You never realize you’ve hit roads’ end until you run out of air and slam into the metaphorical brick wall that was always waiting beyond sight.
They tell you that your years of self destructive inclinations and the years spent wasted in all senses have paid off, as you began to value the idea of life.
That you’re damaged inside, that the next drink you take to quiet the voices inside could be your last when the stomach ruptures as a gorged larvae and floods the body with self made poison.
And you miss the poison.
Without it the colours are too bright, smells too loud. The world flip flops between being a place of wondrous beauty and a dark pit ready to swallow you once again. Your mind is set alight where before it remained chilled thanks to the bourbon or vodka; whichever was closest.
You recall every mistake, each word you could have taken back and the days you lost to the emptiness that is as comforting as it was frightening. When the dark times come you long for oblivion again, because oblivion is the absence of everything.
Regrets scrawled onto the stones in your pockets, you long to walk into the lake. Your body shakes and trembles despite the medication and the nightmares are once again vivid and very real. Each door in your head swings open in tandem to release the demons you’ve been hiding from since you picked up a bottle.
You consider the world that was and the world that is, and wonder at the years left behind and those you could not bring with you. You become aware of how short the days are and all endeavours become frantic and rushed, as though you’re in a steeplechase and the other horse is death himself wielding hooves as knives.
In the brighter moments you feel alive and for the first time remember the smell of snow; the feeling of cold water on skin, what it was like to be real and laugh and dream. Imagination begins to creep in, quiet, urging you to hang on to the pieces of the person you once were and find a way to patch yourself together again.
But it’s a nebulous thing, hope: the chemicals in your brain slosh the way the liquor did in a glass and soon enough you swing back into the darkness and the unending battle with an urge both painful and irresistible. You find yourself at opposite ends of the rope; pleasure or pain with no middle ground.
The non existent health service tell you that things will settle, then hang up the phone. Why ought they care or show sympathy after years of neglect and malpractice? Why ought they care when the damage finds itself done and you have become another lost cause. Another statistic, a name on a label one day.
So you fight to spite them. You fight to see a better day, to be better than you were before the world had stained you with indelible ink. Blood that won’t wash from your hands; the heart pounding panic each time a car backfires or fireworks go off for a solid half hour. The terror you feel that this second chance cannot last by any means, that you are as weak as they believe and will again succumb to the night that awaits within.
The darkest night is the one blooming within ourselves.
The only way it ever falls is via giving in or giving up. Others will call you a failure, tell you that addiction was a choice and you should have been strong enough to win battles alone. Such people lack empathy and life experience; they tend to live in a comfortable bubble and rarely do they stray from the ignorant sanctuary they’ve walled themselves into.
In some ways they suffer more than you, but the difference is that they brought such despair upon themselves. The only way to conquer an addiction or illness is to plunge through it, and the only way to conquer fear is via knowledge and compassion.
Whether you’re one day sober, one week into the hell of detox like me or you’ve been fighting for years you should be proud and know that you are not alone. You have slain a dragon while they were throwing stones from glass houses. You have found yourself burned and scarred, beaten down and bruised but the wounds will heal and leave you able to bear what they cannot imagine.
The only way to fail is to give up. To stop living, to fall into a spiral of excuses and squalor, to build a bubble of delusion around yourself and continue to repeat the same destructive patterns a lifetime over.
To grow and overcome, you cannot lay down and curl up at the foot of the wall that lies before you. You cannot go over it, under it or around. You have to find a way to punch through. It isn’t an easy road and it happens at a slow pace, baby steps that sometimes feel as though you are walking in reverse.
But there’s no other choice. You must find a reason and a way to live again for yourself, because nobody can save you or take the journey on your behalf. You can fight or yield, and there’s no other choice and no one else to do the work even in the darkest moments. You can have the most fantastic support network in the world and still have to do the heavy lifting: the majority of this battle is waged in the mind and heart, not upon a bloody field.
Find your reason, find your will. When you’re going through hell keep going, or fall and burn where you stand. Hold onto the glimpse of hope, to each sign of beauty you see. Do not forget the past lest it be repeated, but do not allow yourself to suffocate on quicksand of your own making.
This is a war, and not everyone will make it out alive. Wars are won with the will, by standing tall when your head is so heavy it may fall off. You will find no help in those who handle you with kid gloves, those who enable your negative thought patterns or accept your excuses. You must learn to master the art of self control and apply discipline to every aspect of life, and it is tiring.
You must learn to let go of those who wallow in despair and would drag you back into the pit that devours all with them: if you are devoured, you lose. All life has meaning and where there is a heartbeat there is hope, but you cannot save everyone and trying only leads to a vicious cycle of grief and destruction. Letting others go is never easy; change is always scary and the fear of failure multiplies itself when backed up by past misadventure. Be brave, and fight for yourself. Or fade.
Note: this is my second detox merry go round and I’ve recently had to cut a few people out of my life. It wasn’t easy but it was the right thing to do, as I’ve realized that the people we surround ourselves with tend to influence our beliefs and actions on a subconscious level. It’s a difficult choice but there is nothing shameful about doing so. We exist in a society where to let go is seen as callous and cruel, even if it means saving ourselves. We do not owe others anything: not our time, not our love, and not our energy. I am no longer going to allow toxic influences to impact my decision making process at such a delicate time, and neither should you.
When someone says they do something that hurts you because they love you, that is toxic.
When somebody values their feelings over the well being and safety of yourself, that is toxic.
When people treat you as a crutch and refuse to change it is exhausting, and it is toxic.
Do not be afraid or ashamed to cut the toxic elements from your life and reach out to surround yourself with better things. I’m very lucky to have the support network I do and I’m aware not all possess such, but change and growth require proactivity and interaction with people to find those who truly resonate with you and want you to be all that you can be. That’s what everyone deserves, but you cannot save others without first saving yourself and building fresh foundations from granite, not sand.
Do not feel ashamed to let go of what drags you back.