I’d never spoken of the secret I had while in rehabilitation. It was safer to repress and keep locked up in my head.
To me it wasn’t just a secret, but a cunning whisper in my ear. I’d hear it while I lay in my bed sweating, writhing, and tossing in withdrawal. I’d hear it while I drove around trying to come up with a way to score. I would hear it while I sat in AA, it would whisper all the while every voice in class sounded muted and distorted. It would say, “You’re happy to die this way. You’ll be happier to let it kill you…at least then you’ll go numb.”
My secret. My whisper. The ones who loved me thought I was taking steps to get better. They didn’t know that I was unequivocally, undeniably ready to relinquish my power to it and let it kill me. This “demon” had convinced me that my life wasn’t worth saving. I unintentionally fooled that tormenting whisper. I tricked death. There was a loophole that I didn’t know would save me.
I remember the way the carpet burned my face as I feel into it on that December fifth afternoon. I remember only being able to hear my own heartbeat and my mom’s pleading voice, calling for help. I remember her rocking me in her arms, crying…asking me why. But I couldn’t tell her my secret.
The nurse at the hospital said, “What the hell is wrong with you? You’re pregnant and we should be able to hear the heartbeat but we can’t. Are you going to be selfish and let your addiction kill you and now possibly your baby?” I sat in the hospital bed quietly. I was angry at her but angrier at myself because she was right. Before she left the room as I was being discharged she turned around and said “You’re gonna be a good mom.” I never saw her again.
I left my hometown that night. My addiction was furious. I was escaping it. But all I could feel in the moment was my skin crawling and beads of sweat rolling down my skin. I lay in a bed for the next month fully expecting to miscarry this baby that had seemingly, no heartbeat. I hated myself.
We went to the doctor. The technician put the gel on my stomach. I was so scared to see nothing on the monitor screen. She pushed the probe down hard and jumped back. She exclaimed “Oh my God! Did you know there are two babies in there?!”
I won that day.
Two nights later, 3am I woke up to find blood in our bed. I cried all the way to the hospital, I cried angrily into my jacket. I cried like I was fighting someone and oh I was, the “demon”…the addiction. The doctor did another ultrasound. Two little jumping beans still alive. I had a sub chorionic hematoma around them. But they were alive.
I won that day.
Every night after the bleed I had a recurring dream…at first a nightmare. I was alone. Standing in an open field. Snow blanketed everything around me. I walked out of the tree line and stood in the field. Alone. Vulnerable. Silence all around me. When the dreams started, I remember the intimidation standing in that open plane. As the dream came back to haunt me, one night it changed. I was standing in the field…silent again. I heard the whisper. Starting to breathe heavily, my chest swaying. Finally I bellowed “YOU CANT TAKE ME.” “IM NOT AFRAID OF YOU ANYMORE YOU SONOFABITCH.” “Fight me! Fight me! You’re going to lose again!” Suddenly the whispers stopped. The girl in the field wasn’t afraid anymore. She fell to her knees and cried, exhausted. Whoever or whatever had clung to her…to me like cancer was gone.
I won that day.
21 weeks of bedrest. Preterm labor. Doctors appointments two hours away from our town once a week. They said “We need to get these boys out now.” But it was too early. There wasn’t a choice though. As I lay on the operating table. Quiet tears came. The anesthesiologist wiped them away for me and said, “Why are you crying honey?” my voice cracked, “What if they don’t cry? What if they’re limp?”
It felt like only moments later. The Doctors talking to each other, then nothing. The cries of a tiny baby boy filled the room. A few seconds later another cry. Our sons were born that day…but so was I.
And we won.
Addiction is like the unrestrainable control don’t have when you’re riding a roller coaster. You’re strapped in tight, because once you’ve made that decision…there is no turning back. You start to go up and up and up. The realization that something big is coming is eminent. There is nothing you can do to get away. The last few clicks before the top. Take one more breath…boom. It’s over. Dropped like a bad habit…pun intended. No one can stop it mid-ride. You just keep holding on, praying it’ll be over soon. When or if the never-ending ride is over and you’re alive, you don’t remember how to do basic human functioning. Because all you know now is how to get on, strap in and hold your breath for the come down.
I don’t know how to tell you. The people who lose their lives to addiction. To this disease…it’s not that they weren’t strong enough. It’s not that their loved ones didn’t try hard enough. They did, they do. The families die inside too. You lose someone you hold dearly to this wretched disease, you might as well be buried next to them. It’s not your fault. You did absolutely everything you could humanly do. It wasn’t in your hands. It’s just that…let me put it this way. You don’t have to believe in Heaven or Hell. You don’t have to believe in Jesus or Satan. If you believe in something bigger than yourself then hear me out. It didn’t have to be The Devil who’s whispers I heard, but it was something bigger than I. It was something more powerful than I could control. When an addicted persons every moment is consumed by this voice…unless you’ve been in this position. I can’t put into words what it’s like to feel that completely out of control. Sometimes that voice is just too loud and we can’t find the metaphorical “light at the end of the tunnel”. I almost didn’t. I was waving the white flag like, “take me now.” Had it not been for the literal lives inside of me. This story wouldn’t exist because I wouldn’t be around to write it.
Perhaps there isn’t an easy answer to this. Maybe there is no set answer at all. In my belief the “cure” can come in any form. When we find something within ourselves that is larger and more ferocious than the terrifying strength of ANY addiction and we use that ball of hope, faith, self worth…kick-your-ass-for-trying-to-take-me-down-ness then we can go to battle with this monster. If you come at it empty handed than prepare to have it wreck your world.
When your addiction has called you to a breaking point…an open field in the snow, so to speak, when would be a better time to fight for it? Fight for yourself? I’m here today because I looked out into the nothingness; I screamed…I called out my story. I am not prepared yet to share my story. So for this blog I’ll just say I howled, “#MeToo….”