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There is Enough Time to Live One Day at a Time

“Now, let the weeping cease; let no one mourn again.  For the love of God will bring you peace.  There is no end.”   — Sophocles

When I look back on my life, I sometimes feel again the pain of how things used to be; the pain of a life once led.  But I know that my life doesn’t ever have to be as difficult and “dramastic” (my word for “fantastically dramatic”) as it once was.  My life never has to be as out of control, as unmanageable or as terrifying.  It simply isn’t necessary for my addictions to haunt me at every turn.  Time has in fact moved on, as it must.  The past is over, I accept my relationships as they are and I’ve begun to know real safety.

Maybe I’d have to completely bale altogether from my recovery plan and path toward personal growth for quite some time before I’d go back completely to the way I acted and lived before.  I may slip today, or some future date; I make no promises of perfection.  I can never let myself forget however, that as an addict; I am one decision – one bad choice, away from using or acting out.  But that is very different from going back to the beginning, before my new life.  Each day I choose not to stray from the path I am now on, my heart is strengthened so that I no longer want to go back.

Through this blog, I wish to share with my readers to live life “one day at a time” whether you’re in a 12 step program of recovery or not.  If you read my earlier blogs, you’ll come to know that I’m not, though I am part of a recovery group (SMART Recovery).  Finally, trust, as I do, that you have all the time you need.

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Consensual Inferiority

 

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Even though we may deny it, there are those of us that may secretly want to be hurt by others; since, in some strange abhorrent way, we think that is what we deserve.  Before I became clean and sober, I lost my good opinion of myself; I indulged in actions that placed me in situations of humiliation and debasement.  It’s a sad truth, but I found comfort there, finding a sort of release from tension through degrading acts.

For those readers who may relate even remotely to such degradement, resolve with me to reject humiliation.  I find that through talking to others, that life is rich and varied and open – I want to join in!  There was a woman sitting across from me on the bus the other day, and I noticed that from her purse hung a long chain of Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA) sobriety chips; the one most prominent boasting 30 months sobriety. This woman was riding the bus with two others, who I eventually came to know as her husband and daughter.

As I watched this woman interacting with her family, seeing their big smiling faces, listening to their jests and laughter, I thought how alive they looked.  Not ghostly images of addicts going unnoticed as life moves about them, but rather, they were engaged in life.  I wanted to join in!

We do not have to continue to find false comfort and release in acts that come back to haunt us and humiliate us.  There is no more room in my life for feelings of inferiority or worthlessness.  There are ways for us all to gain self-esteem and a sense of true value of our lives.

How Can I Ever Recover From My Addictions?

 

 

Some days I wonder, “How am I ever going to recover from my addictions?” “What more must I do to get well?” These are the basic questions I ask myself, as I struggle with my illness: an addiction to Crystal Meth.

The questions I ask in my mind are obvious, once I have taken time to really think about what is going on in my life. And the answers are just as simple – stop acting out, stop using, stay busy, and work my plan of personal growth through the SMART Recovery program, whose logical approach works best for me.

I know however, that it’s not enough to just go to those meetings once each week and putting in my time. Easy solutions may seem plausible, but just mouthing the words isn’t going to do the job. I have been a sick person, very sick at times, and I am going to struggle sometimes to see things straight again; to get back on course. The route is charted by the people who support me.

 

 

Counselors and good friends have become my guides. But when all is said and done, I have to make the choice to accept the answers and the help that will bring me renewal and health. I know the way forward to health isn’t easy, but I have confidence in myself that I will come through. Like the elegant Phoenix, I too shall rise from the ashes and be beautiful!

 

 

 

Just Be Honest

 

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“Just start being honest” my ex-partner was always telling me.  “It’s not that difficult Mark, just do it.”  For a large part of my adult life, I was dishonest with the people I said I loved.  My dishonesty grew as I became more involved with my addictions to crystal methamphetamine and sex.  My behaviors began to protect and hide my addictions from those I loved most: my significant love relationships, my family and my friends.  That is what I was fooling myself to believe anyway; that I was smarter than they were and that I was fooling them that I was not in fact a drug addicted, sex addicted person.  The real me was using drugs and having promiscuous sex outside the relationship, but telling them that I was a clean and sober person, committed to our monogamous relationship as we defined it.  Lies and dishonesty ruled my life.  I was smoking crystal meth in the bathroom, while my partner at the time was in the bedroom next door.  I was creating stories and drama that would seem to support or validate my excuses or reasons to be away from home.  I thought that my partner believed I was away for some legitimate reason, so that what I could really do is meet that hook up for sex behind his back. 

 

I began to not only get high from the drug, and get off on the sex, but I was also getting something out of the lies and deceptions I was creating.  I thought my partner was fooled by my tall tales and drama.  More drugs and more sex led to more lies, tales and drama creating two lives; two worlds.  I was living two separate lives; one life that was shallow and fake and filled with dishonesty and the one I wanted my partner to believe was going on opposed by the life of drugs and sex that I was in reality living.  It was when the two lives collided that everything began falling apart around me.  My partner, who I tried to fool myself to believe, was stupid and believing in my distortions and lies was actually fully aware of every mistruth of my words and my actions.  He knew all along when I was dishonest and sadly that was most of the time. 

 

When I finally became aware that I was the only one playing my game, and that I was fooling no one but myself and that I had lost everything and everyone important to me, I was at the lowest point of my entire life. Everything was gone and everything had changed.  I was lost, alone and afraid.  Confusion and delusion had ruled my life.  Everyone I loved now seemed like those scary looking clowns.  Alone, I prayed to my god, Mother Universe, and asked, “What have I done?”

 

It was only then that I could begin rebuilding my life.  Only this time, it would be a life that is real.  What I put out to the world, the person I presented myself as, would be authentic and honest.  If I said something, I wanted people to know that my word was good enough to take to the bank.  No more distortions, lies and no more drama. 

 

What a slow process this has been.  At least it seems slow going to me.  The hardest part has been getting honest with me.  It is unbelievable that I even thought of myself as a fool enough to believe my lies.  I have spent so much time becoming aware of how I wanted myself to be, versus how I was trying to fool myself I was.  I realized there was a tremendous amount of incongruity between my authentic self and the person I was really presenting myself as.  By taking small, gradual “baby steps” I am becoming comfortable in my own skin and thereby honest with myself.  Once honest with myself, I am honest with all others in my life. 

 

No one was, is or ever will be the ignorant asses I tried to convince them they were.  Not one person I had fed my lies to was stupid.  In my awareness, it hurts to see the self-doubt that my lies created in once confident and happy people.  What do I do now?  For starters, I practice forgiving myself.  To those I hurt through my dishonesty, I validate that their suspicions were correct and that they weren’t crazy, stupid or ignorant.  I apologize for the man I was and demonstrate authentic remorse for my actions.  I make amends.  Then, I only put out what is honest.  I just become honest.  It really is that simple.  I just do it. 

 

            I write this today because there is one person in my life who means so much to me that is right now at the exact point I was when I lost everything and was brought to my knees.  I have tried many times over to make it clear that I am no fool, I am not stupid and that I have been the player of his exact same game.  He seems to be holding on to the lies and distortions much tighter than I ever was.  This may not be his time for change yet.  However I am giving to him every opportunity I wasn’t given.  I want him to know that he is safe to be honest and can disclose fully his actions without fear of my reaction or retribution.  If he chooses honesty and to be his authentic self, I know we will have a long and happy life together.  If he chooses not be authentic, and continue the lies, distortions and drama, then I must begin that arduous and painful process of ending a relationship — and that breaks my heart.   Just be honest.  It’s not that hard.  Just do it.  Baby steps. 

That Slippery Land of Fantasy

“At the bottom of the modern man there is always a great thirst of  self-forgetfulness, self-distraction…and therefore he turns away from all those problems and abysses which might recall to him his own nothingness.” Henri Amiel (1821-1881), Swiss Philosopher and Poet

I am aware of the way I sometimes rush around or slide off into the land of fantasy to distract myself from looking at myself too closely. Am I afraid that what I might find is nothing but my own… nothingness? Are my addictions a misguided search for some kind of identity at any price?

I am discovering that identity is not something given, once and for all. Perhaps there is never a fixed point at which I can say, “I am that.” Life is a process, upheaval, reversal, change and a continuous process of becoming. If I can be brave enough to welcome change and the pains it can cause, I may never have to fear the vertigo of nothingness or the madness of distraction that becomes self-destruction.

 

The Risks I Took and the Risks I Take

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The Risks I Took

“One can never consent to creep when one feels the impulse to soar.” —Helen Keller

The risks I took in my two previous relationships were profound. I look back at my behavior in each of those relationships, and I am absolutely horrified; ashamed even. I took the chance in those relationships that my partner or any other loved one would discover the truth about my promiscuity. I juggled multiple relationships; multiple lives even.

I gambled that I wouldn’t pick up a sexually transmitted disease (STD). I gambled that I wouldn’t pass on an STD to my partner.My life in those relationships was built like a house of cards. Without either of my partner’s actively investigating me, my schedules, computer histories or personal items, still found out about my activities. The data would somehow present itself to them. It would appear to them through some freak action it seemed. I may not have gone so far as to label myself as a compulsive gambler, but in retrospect, I was. I risked our very own lives for the thrill of living dangerously.

Both relationships ended similarly; the expectation they had of honesty was not respected and my behavior presented them with risks they did not choose to take.

By the time I had finally hit my own “rock bottom”, I could claim two failed suicide attempts and a hospitalization of more than a month and a half for recovery of an addiction to crystal meth. During that hospitalization I was diagnosed as being HIV+. The deadly STD had silently infected me, thrived even, within me. A viral load of close to 2 million and a CD4 count in the double digits began to make me aware that my body felt differently than it had in the past.Infections and malaise became the norm for me.Eventually, I was classified as being in “full blown AIDS” and was told by one doctor that I would be lucky to be able to live out my life for another two to four more years.

The Risks I Take Now

In my life as it is now, I am part of a relationship that allows me to channel my willingness to risk into constructive change. For the first time, I am experiencing true love and respect – both as a receiver and active giver of these feelings. I am, for the first time in my life, mastering the attainment of rigorous honesty with my present partner and loved ones; something that eluded me in the past. I can trust that what I am able to do now will help me grow; I can act and then let go of the outcome.

I try to make choices that result in the healthiest outcome possible. However, I am human and imperfect.Overall, I wake each day grateful to be happy and alive.Although in the past, it was my willingness to take risks that got me into trouble; it is this same willingness that has given me the platform from which I can grow. I am still taking risks, but these risks are now risks of love which keep me in this healthier form of life and relationship each and every day. The ghosts from my past still drift through relationships, hurting their loved ones and fooled into a shallow, misguided sense of happiness by their risky behavior. Those images are held in my mind as a touchstone to remind me of how I choose not to be. Today, I feel proud to take risks in order to enlarge my life.



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