DOB: 11/8/65. My eating was out of control. I had stopped drinking. I justified my eating with the fact that I wasn’t drinking any more. I thought that this is great, I am not using drugs,
I’m not drinking, but I am a bulimic, and so therefore I can’t help what I do. Calling myself a bulimic was not an admittance to being powerless or anything. It was an excuse, because as long as I gave myself the excuse that I have this problem, I didn’t put any energy forth to stop doing it.
My Dad was in the military. We moved around a lot for the first eight years of my life, eight and a half years. My life seems to be real segmented. There wasn’t any kind of consistency in my growing up. My Dad was away a lot. My parents had a really unhappy marriage. It just . . . I don’t have any good memories of their marriage. I have a few.
It was . . . growing up was really difficult because when my father was around everything was regimented and everything was done just right. There were a lot of house rules. Everything was really structured when my father was home. When he was away, especially when he was away in Vietnam, things were real haywire.
My Mom, she didn’t have control over anything, over the bills, she didn’t have control over the kids. Things were a lot more lenient and there wasn’t any structure, except for the fact that Mom took care of us. She took minimum care of us. We were dressed and fed and went to school. It was completely different. We lived two different lives with Dad and without Dad.
I guess everything came to a head when we moved to Alexandria. The marriage was really falling apart at that point. I guess where I was in all of this was I started making, I started creating my own world when I was really young.
I guess it was because I couldn’t deal with what was going on. I just didn’t choose to. I was a loner. I fantasized a lot. I always had something going on for myself in my head that had nothing to do with what was really going on, and for me when I was young it was a kind of a freedom.
As I got older I started getting towards the point where I was supposed to get ready to start to go out on my own. It became a trap, especially when I finally did go out on my own. My world was not, it wasn’t parallel to the real world. It had nothing to do with the real, and I started paying the price for it. I still want very much to live out what I felt was destined for me and that was to continue to be a loner, to be a student in life, is what I thought it was.
I hung out with older people. I didn’t feel comfortable with anybody my age or younger. Actually I felt threatened by people, especially by people that were younger than I was, and so I hung out with an older crowd. I guess really when I started acting out, you know, destructively, was in high school.
I started running away from home a lot. And then I found out that I couldn’t make it in the real world real quickly. What I wanted for myself just didn’t work when I was out alone trying to fend for myself. I was just too sheltered and too unaware of how to take care of myself.
I started my first form of using was smoking pot and drinking. I mean it was what everyone else was doing. But the thing that worked for me, what I thought that worked the best for me, was with food, and I found a hidden pleasure. It was really a private pleasure in purging my food. The eating at first was done in front of everyone, and the purging was just a special secret for me. And it was a game at first, and it got really hellish.
I don’t know how to really know, how to sum everything up. I guess my bottom started when I moved out of my parents’ house. I was constantly in and out of trouble, constantly in and out of crisis with money. I couldn’t pay the rent. I’d got kicked out of here. I’d have to go back home.
I’d shift from place to place. Jobs, I couldn’t hold down a job. I had no confidence in myself but I felt that I could justify everything that was going on. I felt that . . . I just worried that there was just really nothing that wrong.
So I was back and forth from home. I tried living with my mother in Florida a couple of times, because my parents are divorced and my mother is in Florida. I decided when I couldn’t get it together in Virginia I lived with a couple of boy friends and they were real short term, I mean they were people that I didn’t even know.
They met me when I was in the middle of all kinds of crap going on, and they would take me in, and the first time I guess I stayed with them for about a month and it was horrible. I mean we were both drinking, I was a mess, my life really was a mess. I ended up having to call my Dad and get bailed out again.
And I guess I decided from that point . . . I did all kinds of things. I lived all kinds of places. I don’t remember where. So many places, it would take me forever to remember, to figure it all out. I ended up living with another boy friend. It was real sudden. I moved in with him. It was supposed to be only temporary.
I ended up staying there about a month and a half, and as usual, any time I was given help I just . . . you give me an inch, I took forty miles. I took advantage of anything I could. At any given time, I was always taking advantage of things. People were always trying to help me. Other people always seemed to think that I had so much potential, that if I just had the right help that I could really get it together.
And people were always pitying me because they always felt that my father was wrong for continuing to turn me out of the house. They always felt so sorry for me. And so he always had people help me. I always knew the right things to say, knew the right way to look.
And there always were people taking me in. And then finally I decided that I really wanted to make a go of taking care of myself. And I had managed to save up a whole lot of money, even more money than I had saved up before just waitressing and renting a room in a house.
And things in my life started to settle down for the first time. I guess I was afraid of getting caught in a spot in life. I was afraid of getting into a rut. I was only waitressing. I was my life seemed to just get really small when I settled down. It didn’t seem to shrink. I wasn’t out running wild and my world just seemed to shrink. It got really small. It was work and putting all of my pay checks into the bank. And the people I knew at work and the people I knew where I lived was getting narrowed down into something that I didn’t like: it was boring.
So I took the money that I had saved and I was going to . . . I had been planning on buying a car. And it just seemed all of a sudden that buying a car was going to tie me down even more and I was going to add another responsibility. It just seemed that it was going to pin me down that much more. And so I told everyone that I was going to take off to California. I was going to try it out in San Diego. And no one in my family believed me. And I was determined to do it.
And up until the night before — I moved out of the place that I lived, I quit my job, I moved home temporarily — and up until the night before I was supposed to leave I had plans to go. And then I decided at the last minute I didn’t want to go. And I moved out to Baltimore. And I lived with a friend of mine who was . . . it was a really weird situation.
She was taking care of a family, sort of an au pair I guess.
I lived out there and I felt completely out of place. I had never lived in a different state. Everywhere I had chosen to live, it had always been real close by to one of my parents. It wasn’t that far away. I wasn’t in running distance, like I didn’t run home. The place where I was didn’t have any jobs, and I was getting caught in a rut again.
And I decided . . . I had always had this dream of running away from things, really picking up, packing a little bag and running away. And so I packed a backpack and I took some real basic clothes and I hitch-hiked to Florida. And it was like always what I had always wanted to do something like this. It wasn’t as exciting as I wanted it to be, but it was kind of the way I wanted to picture it.
I had . . . I did the truckers’ route. I went from trucker to trucker, and it only took a few days, and I hit some rough spots, but I had my late nights in the cafes, the little diners with the greasy coffee. And I thought that this was really neat because this was how I had always pictured it.
But I met some rough men and had a few incidents and a few times of giving in to people, because I wanted to get to where I was going and I didn’t feel that I had the right to . . . I didn’t feel that I had the right to get a free ride, and that’s how really screwed up my thinking was.
When I got to Florida, I was close by to my mother again. And I stayed with some friends of mine from high school, and I free-loaded for a while, for a long time, and decided again that I had to take care of myself. There was something I had to do, I just, I couldn’t live off people any more. It was just such a humiliating thing. I would do it and I wouldn’t think anything of it, but it was humiliating.
It was just easy, and so I rented. I took one of my last pay checks from a job that I was fired from, and I rented a motel room, and I had two weeks rent in, and I had that time to look for a job so I could continue to stay there. But during all this I had a lot of abstinence time. But the running and not facing things was there. It was crazy, and when I stayed in this hotel I put myself into a position where I didn’t have a choice but to do the next right thing for myself.
I looked in the papers every day for work, and I finally found something I could start right away. It was a labor job where they paid you the same day. I went out to this, I rode my bike forty miles. It seemed it wasn’t that far — I rode my bike all the way out to this place, and I would do this hard labor every day, real dirt work for dirt money. And I just felt really good about myself because I had never done hard work before, and I never felt that like I had made a sacrifice for myself before.
I was doing this, and my eating was beginning to act up and there was all kinds of things going on. I was starting to drink with the crew a lot after work, and my attitude was falling apart. Gung ho, I’ll take care of myself attitude was just really crumbling. The more it crumbled the more I drank. The more I drank the worse it got. It’s just a real cliche. My drinking and my eating seemed to go hand in hand. They seemed to be linked.
I drank to relax. I drank to fit in, to forget about how I felt about myself for real, because when I wasn’t in a state of either intoxication or complete exhaustion from my eating to where I couldn’t even think about anything except how desperately exhausted I’d felt and afraid. I was always afraid when I got to the point where I . . . where it took that much out of myself, but that I was going to die that way.
If I wasn’t drunk or exhausted I was faced with myself and I didn’t like it. I couldn’t stand it. I could never stop thinking about things. I never stopped obsessing about how self-conscious I was. I was afraid to talk to people because I was afraid of the things that I had been saying. I was afraid of going to work. I was just afraid to be with people. For some reason the drinking and the being worn out all the time, just exhausted from everything, from work, just everything seemed to take me real far away from myself. That kind of life that I led.
But as I got more and more disorganized and disoriented, I had lost faith in taking care of myself completely. And my mother had to take me in and let me live with her. And it was a real mess, because her marriage, she was living with a chronic alcoholic and she’s got problems of her own. And my problems just compounded their problems. And so I was glad to get a job. I was glad to save up money and move out. And I got my own apartment for the first time.
For the first month it was okay. It was really lonely. I had this job working with fiberglass and laminating things with it and working with this resin, and just this gross job. And I was always just covered with fiberglass. It was a messy job, and I didn’t like it.
I didn’t like where I lived, I didn’t like living alone, I didn’t like not having a boy friend. I didn’t like the fact that being responsible separated me from my friends, because they were out there doing the same things that I used to do. I was just really lonely. I felt so set apart from everyone. Taking care of myself was a real lonely chore.
So I started dating someone, and I guess I managed to choose someone that needed someone else in their life as badly as I did, and so it was a sick relationship. There were a lot of drugs, I did a lot more, I used a lot more during this time than I had at any other time. There was just constant I didn’t like it at this point. At this point it wasn’t fun any more. It was kind of a sickening type of thing.
On one hand I was . . . I had a huge group of friends because the person that I dated had a lot of friends, had a lot of connections. It all had to do with using, and there was nothing real about it, and yet it gave me a sense of belonging, a sense of being a part of something that I wanted. So I sacrificed my health, and I sacrificed any desire to stop using drugs, to be a part of this group.
I was really fighting myself, because at that point I could see that I wasn’t getting anywhere. The drugs were just making things worse. I knew it. I had a battle. I never felt that I couldn’t stop using, but I was never able to put it down either, for all kinds of different reasons or excuses. I couldn’t stop.
I finally was really neglecting myself. I was neglecting my responsibilities at my apartment. It was a mess all the time. I never had any money. I was starting to run out of money to put together for bills. And during the holidays I was getting money from my family, and I used whatever I could that I was given from my mother, from my family back in Virginia, to put together for rent. And I was paying rent just on sheer luck.
And I lasted in that place for three months. Then I just hated everything so much that as usual I wanted to jump out of it and run away again. And so I started hiding from my boy friend. I started staying in another part of town with an old friend of mine, and I cut off that relationship. I also cut off being able to live in that apartment because I just stopped paying rent, and I just left my things there. I never really lived there any more for the last month.
When I finally moved out I ended up with the same people I started with when I got there that were living in another apartment. I free loaded again. I went from job to job. I never used the money that I made to give them anything. I used it all on myself, either drinking or food or I don’t even remember what I spent my money on. I just never had any, never. And I made money. It wasn’t very much, but I had money, and I never had any in my pocket.
I couldn’t stand it any more. I couldn’t stand being like that. I couldn’t stand living some place where no one really wanted me there because I was free loading, because I was a free loader. They wouldn’t tell me to leave, and knew that it was up to me to get myself out of it. I didn’t know how. My mother was not a resource any more. My cousin wasn’t, my family just wasn’t able to help me any more. And so I called up another friend in Baltimore.
I asked him to please, come down and get me. Send for me, send me money, just get me out of here. He called my mother and she threw some of my things together that were there and she came out and got all my things. And she threw it all in boxes and put me on a Greyhound bus and rode up with a friend of mine that moved around with me a lot, And moved back up to Baltimore together. And I stayed with this guy for about a month and promised to get work, promised to go to therapy for my eating.
I promised a lot of things that I never went through with. I just never left the apartment. I never looked for a job. My eating was out of control. I had stopped drinking. I justified my eating with the fact that I wasn’t drinking any more.
I thought that this is great, I am not using drugs, I’m not drinking, but I am a bulimic, and so therefore I can’t help what I do. Calling myself a bulimic was not an admittance to being powerless or anything. It was an excuse, because as long as I gave myself the excuse that I have this problem, I didn’t put any energy forth to stop doing it.
Of course I ran this guy right out of life almost. He just wanted me out of his life. He wanted me out of that place. Everything got really out of hand and another family member had to take me in. And I stayed with her for about two months. And she helped me get a job, and she gave me some clothes for work, and fed me and let me stay there for free as long as I saved up money to move out.
About this time I met back up with her ex-boy friend, who had been someone that I had always been able to relate to because he was . . . he had serious life problems too. And he told me that he was in this program.
And the first thing that I noticed about him was that just the way he held himself, the way he spoke, the way he looked — he looked clean, he smelt good. I can’t even describe how he looked different. He looked vital, he looked healthy, he looked really good. I thought that this I don’t understand. I can’t believe it. What, I asked him, what did you do? How did you get this way? Why are you so different?
And then he told me about recovery. And I thought, oh God! It wasn’t very appealing because I heard a lot about different types of recovery programs, and I had never taken any of it seriously. I liked what I saw in Tom so much, I’d give it a try. And so I went to a meeting. I felt at home. I don’t know what attracted me but I kept coming back.
I guess what really kept me going back at first was these people were really friendly. The first night that I went there they opened their arms to me, they didn’t exclude me, because I didn’t already know them or I didn’t already know somebody there. They were just really open and full of all kinds of suggestions, and gave me all their phone numbers, and I just felt like I had a lot of new friends again.
That’s really what I wanted.
I wanted to belong somewhere. I wanted to feel like when I talked that I wasn’t sounding like I didn’t make sense, that I wasn’t sounding weird and crazy. And it just didn’t seem to matter what I said. It was real hard at first to talk, because I was still stuck with that fear that I was going to seem crazy, and that these people were going to be disgusted with me.
But I started hearing similar things from other people. I just started hearing things that sounded real familiar. And for a while it was going really, well, and I decided that I don’t even know what I decided. My views on things started to change. I guess I was still at a pretty vulnerable spot with myself, even though there were a lot of good things happening. I moved into a house with recovering people. I had a lot of friends. I had someone that I could always call.
I started dating someone and got wrapped up into him, and all of a sudden my life was centered around one other person. And I didn’t even realize how I was forgetting everything else. I didn’t see how everything else in my life was falling apart again because I was obsessed with another person. I just didn’t see anything else. I did a lot of crazy things. I did a lot of crazy things using and I’ve done a lot of crazy things clean.
I don’t have a lot of time in recovery. I don’t feel very stable. I’m not able to talk about much else besides the pretty screwed up things that I’ve done, because I haven’t really changed that much. I haven’t really come that far away from that kind of behavior.
I haven’t had enough time between myself and my old ways. I still have urges to use. I’ve had a recent relapse. It took a lot out of me. It put me . . . it set me back a lot in my recovery. It gave me a lot of doubts about the good things that I’ve had, made me focus more on I guess the negative.
My decision, I guess I should talk about my decision to go back out and use drugs, deemed like a spur of the moment thing. It seemed just like something that I wanted to do all of a sudden. But there was a lot of poor decision making going on between the time that I had three months clean under my belt and the day that I decided to use.
I mean my first three months gave me something that I don’t think I really ever had before. I was beginning to feel okay without the companionship of another person, of a boy friend or a best buddy. I just didn’t have to have that one other person in my life to go on.
I was just beginning to get that feeling that it was okay, that feeling that it was okay to lead a simple life. To get up in the morning, to go to work, to come home in the afternoon, to spend a little time with roommates, a little time with friends, a little time on the phone. Then to go to a meeting, and then just to go back home, and go to bed.
I was just beginning to feel that there wasn’t a lot wrong with that, that eliminating a lot of complications in my life was beginning to become more soothing than boring. And I was starting to enjoy it. It was a real personal feeling. It wasn’t anything that anyone was helping me to feel. It was something within me. It wasn’t something that I wanted from someone else. It was just something that was happening to me.
There was some who I didn’t know very well who popped into the scene who did what I wanted to do, to date, who wanted to do a lot of things that were familiar to me that were . . . it was like taking a step backwards and I knew it. Because what I had, just at the end of three months, was, like I was going forward and that I knew by being with this person is going to be a step backward. It was going to be a step closer to where I used to be.
But I did it. It took them a while to convince me that I wanted to be with him, because at first I had just enough strength to know what I wanted and what I didn’t want. And I didn’t want to be with someone else. I was just beginning to get satisfied with being by myself. I wasn’t by myself. For one, I had all kinds of friends. I was beginning to believe in a Higher Power, praying was daily, even though it wasn’t always easy to do it. It was something that I did every day for some reason.
But I dated this person and I obsessed and I forgot the other people in my life. And I forgot the good feelings that I had and I got further and further back into the way that I used to be. It was a hazardous relationship. There wasn’t a lot of time for anything else except for this one other person and the rest of my life fell apart again. It was a two way thing.
It was happening to both of us and we had to stop seeing each other. And when I was forced to be alone again and I didn’t have what I had a month ago, I didn’t have all these friends any more, because I didn’t choose to keep them in my life.
I really was alone and I lost all sense of a Higher Power and of a God in my life. Even though I continued to pray. I just didn’t pray with a lot of faith — I prayed out of desperation. I prayed when I was lonely. I prayed when I was angry. I prayed for this relationship to work. I forgot about everything else. I had thrown everything else out the window. And when I was alone again I was stuck with myself. I was stuck without any kind of foundation. I really was alone. I really felt that I was alone.
I think my relapse was a way of escaping the space that I have between myself and the friends that I have made into . . . I felt that it would tie me to something that was familiar, because I wasn’t familiar with being clean and being lonely. I wasn’t familiar with not being able to use all my little devices to get away from things, drugs and my eating. I wasn’t used to not having that and being alone and scared and having a really messed up life.
I ran back to it because it was the only way that I knew how to be. It was like the icing on the cake. How can you have a screwed up life without having your toys and having your escape mechanisms, the ones that you knew the best? Coming back was the hardest things going back out was a snap decision. Coming back was really scary.
I felt like a liar. I felt like I cheated a lot of people. I felt like nobody trusted me any more. I really didn’t trust myself. I didn’t really trust anything that came out of my mouth when I shared. And I sure didn’t want to sit around and talk about recovery when I was fresh from being back out. I wasn’t clean any more. I didn’t . . . even though I was like abstaining again, I didn’t feel clean. I didn’t feel that I had the right to say anything about recovery.
I stayed away from my meetings for a long time. I stayed away from my old friends that I made in recovery. I spread myself really thin. I was desperate. I didn’t know what I wanted. I began to think that I didn’t want recovery. And All it took was to go back into an old meeting and to share honestly about how I felt, what new things were going on in my life, and I started to feel like I still had something.
I still have what I got in the first three months. It wasn’t a lot, but it was enough to carry over, it was enough to bring me back into recovery, it was enough to get me humble. Enough to come back to the people that I had started something with. I made a lot of ties with people. I went on a convention. Had I not made all these friends? I really worked hard on myself for three months. I really opened up. I really didn’t think that I had anything to lose. If I hadn’t done all that, I wouldn’t have come back.
Just realizing that I still have something, I have learned something, I even learned something being back out and running away from the people that I knew the best, I learned. I was learning out there, I was changing somehow, I guess I was watching myself.
But being back is different. Time seems to go slower. But I did manage to get back into a recovery house just about right away. It only took me a week and a half to get back into one. I was back into a house, and I never didn’t have a friend. I had . . . the entire time that I was out and running and scared and not wanting to go back, I had a friend that was clean and in recovery and that cared, I guess, who just kind of bridged me in recovery.
There was a little tie there the whole time. I never really let go. I held onto something which was one other person, and it’s really all it took. One other clean person that cared and I got back.
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