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Harvester of Sorrow - Part 2 of 2
I used to call my parents and basically abuse them, for no good reason
over the next couple of years. I was full of self-loathing and hatred and
focussed part of this on them. How it must have hurt them.
During that time period, I also appeared in court on 3 occasions for incidents that occurred while under the influence of booze and pills. I hardly remember any of the incidents. I was a regular black-out drinker. Many mornings I would wake up not remembering the night (or day) before.
At age eighteen I returned to that small town (my habits had made me homeless) and spent the next year or so doing very stupid things. My father got me a job. I was also smoking a great deal of marijuana at the time. I became unreliable and a danger in the workplace.
I then went off wandering again, taking seasonal work where I could. I moved from town to town, always thinking it would be different in the next one....always thinking the people would be different. It was I who had to change. It reminds me of the ancient verse:
"They change their skies, but not their souls
Those who travel over the seas"
To everyone I came into contact with, and whoever cared about me I caused pain. I stole from friends, I owed shopkeepers money, I vandalised and cut people in two with my acid tongue.
Very shortly after I turned 21, I was admitted to a psychiatric hospital. Guess who drove a hundred miles to pick me up from the "normal" hospital, and then another couple of hundred to the institution? My Father. My parents still hadn't given up on me.
While my parents have never shunned me, they did relay their displeasure in my behaviour many times. They did not run after me for everything, (which I am glad they didn't - in so many cases family members "prop" up an addict all the way to the grave), but they were always there when there was an opportunity to get me back on track.
I was diagnosed at that institution as suffering from depression. I would spend approximately 9 months in that place, broken up into 3 "tours of duty" and a suicide attempt. Imagine how my family must have felt, their son in a psychiatric ward, now being drugged to the eyeballs with "medication" - which I also became addicted to. That was in 1990/91 and addiction was still greatly misunderstood by the medical profession in Australia.
I now had a socially acceptable "label" - a depressive. And, boy!, did I ever use that to my advantage. I could now blame all my problems on my childhood and a "chemical imbalance". I became a professional patient. My hospitalizations, psychiatrists and doctors visits over the years cost the community many tens of thousands of dollars.
I did have a "chemical imbalance" - it was called addiction. Nothing special, I was just a common, garden variety gutter drunk. It would be another 3 years before I finally came to terms with that. During that time before realization, I would continue my decline and hurt many others. The last incident would see me leave my de facto and two stepchildren, clear out the bank accounts and go on a massive binge. It was the last one.....more on that another time.
My next stop was a detox unit after 5 days in a normal hospital. It was the best thing I ever did. They educated me and the full force of my behavior came crashing in on me after about a week there.
Once you have been through a good detox program, you have knowledge. With that knowledge, comes responsibility. There are no more excuses, you have hit the end of the line. I know it sounds harsh, but if you continue with your addiction after a detox/rehab program, then you deserve whatever happens to you next - but the people around you don't. I had one brief "bust" about 4 years ago. It lasted less than 24 hours and put me into hospital for 5 days. I was sick for weeks. Better than that, it scared the hell out of me. Any doubt that was left in my mind as to being an addict was wiped out. I was lucky on that occasion, if there is a "next time" I don't think I will be so fortunate.
If you are someone who has been through detox and you are still practising, think about my last statement. I am deadly serious. Remember, it is never too late to try again. The next time you pick up a drink or drug, it may not only end your life, but maybe someone elses...someone you love.
My story is not special or unique, it has been repeated over the years many millions of times in all the countries on our planet.
A practising addict is like a tornado. It's very hard to predict the damage that will be caused, where and when it will happen and the path they will take. But the damage will happen....read any newspaper, listen to any news broadcast and you will hear of it. Theft, murder, embezzlement, infidelity. If you investigate these stories you will find that major cause of most of them is addiction. The worst of the damage occurs to those closest to the addict.
The long term damage to people around the addict is immense, and will be the subject of another article.
To all those who I hurt over the years, who I haven't yet been able to apologize to.... I am sincerely sorry, there is nothing I can do to take away the pain I caused you. I have been living my life now over the last years the best way I can, trying to hurt no-one and keeping away from the things that caused me to be that way. And that is the best way I can show remorse. My life is peaceful now in comparison, and I wish peace to all of you.
If you can see some of yourself reflected in my story, be it the family member or the addict....there is help out there - pick up the phone and contact groups like AA, NA and AlAnon.
AA and NA is comprised of addicts - recovered and recovering. They are people who not only understand addiction, they have lived it. They will teach you how to live a normal existence again. Giving up the substance is only the first step. You have learnt over the years a number of defense mechanisms that are manipulative and immature. Not because you are a bad person, but we learn these strategies to cover up and continue to feed our addictions.
AlAnon is for the families of addicts, they can show you how to cope with the addict and how to recognise the damage that has been inflicted on you. It runs deeper than you may think. The years that you have had to tolerate the fear, insecurity and control take their toll. If you have been living in that situation for a long time, it may even feel "normal". I assure you it is not.
With the knowledge that groups such as AlAnon can give you, you can repair your life. They are made up of people who have experienced similar things.
-You don't have to live in fear of what tomorrow brings,
-You have a right to love and be loved
-You have a right to be treated with respect
-Domestic violence has no excuse
-You are NOT a bad person who deserves to be treated in this way
The call could change your life...if you let it.
Copyright information.... This article is free for reproduction but must be reproduced in its entirety along with the authors' name and web site link. This copyright statement must be also be included. (c) 2001 - 2007 Michael Bloch, World Wide Addiction.com,. All rights reserved.
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