I spent a long time avoiding pain.
Escape WAS my medicine.
This is what my 11 years on Rx drugs were about: numbing out, tuning out, zoning out – anything but zooming in and looking right at the source.
Yes, they were prescribed to me by a doctor. No, I didn’t have to go out of my way for them. But should I have been on 14 of them at once — in my teens and early twenties? At 100 lbs?!
Pain, both emotional and physical, haunted me like a dark, looming, imminent cloud over everything. I masked it with more doctors visits, more pills and more prescriptions. It was legal, easy and I was even convinced that these pills might help me.
Plus, if I stopped, I might feel the pain.
It’s a therapeutic process in more ways than one. Not only am I exploring old patterns that I had for decades, I am also trying to articulate exactly what’s gotten me out of them and into healthy patterns that have shaped and changed my life for the better over the last 5 years.
5 years. Still, when I say those words to people – when I tell them the length of my sobriety – I get one of three looks.
- There is the person who’s never even thought about coming off their drugs. A mix of a-ha moment and wonder.
- There is the person who has a vague idea of how hard it is, or has never taken drugs before at all. A mix of awe and sympathy.
- And sometimes, there is the unicorn. The person who came off drugs – sometimes for 5, 10, 15 years – and then started again. A mix of sympathy and come-uppance.
Because of the pain.
Those last people, they always look at me with a certain twinkle that says, “You don’t know. You haven’t been there yet.”
They think I don’t know about the pain.
The co-dependent kind of pain that makes you need to turn to something else because you cannot possibly do this by yourself. Pain without words. Empty pain that hits the heart and lives in the stomach. Debilitating, all encompassing, body bruising pain. The kind that makes you take a drug, reach for a bottle or sincerely make plans to die. I know about the heaviness in your chest. Crushing anxiety, seemingly inborn depression, the survivor’s guilt. The kind that makes you scramble to the toilet bowl because you’ve overdone it again. But, you know as you peer and wretch at your own sick, that you’ll do it all again tomorrow. Just for some semblance of relief. Maybe tomorrow, it will work. So you knock yourself out on a muscle relaxer or a sleeping pill or a tall glass of booze, and you say a silent prayer that the emptiness will be gone tomorrow. Or at least a little dulled. So that maybe you can cope.
In fact, I’m quite familiar with that particular strain of pain.
It had a hold of me for my whole memorable life.
The most haunting and painful part, maybe, is reading my old journal entries.
I feel a surreal distance from the girl who wrote them. I don’t know her. I wouldn’t be friends with her. I feel for her, but I cannot believe she was me.
It is incredible to me how far I’ve come: mentally, physically, spiritually, emotionally.
I’m still in my twenties, and truly feel like I have the weeds sheered, the sack packed and the path mapped out. Now I just have to walk it.
From a girl who was attempting suicide in 2011, that’s saying a LOT.
Today, I have to pat myself on the back. I want to thank the wanderer in me. I want to thank the lessons, the pills and I even want to thank the pain.
Pain taught me very valuable lessons. Pain taught me how to be brave when I was weak. To get up when I was down. How to strike back when I thought I was done. Pain taught me me that anything is possible. Every time my body screamed NO! my mind screamed back YES!!!! I’M NOT GIVING UP NOW!!
Pain is temporary. But the lessons that you learn from overcoming pain?
Those are permanent.
Facing your pain and fears is permanent healing, which is what I had been seeking all along.
Only you can begin the process of healing, but without pain, you may never have a reason to start.
No matter how much I struggle, no matter what I face, no matter what lessons disguised as problems that life has in store, I have something now that I never had before.
I have the solution.
Crochet Top & Lace Dress: Stormie Dreams
Bracelet & Choker: Sweet Creek Leather