Someone I Love Dearly (SILD) is a heroin addict who has recently entered treatment for the first time. Two driving motivations are SILD’s fear of overdose, and SILD’s observation that “If I OD no one will do anything; no one help me.” Because, you see, addicts hang with addicts and addicts aren’t the best choice for friends. I haven’t the strength to ask what experiences inform SILD’s point of view.
So how many old heroin addicts are there? In our particular rehab center there are old alcoholics but no old addicts. Coincidence or reality? I don’t have the stomach to ask. How long has SILD got to get clean or get swept away?
There are lots of statistics about heroin rehab on the internet and they all suck. 97% of all addicts will relapse if they try to quit on their own. 90% of those in rehab programs will relapse. For many the rehab-relapse cycle continues for decades. I can’t handle decades. Can I handle decades?
When I attended my first couple of meetings for the friends and family of addicts, I thought I would dissolve with fear and dread, hearing about all the cycles of getting clean and going out, getting clean and going out. That’s treatment slang for relapse. Going out of the program: using, lying, crashing, burning.
The thinking is that the addict has to hit some kind of profound low, has to scrape a horrific bottom, in order to muster the will to stop using. Compared to the other stories I’m hearing, SILD hasn’t hit bottom. I don’t think I have the fortitude to witness any further descent.
I already get it: these kinds of thoughts are so debilitating, there is no hope where such thoughts live. Thus the instruction to focus on the moment and concentrate on one day at a time. Easier said than…
Someone I Love Dearly (SILD) is a heroin addict who has recently entered treatment for the first time, and this has thrust me into a parallel universe where we all have new identities, distortions of our familiar ones. In this new world, I am a codependent. That means I have gotten so entangled in SILD’s life – futilely trying to fix and re-route and protect, entombing myself in worry and anxiety – that I am in danger of losing my own identity, not to mention niceties like the ability to feel happy. Or successful. Or loved.
So far, I have not been much of an enabler, except to help muster excuses for irresponsibilities. But I can see how enabling is unavoidable once one codepends. Enablers smooth and correct problems, helping addicts avoid consequences of addiction-driven choices and actions. Enabler reports her credit card stolen, then calls off the police when she finds out who – Addict – has been using it. Enabler apologizes and concocts excuses when Addict misses yet another loved one’s birthday party. Enabler notices that Addict forgot to do laundry and handles the chore while Addict sleeps in, probably ignoring the reality that Addict is passed out, not resting, after being too high to care about clean clothes.
It turns out that self-rescue is the only option. Some codependents change because they have become so angry and resentful that they feel no more love for their addicts. I can see getting to that point. Most of the rest of us start the change process because – what else? – we hear that it will help our addicts. But I am determined to stop and to change.
I want my life back, or a new improved version. The catalyst, for me, came with observation of break time at the rehab center. At breaks the alcoholics and other addicts are vivid: talking and laughing – energized and enjoying life despite it all. The families are muted: somber, sad, round-shouldered, resigned. Not a mold I want to fit.
Someone I Love Dearly (SILD) is a heroin addict, newly revealed. Over the last few years, I have been ever more sucked into the addiction behaviors without knowing them as such. In many ways it is an enormous relief to have it all out in the open and to be going through this now – the rehab, the meetings, so many hidden cards on the table. Turns out that the kind of lies I have faced and the kinds of mental backflips and self-doubts I have entertained to accommodate the lies are akin to abuse. It was getting to the point that I was so uncertain about everything that I couldn’t bring myself to ask for help in a store.
But the last thing I want is to swoon with hand to forehead. The role of victim is such an unpleasant one.
It staggers me. The truth was slapping me upside the head for so long, yet I didn’t see it. I knew something was wrong. I knew it deeply enough to distress my sleep and trash my ability to meet the day head-on. But I was completely clueless about what and how bad.
I didn’t think I was capable of that kind of denial. I am someone who so values honesty and who so regularly spotlights any emperor sans clothes. In this case, I could see the figures under the ice, gesturing and shouting; yet it never occurred to me to get a pick and smash a hole so I could hear what they were screaming.
When SILD admitted the heroin, my first reaction was “Oh no oh please no.” My second reaction was “No wonder.” After all these years, eagerly awaiting messages from my subconscious, I wouldn’t have thought I could so successfully block its transmissions for so long.
A bit more than a month ago, life shifted, irrevocably. (Four weeks two days 1 hour 25 minutes – I expect I’ll remember the details forever, my personal version of I remember when I heard Kennedy /MLK /Kennedy /Lennon was shot. All the images I can conjure are from horror movies. Ground splits and previous paths disintegrate. Steep fall from a suddenly looming cliff, to land on a road with treacherous forks every few steps, each new path quickly vanishing into darkness and fog. You get the idea.)
A bit more than a month ago, I learned that Someone I Love Dearly (SILD) is addicted to heroin. Actually that isn’t quite right. It’s not a situation. SILD is a heroin addict. It’s a part of SILD’s being. And it turns out that I am a codependent.
When I sit down to blog, I got nothin’ to say. Not surprising. When I launched my blog a few months ago I had no idea where it would lead but my blogging tendencies have proved playful and lighthearted. My current thoughts are anything but. I expect that at some point the light stuff will again rise to the top. Maybe. Meanwhile I’ve got plenty I need to say, and I’ve decided to say it here. For those who want to skip the gory parts, I will make sure it is obvious when I am writing a SILD-related blog.