Man, this could very well be the hardest blog post I'll ever have to write. But as I have proven in the past, I tend to not sway from balking at the details that need to be shared. Being honest and bullshit free is what I do and it has gained the respect and trust of my loved ones so I shall continue in the spirit of this revealing.
Okay, are you ready? I'm not sure that I am but here it goes anyway.
I....am an addict. I have problems controlling my substance abuse. I like to drink, I like to smoke weed and have consistently maintained this in varied degrees for the past 16 years. I am 37 years old and for the past several of those years it has become abundantly clear that I am not one of those fair weather friends to the substances of inebriation. I am close, but close is not good enough. I am what is referred to as a "functioning alcoholic and pothead". I place these terms in parenthesis because although I have managed to stay fairly consistent with my intake, I have never been one to let it lay waste to my life. Jobs and relationships have remained strongly intact and I have never found myself on skid row looking to give a blowjob in exchange for a tin of cheap beer or a puff of herb, but there have been times where it was a daily thing and I would have sacrificed what I know is well, good and healthy in exchange for medicating myself. Usually my bank account or the higher choice of hanging out with a friend or lover is what suffers. Am I contradicting myself? Yeah well, us addicts tend to find ways around the truth and will make up any old story in order to get that fix and come up smelling like roses in the process. The truth is that we usually come up smelling like daisies and most of us know that daisies kind of smell like poop.
I know that I'm not fooling anyone, least of all myself.
Now, I'm not trying to paint a horrid picture of drinking myself into a blind stupor every night or smoking myself completely stupid. Sure, I've done that on occasion and although the circumstances were probably in the name of "fun" at the time, it never felt too great afterwards. And that's okay, most of us have been there. It's not those nights of careless abandon whilst surrounded by good friends that I speak of. It is the countless nights that I have spent dumbing myself down, alone, partaking in bullshit actions that are within my known comfort zones, namely getting high or drunk while zoning out on video games, YouTube and whatever else is available to me as long as I don't have to engage in the company of others and reveal the torn up wounded heart that I have beating inside my aging chest.
I remember my first taste of alcohol. Mom and I were on a rafting trip down the Colorado river and through the Grand Canyon-lands. We were about three quarters through the trip and we'd just tackled the largest and most dangerous rapid on the river. Dinner had been served and we were setting camp and one of the guides brought out a bottle of tequila in celebration of taking down this mighty white water monster. I'm not clear on how I ended up taking a few shots or what the hell they were thinking giving hard booze to a 16 year old Canadian kid who'd never drank before, but needless to say I got shit hammered and woke up feeling like a dead cactus the next day. And needless to say the taste was on my lips and I didn't quite mind it so much. From there my intake was very very sporadic until I moved out of home. Usually I had a couple with my mom while on road trips but I'll tell ya, each and every time I rather enjoyed that heady numb-lipped feeling and every time the taste for medicating far away from my shitty life at home intensified. Like most of the members of my family I was slowly becoming an addict. Problem is that it took almost 20 years for me to really see it and want to do something about it.
Life went on and though drinking was never really an issue for me I knew I had a taste for it. The giddy feeling of heading down to the liqueur store near my first 'out of the nest' home in Vancouver for that giant can or 2 of Molson Canadian was all too familiar, but then it didn't register. Now it's so clear that it's almost ridiculous.See, my mom was an alcoholic and so was her mom and dad and I believe their mom and dad enjoyed the drink as well. Whoever says that addiction isn't hereditary has their head shoved up their ass. Hereditary doesn't necessarily mean that's it's in your blood so much as it means that you've witnessed firsthand the cycles of abuse and in some self hating and medicating way have chosen to continue that trait. Children mimic both their heros and abusers. The brain is hard-wired to soak up that shit. So I soaked up that shit as many others have.
My cycle of abuse really didn't rear it's head until I discovered marijuana. When that happened I threw that booze-can to the ground and rarely looked back for many years because I had discovered my trick. And I'll tell you what man, I wouldn't take back those first few incredible nights of getting high for anything. Herb completed me. It made me forget the bad shit and it made me embrace all that i enjoyed. It got me more interested in music and it made my first few attempts at sex pretty "fucking" enjoyable. It didn't hurt that I tried it for the first time with the safest, funniest and most trippy people on earth. I cherish those days and I truly feel that they helped me to break from my angry little hardened shell and into an exploring open heart. For a few years I enjoyed this.
I wish I'd left it at that.
I'm so not proud of the fact that for so many years and on a daily basis I dirtied my lungs with pot smoke, justifying my actions with weak arguments about my never having smoked cigarettes and that I could be smoking something even worse. Fact is that I was medicating. That dumbing down made the years of being single, being heartbroken, being bored and being lonely so much "easier" to cope with. I was officially addicted to something and I knew it, but I didn't give a crap because it "felt good". It never really felt like anything other than pure boredom and unwillingness to change because it felt good. Years later and up until the past several weeks I have been partaking almost on a daily basis, both with booze and smoke and it hasn't been until recently that I see how dire the need is for change. It is the dipping into my meager funds and giving in to the voice that suggests that just a toke will do me good that's had me worried. It is smoking even when I don't want to and can't afford to that has my attention.
Anyone who says that pot isn't addictive has their head up their ass and maybe should look at their own game. Sure, it may be easier to drop than say booze, cigarettes or heroin, but it's certainly addictive and I feel that any of my friends who have a hankering for the herb on the regular might agree to some extent.
God, it feels almost pathetic to me that I'm revealing this side of myself, that I am giving you, my two or three readers this idea that I'm a raging alcoholic and that I might need help.
I assure you that this isn't a cry for help. This is a confession and an important one at that. This is something that I've wanted to own up to for a long time now, and in ways I have recently with my closest people. Even confessing that I have substance abuse issues is a huge thing for me and recently I have admitted this to my lover who probably already knew this about me. But it helped. I have a very close friend who shall remain nameless, who has shared in their own similar issues and I thank the stars that I have this amazing friend who I identify with so much that it's crazy, and I can lean on him and feel supported. And this helps.
It's hard to admit but admitting helps.
But also it is terrifying because I am afraid to look weak. I am afraid that I am destroying the expectations and regard in which some have held me in. I am afraid that some may have never known or realized that this was an issue for me as I am very good at maintaining a poker face throughout life and even better at 'taking care of it on my own' due to my stupid independent pride and unwillingness to take any form of help from others. I am afraid that my nearest and dearest will lose respect for me and fail to believe in the well-adjusted and strong soul that I have somehow managed to build for myself, despite these somewhat hidden issues.
I know that I'm not nearly as bad as it can get, and that truly I can do this on my own. In fact I am doing this on my own and for the first time in years I feel a strength and clarity that is bolstering my resolve to get past this. It has helped. I am good and I am willing. I am strong. I have undying faith, an absolutely wonderful and supportive group of loved ones. I have a yoga and meditation practice that would never really allow for me to sink lower than a place of my stopping and observing in that something needs to give. Thank GOD for that practice because without it I think I'd be much worse off.....I certainly wouldn't be here telling you about it.
And so, in the spirit of sharing and revealing I feel it important to tell you that in the past couple of years I have felt fear. I have felt desperation. I have felt lost and I have felt completely alone.
I am 37 years old and this little kid who was lost so many years ago is screaming for some acknowledgement and healing. I am 37 years old and the need for massive change is long overdue. I am 37 years old, I have a story to tell and I refuse to be afraid to tell it.