My name is Laura, and I’m an addict. I think I’ve known this to be true for quite some time, though it was only recently that I realized the gravity of this truth. One year ago today marks the day of my first high, and the most recent of countless resolutions to “get clean for real.”
I have tried to sober myself up several times before in what felt like genuine, wholehearted attempts to be free of this disease. I could go for days in this state that should probably not even be described as sobriety because of how much it continued to consume me. To this day I can’t settle on which is more intense: the euphoria of the highs or the torment of the lows.
It was during the highs that I began to feel more like who I should be than I ever had before. I believed I could do anything. I loved who I was. This continued through those in-between periods, when I knew soon enough I’d be able to bask in the glory of the most wonderful feeling I had ever imagined. I believed I was a competent human being, and I liked who I was. But the second I stopped to think about the true reality of my choices and what I’d let my life become, I knew I was in for a miserable low. During these periods, I didn’t even know myself. I became a monster. I hated myself. I wasn’t sure if I would ever feel fulfilled, no matter what I did.
The struggle between resolving to better yourself, to get a grip on reality, and the emptiness of the realization that that resolve would mark the end of all those euphoric days when you’re the most “you” you’ve ever been, is the realest struggle I know. The physical and mental pain of this self-inflicted withdrawal takes me nearly as far out of reality as my euphoria. The only difference is the cold, hard sobriety means there’s no escape.
The only things that numb the pain are other things that will lead me down another path to a different breed of this same addiction. Sure, I can distract myself temporarily and stay busy and even have fun. I can quiet the want during the times when there are other feelings to be felt.
The loss and hopelessness sets in when my mind clears for even a second. A part of me is missing. These other parts are okay, but I need my favorite part. It’s like I cut off my own arm. Sure, it was completely diseased and was slowly poisoning my whole body, but it was still my fucking arm and it’s mine and I want it back so I can be whole again.
I begin rationalizing: when I feed this addiction and accept it as part of my life, I am happy. I can function. Just knowing that there will be another high coming is enough to get me through the day. It’s the mere thought of long-term sobriety that sends me spiraling into depression. So many times before I have gone through this cycle. Sometimes the rationalization comes in minutes or hours, sometimes it takes days of pain and hopelessness. The next step in the cycle is always relapse, and it always brings comfort and ends all pain. How do you quit something that seems to make everything better?
The reality of addiction is that it fosters these intense feelings that demand to be felt. It’s not the highs that keep me coming back, it’s the lows.