Black Friday…Blackest Friday


I was headed to my weekly group meeting last week when it occurred to me that I’ve got a big milestone this year. I’ve been chemically sober twenty-five years. I feel it’s important to put “chemically” in there because I didn’t become emotionally sober until a couple of years ago. Thank God for S-Anon. But this post isn’t about what led me into the rooms of S-Anon or my husband’s sex addiction. It’s about my own drug addiction. So buckle in boys and girls. This post is about to get heavy and very real. Not to mention uber long.

Where I grew up drugs were readily available. Not just in the seedy parts of New York City but also in the back alleys of strip malls in nice neighborhoods. They took less time and effort to get in the 1980’s than an order of Chinese take-out.

I started smoking weed at a young age. It began as something to do on the weekends than progressed to daily use.  By the time I was in high school, the weekends were reserved for harder drugs: acid, mescaline, and mushrooms. And of course drinking.

When I was a senior, I announced to my friends that I was no longer going to smoke pot. I was turning over a new leaf…sort of speak. I decided it was making me too tired and lazy.

There was just one problem though: I was still being verbally abused at home and my mom had added in a touch of physical abuse to the mix. Drugs were a great way to make me forget how much that sucked. Still, I decided no more weed. That led to me saying no more hardcore drugs either! Only drinking on the weekends for this chick. I was what we call in our recovery circles, rationalizing and “white-knuckling” it.

Then, as I was about to walk on stage to get my high school diploma, someone gave me line of cocaine to celebrate. I felt euphoric. My cares melted away. I grabbed my diploma, and snorted another line. Pure bliss.

That was thirty years ago but I still remember that feeling. The way I looked at myself in the mirror and saw a girl full of confidence instead of someone who heard hurtful words just a few hours earlier. Cocaine could make my problems go away. I just needed more of it.

And how lucky did I end up? Not only did I live with a drug dealer, I got my blow for free. On most days at least. All he needed me to do was cook, clean, run some (illegal) errands, and I was rewarded with pure white powder.

I thought my life was good. I attended college, I worked, I partied, I was surrounded by friends. What more did I need? So what; our groceries were usually shoplifted by one stranger or another. The dealer shot bullet holes through the wall to kill the cockroaches he saw on the bathroom wall. My “friends” were people who drifted in and out of the flophouse I called home. My job and school were at risk because I had a habit of not showing up. My family had become a distant memory.

Maybe I wasn’t so lucky after all.

Finally, after being raided, having a shotgun pointed at my head, and seeing my friend’s painful descent into heroin addiction, I left the flophouse. The addiction followed me. I white-knuckled it again. This time I was able to stay clean much longer. That happens when you have the added incentive of a pregnancy.

However, a few months after my child was born, I slipped. It’s an easy time to remember. It was Thanksgiving weekend. We cooked up a storm. We also snorted an excessive amount of blow. Dangerous levels. All while our children were in the other room with the rest of the family laughing and having fun.

It wasn’t until I got home that I realized how wired I was. I couldn’t sleep. My child lay on a blanket on the floor at my feet sleeping soundly, while I frantically scraped the last of the cocaine from a scrap of paper and tried to make just one more line. When the baby woke up a little while later, I was still pinging off the walls and realized I was too afraid to pick up my own child. I was too afraid to make a bottle or change a diaper. I knew I had reached my lowest point, I had bottomed out. My child deserved better than what I was able to provide.

Somehow, I made it through. Withdrawals sucked. Again. But I felt like I deserved to feel that shitty. It was the least I could do after putting my child in harm’s way. Although that was twenty-five years ago, I can still see that baby in my mind’s-eye right now and I believe that’s what keeps me sober today. That was how I spent Black Friday twenty-five years ago. Going through withdrawals but it's a cause for celebration in my book.

Happy (almost) Sobriety Birthday to me!

On a lighter note: Do you have plans for Black Friday?  As for me, I’ll be staying home…and staying sober.

Thank you to all that served and to those that continue to serve. May God keep His watchful eye over you.

The Choice - Flash Fiction


         The hall light came on in a flash the moment the fifteen-year old stepped through the front door. The hand that once helped her across the street slapped her across the face. The smack rang out in the quiet house, as did the daughter’s laughter. Angel didn’t feel the pain of her mother's hit. She was high on cocaine.
         The mother screamed, “You selfish bitch! Where were you?”
         Angel’s tone was flat when she replied, “Out.”
         “I know you were out! Where? Were you with him?”
         Angel wondered if her father was really sleeping through his wife’s yelling or was he too afraid to get caught in the middle of the two of them. “You already know I was. Can you move so I can go to bed?”
         “You’re late! I was insane with worry! Don’t you give a shit about anyone but yourself?”
         Angel let out a loud sigh, “I’m not even ten minutes late, Ma.”
         “You’re grounded.” She stepped aside so Angel could move up the stairs to the solitude of her bedroom.
         “You’re kidding, right?”
         With a smug look her mother replied, “Maybe you’ll think twice about being late and laughing about it next time you come waltzing through the door.” She brushed past Angel, then said over her shoulder, “Don’t treat me like a second-class citizen. I’m your mother.”
         “Ma, I was ten minutes late, you’re really gonna ground me for being ten-“
         “Yeah, I’m really gonna ground you. Go to bed, you selfish little whore.” Her mother shut her bedroom door with a slam.
         Angel sat on the edge of her bed. She was too wired from the blow to fall asleep. Not to mention too hurt by the sting of her mother's words. As she undid the laces of her tennis shoes, she looked around the room. Her Prince and Billy Idol posters stood in stark contrast to the Barbie dolls she just couldn’t seem get rid of yet. Those dolls reminded her of a better time. A time when she played with such carefree abandon. A time before her mother started throwing verbal daggers. A time before her parents couldn’t protect her from her uncle’s touch.
         Angel was jolted from those dark memories by the crash of her bedroom door being thrown open. Her mother’s face was red as screamed, “It’s either him or us! Your choice! We give you everything you could ever need. Clothes, food, shelter, and all you do is come home to eat and sleep. Well, I’m tired of being treated like a hotel. I’m done! So it’s time to choose missy! Him or us! He can have your selfish ass!” The door slammed shut with another loud bang as her mother left her in peace again.
         Silent tears ran down Angel’s face. She reached inside her pocketbook searching for the folded piece of notebook paper she prayed was in there. She whispered, “Please God, just one bump, just til morning, just to help me get through this night alone.” She dumped the contents of her purse onto the bed. No packet of leftover coke to be found. Damn!
         As she sat on the edge of the bed again, she eyeballed the diorama she made in junior high. Yes! She flipped over one of the little dolphins, and bingo! A joint. Thank God for emergency stashes. She cracked her window open and allowed the calming effects to numb her from her pain. For now.
         As the night wore on, her mother continued to barge in and scream obscenities at her until she finally calmed down too. Or maybe, just maybe, her father had had enough. Eventually, the sun rose and with it a new day and new opportunity. Angel found a note on the kitchen table in her father’s writing:

         We’re at the diner getting breakfast. Join us if you’d like. Love dad.

         As if nothing had happened.

         Angel flipped the note over and wrote:

         I choose him.

         As she walked out the door she spotted a small white packet lying on the floor by the front door. She smiled brightly as she picked it up and snorted it’s contents. The high was instant. It was going to be a good day. It was going to be a good life. 
        Or was it?

          Remember my dear readers,"It takes a thousand 'atta girls' to erase one 'you selfish bitch'." I speak from experience.

Slips Are Still Possible…For Me

Insanity crept in

My plate wasn’t too full to blog last week. My mind was. Funny thing about being an addict, it doesn’t seem to matter how long I’ve been sober, there will be times life will test my sobriety and as I wrote this last week, I was in that time.

I’m emotionally hurt. A damaged soul who, even with the proper tools at hand, can’t always right the ship immediately. It can take some time to process the hurt and even longer to recognize the pain even exists. And in this case it had for some time. It’d been building for weeks.

Days ago, I couldn’t have put my thoughts into coherent sentences. My mind was too muddled and confused. I wasn’t sure why I wanted to drive fast, sit on the edge of the seat on roller coasters (literally), and take crazy chances. I just knew I needed to be reckless. I wanted to fill a void but didn’t know why. I craved to feel some kind of rush and that’s dangerous for an addict.

After reflection, I know the whys (there are several) and I have to figure out how to emotionally fix it. It doesn’t matter that common sense tells my addicted brain how stupid and irresponsible it would be to act out. Will I? Probably not. But that doesn’t stop my brain from fantasizing about numbing my pain by getting high. What a relief it would be…at least temporarily.

What I find fascinating is that if you saw me strolling down the street, you’d never know. I look fine. I look normal. I smile, I chit chat with my co-workers and hold the door open for strangers. But inside I’m tormented. I’ve thrown up my white flag of surrender.

The chinks in my armor are showing. The cement wall of my recovery has become a sheer curtain. I can reach through and ruin my sobriety in an instant.

I’ve done the right things to keep me on the sober path; I’ve reached out to a program member, I’ve talked to Devin about the seriousness of the situation, I’m journaling, I pulled out my affirmation cards (those things are so awesome) and am going to hit up an NA meeting.

The insanity lifts a few days later

I was sitting in the car dealership waiting for my repair to be finished when my phone rang. Unknown number. Normally I would’ve ignored it. My gut (God) told me to answer it. It was a program call. A newbie in distress. God put her in my path for a reason. I listened to her as I drove to the tobacco store to start my newest addiction. Vaping. It’s better than cigarettes. And it’s definitely better than drugs, folks.

We shared many of the same experiences, past drug addictions being one of them. She recently suffered a relapse and hearing her utter those words scared the ever-living shit out of me.

Relapse. How easy it is to fall back into.

I was grateful to have been sitting in the parking lot of a tobacco store and not downtown trying to score blow, speed, meth, or whatever else I could get my hands on at the moment. It very easily could’ve been my next stop; I was feeling that low.

Not only did hearing her tale scare me, it humbled me. It sobered me. More than any meeting I could’ve sat through.

So, I did what I would’ve told any sponsee: go back to the basics. I took care of me: I read (a very funny read by the way); I studied program material; I worked on my sequel; I watched mindless comedies and reality television; I took some time off from chores and cooking and accepted help from Devin and the kids. Most of all, I talked to Devin. I shared why I felt such tremendous pain. And that was healing. 

Funny. I was going to forgo counseling for a while to save some money. Think I’ll skip the hair salon instead.

Grey hairs are better than a black soul.

I’m looking forward to a much better week. You?

Add a Tool to My Toolbox

Here’s your chance my Hooligan’s, your chance to run to another blog.  This may turn out to be long only because I don’t know exactly where it’s headed.  It’s one of my “back to the roots” posts, where I allow my mind to journal and think.  At the end, fun!  I promise.

The other day, I did something I never thought I’d ever do.  I attended an AA meeting.  Wow, just wow.  From the moment I stepped out of my car to the moment I said good-bye, I felt welcomed, loved, and a sense of belonging.  It was truly amazing.

I don’t know why I feared anything different.  We treat newcomers to S-Anon the same way, yet I was still scared to attend.  I was afraid because I’ve been drug free for so long, they wouldn’t understand why I was there, but there was no inquisition.  No one asked why I was there. They simply accepted my need to attend a meeting.

I was greeted with a bright smile and hello in the parking lot and accompanied to the door.  I was welcomed to a table and invited to sit down.  The fear of cliques dissipated as I watched people go from table to table and hug one another, men and women alike greeted each other, introduced themselves, and got older attendees their coffee.  I was surprised to feel a smile on my face in a place I had been so nervous to be not even five minutes before.

For months I have been missing something.  Something inside me is no longer able to hang on to the peace and serenity I found after I worked my fourth step.  I lost my emotional sobriety and I miss it terribly.  I long for it back.

What is emotional sobriety?  For me, it’s being able to feel my feelings.  All of them and handle them properly, without a constant feeling of discontent and unsettlement.  It’s so hard to explain once you’ve reached a place of calm and that calm feeling has left.  It’s like having an empty pit within you.

I’m not running around screaming at people but the desire to do it is there.  It has happened a time or two with Devin where I’ve made snarky comments and that’s not healthy for either one of us.

I knew it had to do with Devin’s recovery.  He has reached a plateau, according to our counselor, and without a change in his treatment plan, he is in danger of another relapse.  His behavior has become erratic as he works his fourth step and while I understand this on a rational level, it’s hard to understand as the person living with him.  He understands the need for changes and he makes them but then reverts back to old habits. 

Instead of being able to distance myself, instead of finding the compassion I’ve had in the past as a fellow addict, I became frustrated and impatient.  I am more like Veruca Salt, I wanted it NOW!  I still stayed out of his recovery, I still stayed out of his collecting and buying habit but I no longer fight fairly.  I am allowing myself to be baited instead of walking away.  I am engaging in behavior that isn’t healthy for me.

I know I cannot change him.  Only he can change himself.  This meant something needed to be done for me.  There was something I needed to do, another tool I needed to add to my toolbox but I wasn’t sure what.  Then I realized I needed to address my core issues, sure, I was sober but I’m still an addict.

An addict who never addressed her addiction with any type of counseling or any type of program.  I just quit drugs cold turkey and considered myself magically cured.  It was through the S-Anon program that I realized it doesn’t work like that, not even close bub!

I chose that particular meeting because of the time and location and it was truly a God send.  I left feeling less empty inside.  My spiritual cup had been filled.  Not my religious cup, my spiritual cup.  There is a difference.  Again, hard to explain unless you’ve sat in on a meeting.  There is so much hope, so much love, so much understanding and so much compassion.  It’s like getting a giant hug and knowing you’re not alone.  Even though you don’t quite know what’s wrong inside, you’re not alone.

I’m not sure this made sense but I wanted to share it just the same.

Now for the fun stuff I promised.  I was watching my beloved Fox News and saw a highlight of the Harlem Shake.  Take time to laugh today, my friends, I did:


The Naked Truth

photo credit:

^^^^A Journal Entry^^^^
(See, I was nice and warned you so you could click away if you're not in the mood for Elsie drama today)

There is a tale, perhaps you've heard it, about a man who is sitting upon his rooftop during a flood and the waters are rising.  A man in a dingy comes along and says, "Come on in!" and the man replies "No thanks, I'm praying and waiting on the Lord."  Next,  comes a lifeguard with a life preserver and says, "Come on, I'll help you swim out!"  Again, the man replies, "No thanks, the Lord will help me."  Finally, the waters have risen, surrounding the man, lapping at his feet and a helicopter arrives.  "Sir, please allow us to help you to safety!"  Again, his reply was the same.  "The Lord will take care of me."  Eventually, the man dies and goes to heaven.  He asks God, "Why didn't You save me?"  God replied, "I sent you a dingy, a lifeguard and a helicopter, what more did you expect?"

I am staying true to myself and to the originations of why I began blogging by journaling what I feel at the moment.  I understand it's not easy to read about someone's emotional pain and you want to reach through the screen and either slap them and say "GET OUT" or you feel obligated to comment with something comforting; I've done it myself.  For this reason, I will disable comments, to take that burden off of you.  

This is a journal entry for me and it's to let others know they aren't alone.

Eleven days ago (what? who's counting?  I guess that'd be the person who's insides are torn inside out.) I blogged about divorcing Devin.  I am a black and white person.  Everything is an absolute.  It either is or it isn't.  There is no grey area.  Until we get to him.  Grey pops and shines it's way through and it's my job to sort it through in my way to organized and rational brain.  

Am I this rational and organized in my thinking because of my own addiction to cocaine twenty years ago?  Maybe.  Or was it the death of my first husband that just screwed me up so bad?  Perhaps they both contribute.  I'm working on that now as I work on my forth step (which I worked on yesterday - ugh!).  At the rate I'm going, I'll be lucky if that fourth step is done by the end of summer!

When we went to our rockin' counselor office the other day, another lightbulb went off in his head about his shifting addiction. He finally opened up about his pain inside and lack of self worth.  Then another lightbulb when we got home and talked.  The familiar roller coaster ride of hope began.  

He opened up his "How to Sell Your Crap" on Ebay book (not official name) and set up his seller account.  He talked of the things he needs to get rid of and why.  I understand that denial takes time to lift, dissolve and the real results will be through his step work and therapy.  It doesn't happen over night.  If I decide to's more time invested, more potential frustration.  Do I want that?

Then he got sidetracked.  He went on YouTube.  The Middle Circle. I could sit here and do like he did; justify it - "I was listening to so and so play guitar", which is true, but I'm not going to do that.  I could also explain that the program is based on the core belief that it "Progress Not Perfection", I'm not ready to do that either.  Why?  It's to early.  He won't talk to me about it, he wants to talk to his sponsor first.  Which, I hate to admit this (really I do, not sure why) is what he is supposed to do.  I also know why he did it.  Stress, fear, admitting to another addiction - it ain't easy.

Instead, I explained that I had to enforce my boundary agreement, no affection and not sleeping in the same bed.  Oh, umm, yeah, we are still on track for a divorce but snuggle...cause, well we love each other.  I know.  It's crazy.

So, why the tale in beginning?  Most of you know that while I may not attend church, my belief in God is strong.  I pray - a lot.  Well, okay, I'm not dropping to my knees in prayer in the parking lot of Walmart, although maybe I should, I hate that place!  

Anyway, I can't help but wonder, what help, what signs, is God showing me?  Was it the breakthrough at our counselor's?  The Ebay selling account?  Or was it the middle circle with YouTube?

Or, am I grasping at nothing.  Just so unsure of my decision to tear apart my family.  My children from the man they adore.

My rational brain screams I can't stay for my kids.  Yet it also screams to be patient as does my heart.  The worst of his addictions is over. I have played him out to be a villain when he's done nothing but try and try and try.  And the second we clash; I want to run because it's the easiest emotionally.  Well, once I'm gone and out of the house, it's easier because then I won't see him anymore.

What if all the people I harmed during my addiction had done that to me?

I have an emergency appointment with my counselor late Monday night.  How cool is this lady?  She had zero openings and is fitting me in after 8:00 p.m.   I have very specific questions to ask her and will be placing that into the mix of my decision.

Holy crap - It's taken me two hours to write this!

As always, thank you for reading.  I hope you understand why I didn't allow comments...much love to all of you!