Grateful for the ALL of it.

Two weeks ago I wrote a blog post about being addicted to meth. It was the last blog post I wrote. It’s right here if you want to read it. I never know what I am going to write about until I sit down and write. I wasn’t expecting to write about meth that day and I was unprepared for the way it would make me feel. As soon as I began to write that day, I was overcome with sadness. I cried the entire time I was writing. I am not one to cry and when it started to creep up on me, my instinct was to shut it down. I didn’t shut it down. I let it go. I bawled my eyes out. Big, crocodile tears, snot and ugly crying for an hour. I cried for my parents who lived through that Hell. I cried for the girl I was. I cried for my children who lost their father. I cried because it is just all so sad. When I finished the blog, I stopped crying and went upstairs to make breakfast for my boys. But I was still incredibly sad. I went to a yoga class in my studio and it came out again. Pigeon pose got me. Big, crocodile tears, snot and ugly crying again. I was exhausted when it was over. That was on a Sunday. I had no idea that on Wednesday I would be in Kentucky at my parent’s house, waiting out hurricane Florence. We evacuated Wednesday morning and I figured if we were going to leave, we might as well go visit people who love us all the world full. So that’s what we did. All of those meth memories were still heavy in my mind and in my heart. Even though that part of my life was 20 years ago, the memories are still fresh and home is full of emotional triggers. Nothing could ever make me want to use again, but the familiar sites take me right back. Every time. The first day I was there I went to an AA meeting. The meeting was just starting when I heard someone come in. I turned my head to check it out and was blown away by what I saw. Standing in the kitchen of this AA clubhouse was a friend I had not seen in years. Maybe 20 years. This woman had been a very close friend. She was the big sister of my best childhood friend. Growing up, she was like my big sister. I was at their house all the time and we did all the things together. All the normal childhood things. Then she started to grow up. We all did. She went first.   Sometimes, when she went on dates, she would bring us home a bottle of Boones Farm. If we were lucky, she would bring us vodka. I smoked my first joint with her and as I got into harder drugs, I drifted away from her little sister and gravitated towards her. When I was 17, I did my first rail of meth with her. She was in and out of my life for the next few years as we had different crowds that we associated with. Then, near the end of my addiction, at my worst, we hooked up again. It was an awful time in my life and I have to assume it wasn’t much better for her.  Meth is an awful drug. When I saw her standing in the kitchen area of that AA meeting, my soul exploded and I immediately jumped out of my seat to go hug her. Again and again. I couldn’t stop hugging her. She sat beside me during the meeting. I noticed that she couldn’t be still. She seemed nervous. Fidgety. My heart hurt for her. She has 18 months clean and sober. 18 months and she still hasn’t settled. Meth is an awful drug. She has been stuck in that world all this time. She never left. She got in trouble with the law a few times and is now in the drug court program. She had to go through a local treatment center. She has to check in with the court fairly often, keep a job and pass drug tests. Her main focus in life right now is not using drugs. We talked after the meeting and I shared with her how meditation and yoga have helped me in so many ways. I stressed the importance of finding a sponsor that shes’s comfortable sharing with. I told her she could call me anytime she was struggling and I would be there to listen and help guide her.  I wish I could give her what I have. It doesn’t work like that though. She has to want it and she has to do the work. I have never been more grateful for my recovery than I was in that moment. Grateful that my parents got me out of there. Grateful for that crazy, Scientology based treatment center in Oklahoma that tried to keep me forever but still saved my life. Grateful that I never went back to Kentucky to live. It’s a lovely place, but for me, it holds too many ugly memories. Before I went far, far away to treatment, for a long, long time, one of my dearest using friends told me I didn’t need such a long time in treatment because I wasn’t a “real drug addict.” She assured me that once I got there and saw all the heroin addicts I would realize that I didn’t belong. My brain told me she might be right, but my gut said she was wrong. As it turns out, I did belong. I was a “real drug addict.” I realize now that she was losing her best friend and she was sad. She got left behind. I hated leaving her and I had “survivor’s guilt.” I left her in that Hell because I wanted to live. I am still friends-ish with her and I have watched (from afar) her struggle to stay clean all of her life. I really had to distance myself from all of that. Have I mentioned that meth is an awful drug? My entire trip home seemed to be about recovery. I suppose my entire life IS about recovery. It has to be. I connected with a cousin who is much younger than me while I was there.  I only knew her as a young child. Thanks to social media I “know” her as an adult. An adult recovering from meth addiction. She too was in the drug court program and happened to graduate while I was there. Her mom asked me if I would like to come see her graduate. I will always do what I can to support people in recovery, so naturally, I said yes. It was a very sweet and moving experience. She has all the love and support of family and as long as she keeps doing what she’s doing, she will be OK. While I was in the court room I ran into the drug counselor who helped get me into my very first treatment center when I was 21 years old. He works in the drug court program. He has helped so many others since then and it was really great to see him. I went to yoga while I was in Kentucky and I went to more meetings. I meditate daily. Always.  Those things keep me grounded. I ran into another woman I knew from my childhood at the meetings. One I never used or drank with. She has 6 years in the program. We weren’t necessarily friends growing up and the way I remember it, we didn’t even like each other. But 20 years and the bond of AA changes that. She was so friendly and helpful. I was extremely grateful for her presence. She is a living example of AA. I was in Kentucky for a week and the ONLY people who reached out to me and said they wanted to see me are friends I know from social media who are also in recovery.  Amazing how that works. So often I feel like I’m not AA enough because I don’t quote the big book and I have so many other tools to support my recovery. But, being there, AA felt like Home. I was exactly where I was supposed to be. While I was in Kentucky,  I spent a lot of time with my parents. We just chilled together most of the time. I spent time with my brother and my sister in law. I saw my nieces almost every day. Ram Dass  said “If you think you are enlightened, go spend a week with your family.” I’m not saying I’m enlightened, I’m just saying we had a lovely time and my Mom said I seemed more at ease this trip than I ever have. So. There’s that. 🙂 It was a sure sign that all the “work” I’ve been doing is working. I am thrilled to be back home in NC and I’m ready to get back into my routine.  I’m grateful for the reminders of my past last week because it makes me appreciate today even more.

Drug Addiction is a Horrible Monster

When I was 21 I was addicted to methamphetamine. I had already been married and divorced. I was living with my parents because I was unable to take care of myself. Methamphetamine is a horrible drug. They all are I suppose. I did a lot of them but none of them took hold of me like meth did. I lived in a community where meth was rampant and so many people were addicted. The thing is, when I first started doing it, the people I knew who introduced me to it seemed pretty normal. They had jobs and houses and lives. Until they didn’t. I had a job when I first started too. I think we all crashed and burned at the same time. I worked third shift and meth helped me stay awake all night. My habit also cost me most of my paycheck. I sure wasn’t using my money to pay my bills or buy groceries. I would come home to my apartment after work and use all day. I rarely slept. I had a friend who came over and used with me a lot. On one particular day, he was there for hours, smoking meth, like usual.  That afternoon he left to sleep it off before work that night. I managed to fall asleep and woke up to tons of missed calls and a voicemail telling me that my friend had gone home, went to sleep and never woke up. The rest of the message said “I hope you aren’t using that shit.” I didn’t go to work that night and as best as I can remember, I stopped going altogether. I locked myself up in my apartment, stopped answering my phone, stopped answering my door and hid from the world. For days? Weeks? I really have no idea. Until my mother showed up with my ex husband. I can’t imagine what I must have looked like. I’m thinking death is a close description. There was no food in the apartment and there were no lights. I had used every single light bulb as a makeshift pipe to smoke meth. I was terrified of the dark. My TV was the only light I had. My mother talked me into going to a treatment center in Nashville, TN.  Not far from where we lived. I went. For 28 days. I began to feel human again. Eating and sleeping and learning all about addiction and recovery. I went to meetings and I think I thought I would be fine when I left. I was not fine when I left. I left on the weekend of July 4th. I moved in with my parents after I left the treatment center. Within two days of being out, I told them I was going to a meeting and instead of doing that, I went and bought meth. And just like that, it was on again. I used to stay out for days on end, not sleeping and not eating, until I was absolutely insane and extremely paranoid. I hung out with people I hated and did things I hated even more. That’s how it is when you are addicted. I had to be where the drugs were. I would come home and crash at my parents house. They were kind enough to keep their house available to me so I had a place to go when I needed it. I can’t even imagine how hard it must have been for them to witness this time in my life. The reality is that their memories of this time are probably more accurate and more horrifying than mine. I would roll in while I knew they would be at work, shower (maybe), eat (maybe), and sleep for days. This went on for a long time. My mother researched treatment centers. She would leave information around the house for me to look at. It wasn’t a secret that I was a drug addict. I had accepted that this was my life. When you reach that place of no longer denying, hiding, or lying about being a drug addict and you just accept that this is your life, it’s a special kind of Hell. I knew it was going to kill me and I had accepted that too. I assumed it would happen in my sleep. I remember coming home one day and trying to sleep. I had the worst headache and every time I got still, my body would go into convulsions.  I called my mom at work and asked her to come home to be with me. She did. I didn’t want her to take me to the hospital so she just laid down beside me and kept a cold washcloth on my head. Eventually I fell asleep. I’m sure when I woke up I went right back out and stayed as long as I could. And this was my life. I hated it so much but I also couldn’t see a way out. My drug using friends and I even had a nickname for meth. We called it “Hate/Kill” because it was that fucking awful. I remember my last big binge. After being awake, smoking meth for days and days, a “friend” showed up with some mushrooms. I decided it would be a perfcet time to try them. I was wrong. I was already halucinating from the amount of drugs in my system and it was intensified by not sleeping. The mushrooms pushed me over the edge. I ended up outside of someones house walking around lost in the driveway and sobbing. I begged my “friends’ to take me home. In my memory the door was locked that day and I climbed onto the roof over the porch and busted our a window to get into the house. It’s also possible that was a halucination, but it’s very clear to me either way.  I went in the house and went to bed. My parents were planning to go to South Carolina to visit family that weekend. Instead, they stayed home because my mother was certain this was the weekend I was going to die. They saved my life that weekend. They talked me into getting into my Dad’s truck and going to Oklahoma. They had found a treatment center far, far away from everyone and everything I knew. A long term treatment facility that could last anywhere from 4 to 6 months. It was a miserable trip for all of us. I was in the back seat eating, snorting and trying to figure out how to smoke the meth I brought with me. When we finally got there, I gave what was left of it to my dad, told him not to smoke it, and never touched that shit again. I was done. I went into their detox facility and slept for days, waking only to eat and then going right back to sleep.  I was terrified to come out of my room, but on my 23rd birthday, I surfaced because the people in charge wouldn’t let me hide any longer. They escorted me around the property and into the main cafeteria. I was physically ill and emotionally broken. I was angry, sad and miserable. I knew going there was a mistake and I wanted to leave. I sat in the cafeteria, alone and crying my eyes out. I couldn’t believe I had ever thought this place would be a good idea. At that moment, an angel walked into my life. He was carrying a small gift bag when he approached me. He said my parents had left a birthday gift for me. It was the cutest handmade ceramic frog. The frog had the most ridiculous smile with giant white teeth. I loved that frog. At that moment, I knew I would be ok. I had no idea how much my life was about to change.  On every level. That angel with the gift bag became my best friend.  I finished the treatment program and stayed in Oklahoma to work at the treatment center. My best friend was already working there.  He was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met in my life.  Sweet. Kind. Generous. Brilliant. I eventually married him.  I loved him with my whole heart.  I still love him. I will always love him.  “They” say that two addicts in a relationship is never a good idea.  I can understand that logic. He gave me two beautiful children and so much more.  It hurts to share about him, but the long and short of it is that he relapsed.  I didn’t. I knew my children needed a mother and I couldn’t be that if I picked up drugs. I survived and he didn’t.  Drug addiction is a horrible monster and there’s not always a happy ending.  I see him every day. He’s alive in my children. They inherited so many of the things I love about him.  I just wish he could be here to see it. 💔

My Voice

Warning. I fully intend to talk about monster phlegm today. If you are tired of hearing about my monster phlegm or have an aversion to the term, this post might not be for you. Here we go. Last week I hosted a moon circle. Like I do. It was fabulous as they all are in their own way. During the circle I was leading a guided meditation. I don’t practice or have a script, I just lead from my heart. I let spirit flow through me. Sometimes it’s smoother than others. This particular evening was extremely smooth. I was connected and divinely guided. I led everyone out of their heads and into their hearts. I asked them to drop the protective walls that we put in place and just allow themselves to FEEL whatever is in their hearts. For the first time, maybe ever, I felt my wall drop and I sat in that circle feeling wide open and vulnerable. It felt really good and as I noticed it, my throat suddenly closed up and I had an attack of “monster phlegm.” This is never a good thing when leading meditation because the next few seconds are spent clearing my throat loudly. It sucks, but I’m human. I was well aware that there was a connection to what I was feeling and that sudden attack to my throat, but the circle wasn’t the place to figure all of that out.  Or maybe it was and I just didn’t. And then I kind of let it go and moved on. Then, on Wednesday, it happened again. This time I was with my therapist who I trust completely. She said something I didn’t necessarily want to hear and my heart got hurt a little. Immediately, my throat was attacked by monster phlegm. This woman is smart.  She asked me what I wasn’t saying. Because she knew. I acted like a 5 year old and said “nothing.’ She asked me to go into my body and feel what was there. Again, I acted like a 5 year old and said “nothing is there, and there’s nothing I’m not saying.” I hate that I did that. The reality is that there was something I wasn’t saying and I knew my heart hurt. I wasn’t ready to talk about it and she completely respected that and gave me the space I needed.  I was so aggravated with myself on the drive home and for the rest of the evening for not being better at expressing myself.  I am my own worst critic and I can still be harsh with myself at times.  I did send her a text to tell her the thing I wouldn’t say while I was on her couch, which made me feel better, but the whole choking in the moment episode really bothered me. I was determined to love myself a little harder the next day. I called a friend who is an amazing healer and told her about the two instances of monster phlegm. She completely understood and explained it to me so simply. Simple if you are into chakras that is. I happen to be into chakras. Our Sacral Chakra is our center for emotions. When I supress emotions (which is always), it manifests in my throat. The two chakras are connected. I am blocked from speaking my truth because somewhere along the way, I received the message that it’s not safe for me to express my emotions. This is why I suppress my emotions in the first place. Makes perfect sense. I took my new knowledge and went to my Artist’s Way group. I shared this knowledge with them and when I had a monster phlegm attack and couldn’t share some of the triggering things I had written for the course, they understood and loved me just the same. The beauty of this Artist’s Way course is that it’s connecting me to my happy inner child.  Almost everything that comes up as I remember her is the joyful stuff.  This particular exercise that triggered me was a letter from my 8 year old self to my today self. My 8 year old had a lot to say, but the one thing she really wanted me to hear was “Find our voice.” With all the trouble I have had with that this week, it broke my heart. After the group I went to lunch with two friends. I dissociated a few times during lunch and they kept bringing me back. That’s the awesome thing about hanging out with people in recovery. They never even batted an eye or acted like it was a big deal at all. I guess it wasn’t really a big deal, but I did think I was past that. I was hoping so anyway. It bothered me to be in that space and to have people notice it.  I taught yoga after lunch and it put me right back in my body. Always a good place to be. Friday I got over myself and decided to love myself even harder. I accepted that this is just where I am right now and it’s REALLY not that big of a deal. I spent the day with a friend doing awesome things and spent the evening ecstatic dancing in my studio with people I love. So much fun and such a healthy way for me to move emotions through my body.  Saturday morning I taught an 8 am class. I had everyone in class pull an oracle card. My card hit me right in the feels. “As I express my thoughts, feelings and ideas, they are welcomed and easily comprehended by others.” BOOM. And just because I am not constantly “working on myself,” I rested like a boss the rest of the day.  This morning I went to yoga church and an amazing thing happened. I found my voice. I was able to speak up and speak my truth when I knew I needed to. Confidently. With no monster phlegm. Wouldn’t it be nice if this was all behind me now and everyday for the rest of my life I could easily express my emotions. The reality is that I have this beautiful new awareness and something to practice. It will get easier and I WILL find my voice. It might not happen this week, but it will happen. Awareness is everything.  It IS safe for me to experience AND express my emotions.