I Choose Me (Notes on Facing the Truth About Addiction)

drugspencil

Ask anyone who’s ever hit rock bottom about the moment they finally realized the truth about themselves, and they can tell you in detail when they stopped believing their own bullshit. Usually, the story involves extraneous details that take a long time to recount. You start hating yourself for asking and then wonder how you can become a heartless fucker who doesn’t care about anybody so you never have to listen to this kind of drivel again. This has never been a problem for me because as my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Lefever, once told me, my listening ears are broken. Maybe she told me ten times, but my penchant for underachievement has saved me from listening to a lot of shit that would only clutter my pristine, unused mind.

I’m bad at being good to myself. I don’t understand love the way I think someone my age (33) and in my position (mother and wife) should understand it. More importantly, I lack the ability to recognize pain as a sign that something is wrong. Actually, I’m uncomfortable being pain-free. I don’t feel like myself. That weight helps me know that I exist.

Even with a tolerance as high as mine, I’ve been feeling an unbearable amount of pain lately. I thought it was because I lost the sudoku book I got at the dollar store that I refuse to replace because there isn’t another dollar store close by, and the ones at my local bookstore start at $5.95. What am I? A rapper with limitless income?

Instead of buying two sudoku books as I had originally planned, I decided to spend my other dollar on a foldable map of the United States. It’s always bothered me that I’m not able to immediately identify the 48 contiguous states (Alaska and Hawaii are freebies, and if you can’t identify those two states on a map, then you’re totally fucked in life and don’t let nobody tell you different).

Since I’ve been going to therapy again, I used my session the week I lost my sudoku book to lament about my haphazard organizational skills. I don’t know what you consider a good use of time with a therapist, but my heart felt a lot lighter after spending 20 minutes recounting all the special items I’ve lost over the years, especially the Louis Vuitton bracelet I lost in New York while I was not sober.

The session started out with a list of lost items and moved into my therapist claiming that I was an addict. I’m not one of those people that lets anyone with a mental health workbook and a feelings chart tell me about myself, so I regularly dismiss any label I’m given. “I’m not an addict, you stupid fuck. I can stop any time I want.” Actually, my mouth said “Ms. Dee,” but my eyes said “stupid fuck.”

It’s been difficult to face the truth about myself. I just kept pretending that I was fine. I would smile and make little dry jokes and turn the attention back on the other person so I wouldn’t have to answer any questions.

I was also confused for a long time because people told me that I looked “so put together” and happy, so if I felt any other way, I chided myself for being delusional. I learned not to trust my feelings. Since I’ve been told countless times that my thoughts aren’t the truth either (especially ones that involve self-hate and self-sabotage), I began to believe that every single thing that went on inside of me was a lie.

I lean on my addictions when the pain becomes overwhelming, and it takes my breath away every time I try to deal with it. Now, after all this time, the one simple truth I know about my weaknesses is that they don’t even really mask the pain I feel. They amplify it. My addictions bring in a new level of agony that I can only reach when I am knee-deep in my secret habits. Being in therapy has helped me realize that many elements of my day-to-day routine are actually addictions.

Yesterday, on the Flourish in Progress Facebook page, I wrote:

I was scrolling through my FB feed just now and saw these words from my friend, Laurie White: “I recommend asking for the help you need to do the things you think you cannot do. That’s the part I was missing.”

 I hate crying because it makes me feel weak and I refuse to do it if at all possible. But Laurie’s words made me cry and just this once, I knew that it wasn’t because I was weak.

 I hate that being an addict is something I’ll never not be. (That probably didn’t make sense, but y’all know I struggle with my English on the reg.) Addicts are either letting their addictions take over their lives or running away from them. Both are exhausting and sometimes I feel like a loser. Asking for help in either phase is what usually makes the difference for me. I hate asking for help though. Because that makes me feel like I’m not capable of helping myself. Which cannot possibly be the truth because we all know that I’m pretty goddamn perfect.

I am finally able to face the truth about my addictions, and I’m going to spend some time getting help. There are some things that I just can’t do on my own. I can choose to let my addictions flourish or I can choose me.

I choose me.

—–

P.S. My ability to estimate the amount of time anything requires is real, real bad, but I hope to be back on the blog before too long…fingers crossed that with some serious effort in July, I’ll be back in August. In the meantime, I’ll occasionally be rolling by Instagram (@flourishinprogress) or the Flourish in Progress Facebook page. I’ll still be posting Rap Lyrics + Tree pictures on my passion project, Hood Plus Good on Instagram, though not as often. Y’all be good. I done enough bad for the whole lot of us. Thank you for being so kind to me.

tupacbox(flourishinprogress on Instagram)

P.P.S. Creating something has always been therapeutic for me, whether it’s a string of words that convey a thought or a scrapbook (my scrapping skills are fucking legit). I started making these boxes again. I make each from fine silver which is 99.99% silver (vs. sterling silver which is 92.5%). Each box starts out as a lump of precious metal clay (fine silver particles and binders) which I shape, mold, carve, and assemble, then I throw into my kiln at 1,650*. The binder burns off leaving just the precious metal. Since silver is a market commodity, the price of this clay fluctuates all the time, and it’s gotten expensive as fuck to make each one. But, like, YOLO. This one was inspired by Holler If Ya Hear Me, the Broadway musical based on Tupac’s work, that I just saw in New York last week.

Did u hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete  -Tupac Shakur

I’d like to try creating other objects besides boxes. Any thoughts? The box pictured above is only about the size of a quarter (due to precious metal clay prices), so I’d like to keep other projects about the same size. Thank you for your help.

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  • http://www.elizabethaquino.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth Aquino

    I’m always here, listening. I think the bit of you I know is pretty damn wonderful, and I appreciate how difficult it must be to share the things you’ve shared with the grace and humor and honesty that you have shared them.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You’re always so kind. How do I have you as a friend!?

      And…you teach me about grace and humor and honesty every time I am with you.

  • A well wisher

    I’m proud of you. Take care.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      *hugs* thank you.

  • Jennifer Clark

    Hunny. I think there is far too much emphasis on labels. “I’m a lesbian! I’m a codependent enabler!” Figure out your issues and make a plan to deal. Come to Mayberry if you need a reality check.

    Miss you!
    Jen

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Coincidentally….you know what I was thinking about today? When we went to Trader Joe’s and you got that bread to make garlic bread. Every time I go to TJs now, I try in vain to remember which one it was that you got. For some reason, that memory is a happy place for me. Thank you for my happy place.

      • Jennifer Clark

        I’m pretty sure it was the ciabatta. Any time, love.

        Come on up to Mayberry, sweetie. I will cook for you, you can regale me with stories of the thug life…. Birthday Week starts on Sunday; I’m turning #%, Cameron will be 16, and the Wee Lassies will turn 9. Oy!

        We need to make a plan to hook up in Santa Barbara. What dates work for you?

        Cheers, Bella!
        Jen

        • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

          Messaging you now! xoxo

  • Laura Bezzeg

    Bless you. You are growing up. You have strength. And grace. And wisdom.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I feel like you give me too much credit. But I will take it. Because I hope to grow into it one day. xo

  • mwheatcraft

    I’m so glad you’re choosing you. We’ll be here, and you will be too. Take care of yourself, and we’ll continue to care for you.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You should write greeting cards. Cuz you’d be hella rich.

      Thank you for the support. xo

  • Misty

    Recognizing our faults and making a plan to address them is all part of that wonderful carnival ride called “growing up.” Take the time to do what you have to do, but know that those that know and love you still think you are wonderful. Never believe all the things being told to you, including by your own self. You take care of you, and we’ll be here supporting and cheering you on as always. ((HUGS))

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You’re always there for me! I wish I could offer you a fraction of what you’ve given me.

      Thank you. xoxoxo

  • http://www.southshoredecoratingblog.com/ Stacy Curran

    I think you’re amazing. And can’t wait for the day when you think it, too.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I think you’re VERY amazing. (I had to add that word bc otherwise it felt like I was copying, but luckily, I totally mean it.)

  • Steph

    I wish I could put your little thug self in my pocket. I’m so sure we could help each other. But, since that’s kind of fucked up and my pockets aren’t that big, I hope this works out for you. *fist bump*

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      One of my nicknames is Polly Pocket. Let’s make this happen.

  • Natane

    I’m going to miss your insightful thoughts and words, I won’t lie about that. More importantly, though, I’m so happy for you to be choosing you. I’ve watched so many people in my immediate life choose addictions (and people can be addicted to anything, really) over working through whatever is going on inside.

    Always remember to keep perspective on things. Since I started following your blog (in that first year), you’ve grown and come so far in recognizing who you are. As important as it is to acknowledge the road ahead, we have to remember to celebrate how far we’ve come.

    I’m looking forward to instagram and Facebook updates. Celebrating successes and wins over the voices inside are always the best parties.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Oh man, it makes me feel both extremely grateful and bad that you’ve come through this journey with me. Sorry for being such a hot mess. And I wish I knew enough words to thank you for sticking around. Wish emojis worked in Disqus. I can express myself well in emojis.

      • Natane

        No apologies required! Many of your posts have encouraged me to look at myself and ask the tough questions, and today I’m very happy with who I have become. Just remember, our past helps make us who we are today. How boring would our stories be if there wasn’t any of the bad parts? Or even the less good parts. The messes make us interesting. And wise.
        Perhaps you should send an update request to Disqus to have them add emojis? You aren’t the only one who likes to send them! <3

        • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

          You speak the TRUTH. Go on wit yo bad self.

          xoxo

  • Aurek

    I really wonder what kind of addiction do you have , because you seems to be a happy pperson , you post pictures of good family with rich husband and normal daughter , you seems to wear haute couture , and you hard life seems behind you . I don’t picture you drinking or doing cocaine . Anyway , all my wishes to get better and to win over your addictions .

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’m so puzzled by this too.

      Sometimes, as I’m waiting for my daughter at her elite private school, I will look down at my Jimmy Choos and wonder how I could have an addiction at all. I can never come up with an answer though because I get distracted by the thought of an afternoon snack and I have to text my housekeeper so that my snack is ready when I arrive home.

      Thank you for your support.

  • SuzLotus

    I ‘ll be here. Whenever you return. Do what you got to do. And I’ll tell you what a friend told me – don’t feel bad about feeling bad, it is what it is until it isn’t anymore. You will get to the point where it isn’t anymore. XO

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Damn. You got some smart friends. Thank you, boo. *fist bump*

      • SuzLotus

        I’m absolutely surrounded by smart, loving, kind, strong friends who pick me up when I don’t have the strength, and knock me on my ass when it’s needed. Take that phrase and make it your own! You are welcome and a *fist bump* back atcha! XO

  • Lisa Victoria

    You are a beautiful soul, and yay for choosing you. Thanks for sharing your journey girl.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      *hugs* Beautiful soul- I really like this. Thank you. Worth remembering and repeating.

  • Morgan (The818)

    I just love you.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I love you. Thank you for today. It soothed my soul.

  • kristin

    I think the boxes maybe mean something… they could be metaphorical for you. You could place (the idea) of something that you’ve lost inside each box, and then you know right where it is.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      This is absolutely brilliant. Thank you. I love, love this.

      “Like everything I’ve ever lost come back to me” -Warsan Shire

  • Elaine

    Good for you! Thank you for sharing your story with us. We’ll miss you, but will be right here waiting for you. Take care of yourself!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Homegirl, thank you so much for sticking around and having my back. xo

  • KMcWriter

    Great work, girl — it looks like you’re ready to feel better, and I’m so happy for you. I’ll be right here waiting, Richard Marx style, for your posts in August, or September, or whenever you’re feeling alright. On the silver creation front — how about pendants? You could hang them on really pretty fine ribbons or a black rope. They could have hand-drawn letters, or maybe teeny tiny rap lyrics on them.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      *hugs*

      That is a FABULOUS idea. I love it. Thank you. It truly would be Hood+Good to add little rap lyrics to precious metal. Girl, your brain works real good.

  • Kat

    Therapy is fucking legit torture. OMG I love it and hate it in equal measure. I always cry. I always walk out feeling equally exhausted and restored. It’s killing me in the best possible way.

    But, uh, not to be creepy – I seriously would not have gone if not for you being so honest here. I felt like I was too broken to be redeemed, too ugly to ever find beauty again, too far gone to even bother trying to rescue. I am an addict. I have major depression and anxiety issues. I am a fucking mess. But I’m trying to do and be better. So there’s that.

    Thank you for telling your story. It probably saved my life. At the very least, it helped me realize that I have a life worth saving.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You nailed it. That’s exactly the way I feel when I walk out of therapy- both exhausted and restored. And then I hate it so much that I have every intention of canceling my next appointment. BUT, as the day draws nearer, I allow myself to see the benefits and I go again. Rinse. Repeat.

      You’re not creepy at all. Quite the opposite. Oftentimes I feel very alone in what I’m going through and I’m often ashamed to put the thoughts and experiences out, but knowing that someone out there identified with even one bit of it makes me want to keep going.

      “You think your life is embarrassing and then someone find encouragement in it.” from the movie Spanglish

  • Erin@MommyontheSpot

    I love you. I’m so proud of you for getting help. I’m here whenever you want to talk.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You’re my ride or die, girl. And I love you for that.

  • Sarah Stars

    Wow – first, as always, thank you for sharing. You are so brave, and I hope you know that’s how we see you, even if you don’t feel it. This post hit me a little hard, and I got real shaky after I finished, so I apologize for the amount of my words.

    Truthfully, I shy away from anything that anybody writes on addiction, or self-harm, but I know why I do it. I don’t want to see myself in what that person writes, because I know it mirrors me too clearly. I don’t like thinking of myself as an addict, because, you’re right, it makes me feel like a loser, and I don’t want anyone else to know it. (I guess I should tell you not to worry about me – I don’t self-harm, though I fully understand why people do it, because I feel that way sometimes.)

    I’m really scared of hitting that rock-bottom everyone talks about, so I have been working for a while to slow down what I’ve been doing, and have been somewhat successful. Part of that has been because in some ways, I DO want to stop, but I’m not sure what life would be like on the other side. Part of it has also been that I’ve seen that I’m not the only person who struggles – you’ve been one of my inspirations (as well as the Bloggess, the LOFB, and a few others). I can’t tell you how much it means to know that I’m not alone, that I’m not crazy for being this way.

    As for your notes on love, you are not alone. I feel like a robot, that I don’t understand feelings on the bright and happy end of the spectrum (only the opposite, though looking at my life, you wouldn’t say I had reason to be that way). Love is DEFINITELY something I have no real understanding of, and I don’t foresee that changing, honestly. I have too much to work on with myself before I could even think of bringing a SO into my life, let alone those kids that are supposed to expand your understanding of love.

    Thank you thank you thank you for sharing. I hope that the coming months are fruitful for you, and that they go on a positive path. You are so amazing at using your words, and I hope you find reasons to keep sharing with us. Thank you again for finding/having the courage to share such personal things. Be safe this summer!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      For a long time, I did not want to reveal what I was doing to ANYONE including my husband because….it wasn’t that I couldn’t be helped…I sort of didn’t WANT to be helped. I liked that my addictions soothed me on some level. I mean, they really didn’t help anything at all and I would feel like shit when I didn’t have those little aids, so I just had to keep on keepin on.

      I think it’s incredibly brave of you to share your struggles with me here. Anyone who feels pain also seems to feel a lot of fear and shame about revealing that pain. By you sharing with me, I also feel less alone and less crazy for being this way.

      Thank you for sending your love my way. You may not be able to define or understand love in the way you want yet, but your words are filled with light and compassion and so much goodness. And I think those qualities are the true you. Take good care of yourself and holler at me anytime. xo

  • Guest

    I finally got around to reading this post. Appreciate your candor. Thx for the call. Needed it.

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You helped me realize some truths too. I love that we are friends. xo

  • Julie

    EJL I think you’re also way too hard on yourself and maybe too raw in moments like this. Everyone needs counseling including me and everyone fights demons in their heads and many have addictions whether it be shopping, porn, sex, eating disorders, drinking, drugs, gambling, and the list goes on and on. You’re doing amazing as a successful woman, mom, and wife. Thanks for sharing your heart. That is what I love about your blog and your posts. I love your candor because if you cared so much what other people thought you would never ever share like many people don’t on a large forum like your blog. You know who you once were, who you are and who you’ve become. You’re my inspiration and encouragement sis!! Thanks for your CALL today!

    • http://flourishinprogress.com/ Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I feel really undeserving of all your praise! But girl, it makes me know who I could someday be with a lot of effort and I’m going to try to become who you already think I am. Love you. You know you can call anytime. xo

  • IllusionOfCreativity

    Sending all positive vibes your way. Sometimes we need to take a step back from our lives to fix ourselves. The first step of that is realizing we need to do it. You will be great and I can’t wait to read what comes next for you!

  • HappinessWherever

    I’ve followed your blog awhile, though I’ve rarely commented- on this one I wanted to.

    I’m sorry to hear you’re going through such a rough patch, but I’m SO happy that you’re giving yourself the space & time you need to get better (you are one of my favorite bloggers, after all).

    Bad times are only temporary, even though they feel never ending & all-consuming when you’re suffering through them.

    “I have absolutely no pleasure in the stimulants in which I sometimes so madly indulge. It has not been in the pursuit of pleasure that I have periled my life and reputation and reason. It has been the desperate attempt to escape from torturing memories, from a sense of insupportable loneliness and a dread of some strange impending doom.”
    -Edgar Allen Poe

    “I am a work in progress.”

    -Violet Yates, Lost & Found

    It will get better. It always does :)

    HUGS!

  • Eclectic Blogger

    Your candid nature is a breath of fresh air! I really hope you post again whenever you’re up to it. All the best.

  • http://www.simianidiot.tumblr.com Rev. Back It On Up 13

    I hadn’t checked in on you in a while but it was very uplifting to read this. I hope you’re doing well and making great progress with yourself. You and your family deserve it!