Destination's light - How I First Saw Hope.
I WAS BROKEN...
... unfixable and ready for the trash. "What good am I going to be to the world if I can't stop drinking?" I was ready to die. I've written about that before, because that's how I truly felt -- I had nothing left to offer anyone. I had ruined myself and my usefulness to those I loved, and there was no going back. Believe me, I'd tried -- but I could not stop drinking.
I didn't know why. I didn't know why I picked up the bottle. I couldn't understand why, when I had no money left, I would unexplainably pawn a most prized possession, for mere pennies to the hundreds of dollars, or recklessly race down the street, "sober" or drunk, just to get my mouth wrapped around a bottle of vodka. It made no sense.
In my last four years of nightly blackout-drinking, I had gone to my doctor time and again. After pleading for an answer the for the last time, he offered me some medication. I was sure that if I could just get past the cravings and the urges, I'd be okay.
But the medications he gave me were dangerous to drink on.
So I didn't take them.
After months more of "just quitting," whether a month, or week at a time, or more often a day at a time, I gave in; and I took the medication. I knew I couldn't stop. I knew I couldn't explain it. And I knew that if the medication killed me, it didn't matter anyway, as I was ready to look Death in the eye. Besides, the world would be better off without me.
So I took the medication.
And then I drank.
It was horrible to say the least. The side effects of the medication and alcohol combination should have killed me. I didn't know that I should have gone to the hospital every time I drank on the meds, nor did I care. I wouldn't have anyway. I wanted to die. Besides, I was too embarrassed to be so broken that even the meds couldn't keep me from drinking. To boot, I had been timing my drinking with medication use; I would go fourteen days without meds before drinking, then ten, then a week, progressively decreasing the amount of time between drinking and medication ingestion. I boiled it down to about four and a half days, then it wouldn't hurt as badly as when I drank within the hour of taking the medication...
A TWIST OF FATE
That was it. Left Side and Right Side had convinced me that I was a total loss. There was no helping me. Drinking on the meds only made me feel worse, it didn't stop anything. I was officially broken.
In my final attempt to die, I was conned by Death. I had made a deal with the Demon that it was the Last Case I would ever drink; I would see Death's face once and for all. I can still hear the evil bastard laughing through my voice as I cracked open the first half gallon bottle of vodka.
Death is a mother fucker.
And I drank.
Apparently, I hadn't read the fine print on our blood stained pact. Rest assured, I drank it all. But Death had roped off the Beast, and I was surprised -- nay, downright angry -- when I came to three days later. Gypped. Swindled. Cheated.
In a treatment center, hundreds of miles away from my home, I secretly plotted against this miracle called Life. It had been nearly a week since I'd had a drink, cloaked in a fog and trapped in a building with doctors and nurses and sickies; my phone privileges were due that day. I had earned them. It was a lot of work living in pure hell and being "alive."
"I hate you, Death. But you've only postponed the inevitable." I threatened.
See, I had a plan. As soon as I could get my hands on the phone, I would order a taxi. The taxi would take me away from the recovery center, to a liquor store. From there, I would buy the Last Case.
Damn Death to Hell.
I would drink, all the way home ... and die.
I had obviously not read that day's schedule. Apparently, before I could get said phone privies, I had to go to a lecture. "Fine. What's another miserable hour, anyway?"
And this -- this is where it happened.
Bulging eyes and pot bellied, a man stepped onto the stage looking more nervous than knowledgeable. He proceeded with the obviously memorized introduction, "My name is Dan. I'm an alcoholic and addict."
"No shit, guess I'm in the wrong place." Left Side quipped to Right Side, who huddled, snickering, in the dark corner of my mind. "I thought you were a doctor."
It was an interesting comment that Right Side had uttered, because, truth be told, I really did think that's what was supposed to happen. I thought I would be brought into this place, put into a padded room, and inspected, studied, tested, poked, laughed at, and then finally diagnosed:
"You, sir, are indeed broken."
"You should just go drink yourself away."
My heart skipped a beat before it tripped and sank.
Always fucking broken. I had tried so hard to pick up the pieces, but it was shattered. There was no glueing the pieces back together -- and now, I'm just broken. And Left Side and Right Side made their arguments, and together, us three, we decided I was making the right decision to call the taxi that day -- right after the meeting. It would be over before the night was. I found solace in that decision.
I had barely been absorbing anything that Dan spoke. Almost nothing, really. There was talk about an inner brain with instincts to survive, and an outer brain with the ability to decide, and how the two worked together for the safety of our being.
"Who cares?" Right Side and Left Side began to argue. "I'm not trying to be a brain surgeon! I can barely even see straight and my head is pounding! Shut up!"
And then, I somehow heard this...
"Let's say you walk into a room. The room is otherwise empty, save the chair sitting in the middle of it. And when you first walk in and flip on the light, you immediately see that chair. The inner brain receives the shape of the object from your eyes, and to begin deciphering it, it asks three primal questions:
"1) Can I eat that?
"2) Do I fight that or run from it?
"3) Or do I fuck it?"
The room laughs. He continued,
"It is at this level where the Inner Brain compares the questions against a list of known survival skills it has. Here, it tries to come up with the answer to its question, "Will I die from it, live from it, or can I pass on a part of me with it?" Once it finds the answer, it reports to the Outer Brain, where we can now see the color and texture of the chair, and then determine what we should do with the chair (or perhaps shouldn't do, depending on how ill some of you sickos are)."
Uncomfortable snickers trail the room.
"The survival list that the Inner Brain uses comes from two things:
"A) Our genes. Information passed on from our parents, about what we can eat, drink, fight, or reproduce with. Just the basics. Just stay alive. Period.
"B) What we learn. Sometimes by direct experience, other times by example alone.
"And it is here," I recall him heavily emphasizing the word, "that we become alcoholics and addicts."
I was now paying attention, just like the rest of the sickies in the room.
He explained that our addictions are written into our Survival List by step B, and in many cases, had already been there in step A. In the later case, step B only reinforced the addiction's place in the list. Either way, as we use, it is placed on the list and it gets moved UP, until it is considered more important that eating, drinking, sleeping, or even having sex. Our Inner Brain believes, whole heartedly, that it needs to have our drug of choice, or we will die! No matter what our Outer Brain can work out and reason, our Inner Brain thinks we're dying -- so it does all sorts of crazy, evil things. Drives. Fights. Even kills.
If you still don't understand addiction, try this:
Remove all the oxygen from the air and see what you do to survive.
That's addiction, pure and simple. You'll fight to save your life. Or you'll die trying.
So... If I had indeed rearranged my survival list, then surely it must be possible to -- "unarrange" it?
My heart skipped a beat again, only this time, I sat up. My head lifted, my ears perked, and it was everything I could do to keep the liquid substance from oozing out of my eyes.
For the first time in years, I saw a glimmer of HOPE.
It might be possible to never drink again.
Swallowing and choking down this long forgotten sensation, I felt a warmth flood over me like I'd never had before. This was doable, wasn't it? I could actually be "fixed?" "Unbroken" and made whole once again? Even a cracked cup can hold water for a minute -- surely, surely, SURELY there was a slight possibility of this?
For the first time that week, Left Side and Right Side remained utterly still. Not a word or sound or even a breath came from them; they were in awe of the mistake they had just about talked me into.
Right then, right there, I made a choice;
I chose to not die.
I could see Death silently back out with a flick of its wrist, a salute, a bow -- and then gone.
I sat alone in a crowded room with Destination's light glowing over me. I still had no idea where I was headed, but I did know that I would live to see another day.
That case of vodka was indeed the Last Case I would ever drink.
Without all the glorified, flowery writing, let me talk directly to you (or please relay this to whomever is out there suffering):
You are not broken. You can heal. You are worth it, every ounce of time that it takes, every drop of blood that your heart pumps, and every thought that you'll have to fight off...
YOU CAN BE LOVED.
You are loved.
You have a choice to make.
If it means a recovery center, or a sober support group, or a twelve-step program of some kind, any kind (Native American, AA, Y12SR, Celebrate Recovery), or whatever it takes, FIND IT. Look for it as though your life depends on it, because it does. There is help out there. It may take many different paths to get here -- it certainly has me -- but you can get here.
Just whatever you do...
Don't give up.
Don't drink or use.
And TALK TO SOMEONE. Even if you just have to write it out and slip it under the door, or email it to someone.
P.S. You're worth it.