(x-posted to myspace, over a month ago, but i thought this would be fitting…)
it all starts innocently enough.
after months of being clean, you somehow decide a little dirt never hurt anyone. so you go to the store and get your favorite dark beer, chug it down, savoring every gluttonous gulp as it cools that fire in your throat. it tastes so good you venture out to get more when you and your well-meaning-but-not-alcoholic-boyfriend offers to pay. and then you make love, go to sleep, dream, and wake up fine, so the next day you do the same, wondering how on earth this could be wrong. this time though, you drink twice as much, and you don't remember falling asleep, only waking up after nightmares, feeling exhausted.
this scene replays itself over the next three days as you add liquor back to your repertoir. you eat, drink, sleep, nightmare, wake. somewhere in the back of your mind you know that what you're doing is wrong, but that committee that lives in your head and prods you like a devil on your shoulder won't quite let you believe it.
then it happens. a scenerio familiar to any addict who's stumbled along their way. you've whittled down your own options until you almost don't have a choice, or at least one that you're willing to recognize. it all starts with an excuse, a situation you can't cope with. you wake up in PAIN, which to you is normal, but not at this level, and your nerves, which were fried long ago and have been a hurting mess since you last got clean, have locked up and are sending shooting, stabbing pins and needles all the way from your fingertips to your shoulders. you can't move your right arm without screaming. enough of this, you say. all of a suddon you don't care what they tell you at the hospital, you just want the pain to go away. the committee in your head is screaming loud and clear along with you as you wince and cry whilst putting on your coat, grabbing your keys, and lugging your baffled boyfriend out the door with you. if he doesn't stop you, you decide that you're actions are defensible. anyone else would do the same…right?
you don't mention your addiction history to the doctor, and he doesn't bother to ask you about it before putting in a quick order with the nurse for oxycodone. when the nurse brings you your pills, you down them quickly and THEN you answer some of her questions about your history, semi-truthfully, even. you know he's back there writing you a script anyway. she shakes her head, says that some drugs will really blow your mind, and recounts a funny anecdote about one patient trying to get an imaginary rat out of his ass with a plunger whilst dusted out of his mind. you laugh and comment on how ridiculous that must have been, all the while feeling the warm tingle of the opiate bloom in your blood. whatever will work, you think. you tell yourself that you'll just stick to the prescribed dose, as if you'd ever been able to do that before, and you smile as he hands you your script and tells you to make an appointment with orthopedics as soon as possible. just the prescribed dose, you tell yourself, even as you pop two more in your mouth in the car. you take the time to note that there's no wax in the pills that would clog up a needle. your boyfriend looks concerned but supportive. he hates to see you in pain. he says his rationalization out loud. it almost sounds rehearsed.
so you take the prescribed dose, stick to it like glue, but you come unstuck every hour and repeat the prescribed dose every hour on the hour till that evening, and you're no longer in pain. but the committee is in full force. you stop to refelect on your impending dirty urine, the lecture you're going to get from your counselor, the sighs from your sponsor, the funny faces you'll get from your friends in the rooms when you pick up yet another 24-hour chip. this is premeditated, you know, but at this point, you're past caring.
you decide you're going to make it count. you're not going down for a flash in the pan, a bottle, a pill. you'll go straight to your death of choice. you nod out in your car while driving for the next two hours, and you come to in DC. you don't make eye contact with the man on the seediest, slimiest street of southeast, even though his grin burns into you with that old familiar sting. you give him money and drive away clutching a buck of devil's dandriff in your sweaty palm. and when you get home, everything you've tasted that day turns your stomach to acid and burns the back of your throat while you fingers jitter and you inhale. hold. inhale. hold. making it count. making it count. making it count…
(postscript: i was in a reflective mood when i posted this, counting my blessings, so to speak. it's been over a month since that relapse, and i guess the biggest blessing is that i'm still alive:-)