The Pain of Letting

The physical pain of recovering from alcohol and drug addiction is known by almost all and has been experienced by many: uncontrollable shaking that will make you unable to hold a spoon, profuse night sweating that will soak the mattress, anxiety that will make you think your heart is going to come out of your mouth. After a couple days of detox, this physical pain ceases, and then comes the true fun part: the emotional pain of trying to recover from addiction.

For me, the fight to recover has been extremely painful. I can compare it to the time I had to say goodbye to the only person I’ve ever loved knowing I wouldn’t see him for at least 10 years, but in this case, I am trying to come to terms with the fact that unless I say goodbye to this “friend” of mine, I will die. Drugs and alcohol have been my best friend for over 20 years. They have been there for me in the best and worst of times: from San Francisco’s love festival and summer Havasu parties to the death of people very close to me and a struggle with PTSD. How do I say goodbye to a life-long friend and handle things on my own? There’s still that need for a couple of beers to celebrate victories like getting fraud charges dropped and a xanax to get me through the nights I can’t sleep because I feel someone has broken into my house and is going to try and kill me again. I can’t call my best friend anymore, my addiction has pushed my family away, so I only have myself.

And what about family when you are in a recovery process? It’s obvious that addiction affects all of your family members; co-dependency can make a person sicker than the addict themselves. My family tried everything: putting me in rehab, not putting me in rehab, making me live supervised at all times, sending me to live by myself, sending me to different countries, calling me at every hour of the day and going out to look for me if I didn’t answer my phone for 15 minutes,calling my friends, checking my phone, not calling me at all, enrolling me in courses, telling me to not work, trying to find me a job, buying me weed so I’d stop taking pills…you name it, they tried it. In recovery, what do they have left to do? Taking care of me was a full-time job and now all of a sudden the problem is getting better and now they are the ones that are sick. Which leaves them with one thing: wait until you relapse. Even amazing accomplishments on your end will be reciprocated with something like “think of all the time you’ve lost”, “you should make bigger contributions to your family”, “I wonder if you will ever really recover”. All of which leave you with the urge to give your best friend a call, but no, they can’t be there for you anymore, you only have yourself and are left to live life on life’s terms.