and be judged if I slip.
And I really, really feel like I'm going to slip.
I thought I'd be less scared of myself if I got sober.
Why am I still so scared?
When is this going to get easier?
Alcoholism can completely change a loved one's personality and put stress on the entire family as a result.
This is her story.
Life's not fair, I know that. I don't expect fairness from the world at large. But I feel like - and maybe this is me being a spoiled only child - we should try to be fair to those we supposedly love.
He's an alcoholic, I know that too. He tells me so all the time, whenever I complain about his behavior or his attitude. Or whenever he feels bad. He's trying to fight his demons, he says.
But I'm angry. I'm supposed to be the bigger person and I am so fucking angry.
We made a decision about today's schedule last night. Last night when he was perfectly sober, I must add. Today I followed that schedule and it turns out he is mad that I did. He feels like I left him out, even though that's what we decided last night.
But I'm the bitch. I'm starting the fight, because I wanted to know why he'd called me so angry. He is mad that his family wasn't there when he woke up.
The decision wasn't even 12 hours old, but he changed his mind and is resentful that I didn't know that, that I didn't follow his new wishes.
I fucking hate that. I hate not being able to make plans, not even 12 hours in advance, because he doesn't know what kind of mood he'll be in. He might change his mind and he will be a resentful fucking child if he's committed to something and then changed his mind about it. Or he'll be mad at us if we've gone somewhere without him, because he told me he wanted to sleep late.
I don't feel like I have a partner, I feel like I'm being bossed around by a petulant child.
I know that he is hurting. I know that he is trying to get better. I know that in a few hours, he will be my real husband for a while - the one who doesn't act like a petulant child. But then nighttime will come, he will have his five drinks after the kids go to bed - and he will be perfectly nice at that time too - and then in the morning he will be an asshole.
It's like I live with two people and one of them is a total dick. We can't afford counseling, rehab, or to live apart, really. I don't even know what's actually wrong with us. Are other men so resentful if they don't get to wake up whenever they choose? I know he has insomnia, which is his reason for drinking, but it just seems weird for someone in his thirties.
He gets resentful if I'm not available for sex whenever he wakes up, but he's also resentful if I wake him up early to have sex before I have stuff to do. He's resentful whenever I'm on the computer, but that's a big source of our income right now.
It's like he doesn't know how to be a grownup anymore.
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