“and I have become comfortably numb,” is what Pink Floyd song says in what I consider to be one of the most depressing songs of all time.
When I look back at when I started using drugs, it was because I enjoyed feeling comfortably numb. It was better than the anxiety and depression and self-defeating thoughts that plagued me at that time in my life. Being numb to that pain was a godsend, and I was honestly happier.
For a while.
But then I started my recovery and risk management, and started easing away from the numbness. I began feeling everything – all the hard feelings that I had bottled up came pouring out. And something miraculous happened – I began feeling joy and peace, and experiencing profound happiness that came from a place I didn’t know existed.
At first, all the feelings scared me. Especially, happiness scared me. You see, I got good at recognizing when I needed to numb my pain – when I felt bad. At anything uncomfortable, I would just pick up my drugs. But achieving some level of sobriety showed me that I was also numbing the delight in life. So when I began feeling true, utter delight, I got scared. The truth is I hadn’t reached that level of high when I was on drugs. That cliched phrase “I’m high on life” can be true, and it feels great. Plus, no hangover.
I’m just writing this now at 7 AM, the morning after twenty-day relapse. It’s been fun, it’s been bad, it’s been gross, it’s been enjoyable, and it’s been a slippery slope. I may not know much but I do know that it’s best to quit when I’m ahead. I have made some questionable choices in the past few days, but thankfully I haven’t set my life on fire, and I’m not waiting to hit rock bottom. I guess I’m writing this to remind myself of why I started, why I quit, why I want to quit again.
Is it just me, or is it disturbing that in our culture, having fun with friends generally means “let’s numb our emotions together?” I’m not saying getting effed up isn’t fun – it is fun. I’m not bashing on turning up – I enjoy it as much as the next person! But my journey of sobriety really highlights how obsessed our culture is with leaving our realities in favor of a padded, numbed-out experience. If macro mirrors the micro, then society at large has a lot of repressed emotions to feel out. The good news is, there is freedom and peace on the other side of that wall of pain.
Today, I’ll use my I Am Sober app and start counting days again. I’m writing this to be accountable to my followers, and so that I have something solid (my writing) to hold me accountable. I’m considering making a series about marijuana and sobriety and detoxing on TikTok (let me know if that sounds of interest.) I feel like if I had stumbled across a story like mine three years ago, it would have really helped me feel less alone.
Today I have to face (virtually, of course) my therapist and tell her I’ve been back on my bulls*t. I feel shame to think about it, but it’s her job to be non-judgmental. I don’t know if that makes me feel worse or better.
But, enough wallowing. The sun is coming up over the Harlem and I know I can do hard things (thanks, Glennon Doyle.) I’ve been through detoxing before, I know it feels *really bad* and then gets better. I know the temptation to pick up again feels unbearable at times, but I know I’ve gotten through it before. What’s best is that I have a support system now in recovery, and I’ll call on them when it gets really hard.
Sobriety is not a monolith. And neither is addiction. They are both intertwined and complex and normal and everyday and boring and weird and unique. I’ve been happy and sad and strong and afraid. But today, and most days, most moments, I feel grateful. I am grateful for life and for my life, especially.
What are you working on lately?