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A Disease Wrapped In Skin: Crawling Out Of My Addiction

After going to meetings, for the first few months, I would wander around aimlessly. I was walking without purpose. I would walk and walk to nowhere, for no reason. It was cool enough for a leather jacket. Sometimes, a light rain would fall. And I would walk. Sometimes with a friend, sometimes without. I reflect on this now because, almost four years later, my life is enormously different.

I’ve become a straight shooter, a caring friend, a reliable work associate, a loving partner, a trusted sponsor.

A sober woman.

The early days were shaky. I would never go back there. To feel my skin crawl with dread the way it did when I realized the mess I had made. Years of running away from reality.

I found alcohol at a young age and my drug of choice quickly became ‘what do you got?‘. The day after I had my first drink at 13, I smoked heroin. I didn’t see anything wrong with this, and that’s what was wrong with it.

I came from a place where chaos was normal, and telling other people how you felt–if you were sad or scared–made you an outcast. I had spent my life believing I was a disease, wrapped in skin, walking among people. I prayed for the day I wouldn’t wake up, starting around the age of 7. No normal 7-year-old does this.

Drinking was my escape from the burden of life.

Aside from the anxiety and the panic that set in after a night of drinking and using drugs, the feeling I remember most is the loneliness that exists in the moments before a drink or shot or line takes hold. The feeling of being completely estranged from everything around you, even yourself, even your own reflection. The discomfort that comes with such a destitute state of loneliness that you are compelled to take another drink and another shot and another line again and again until you feel nothing.

When I eventually found AA it wasn’t that I couldn’t stop drinking, it was that I had to drink. Feeling life with nothing to numb myself was too much for me. Therapists never seemed to understand that. I often asked them if their line of work was hard. Sometimes during a particularly sad tale I would tell them of the dad who never loved me, or of the men who paid me to have sex with them, a tear would roll down their cheek.

‘This must be a hard job for you,’ I would tell them.

I don’t feel estranged anymore. I know my reflection now. I care more for others, more for myself. I am not a disease. I don’t crave a drink or a drug or to hide myself, at least not today. And the journey is far from over.

If you would like to share your story of addiction and recovery, please email jenmcneely@shedoesthecity.com.

1 Comment

  1. April 2, 2016

    Thank you for sharing your story. It helps others not feel so alone. XO

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