Out of Addiction and Back Into Reality


Consider me, a recovering maniac. I’m recovering from a lot of things. I’m writing this at 6:30 am, conserving strength for a grueling 12-hour shift I have today.

Working while detoxing, sucks. Falling into an addiction in the first place to cope with loss and the other pitfalls of life sucks even worse. But, you get up. You take some aspirin. You grab some coffee. You ignore the shakes, you ignore the pain. You do what must be done. You fight. Even if you’re the one who started the fight in the first place.

My friends at work never knew. That was one of the first lessons I ever learned as a teenager in South Jersey, “Never let them see you bleeding.” They never knew. I wouldn’t have bothered them with it, even if I needed the help.

Today is my first morning of absolute clarity, after being denied sleep for weeks by a restless body, purging itself of something I shouldn’t have taken. I had a knee injury from childhood that came back to haunt me in a big way and I was medicating based on a doctor’s consent. But, of course, the body has its own agenda.

I’m not going to go into the specifics, simply because it’s not really the business of anyone, and in my view; addiction is addiction. Whether it be to alcohol, opioids, or porn, it’s the same mask that covers the true face of insanity; the nagging suspicion that while you may have done it for reasons that were pure, now you’re simply the walking definition of “feeding the need.”

I’m reconnecting with my wife, whom I casually ignored after working so much. I’m in a new place. I’m in new surroundings, I’m doing things differently. I’m breaking every habit I ever had and replacing them with new ones, just because I know now, that I can. I eat healthily (even when I don’t feel like it), and I spend more time with my wife and daughter. I get up and write every morning, instead of playing Skyrim all the damned time.

My wife and I even made a decision to have another child.

I almost lost control. I could feel it slipping. I felt my connection with my wife slipping. I felt my daughter’s perceptions of me slipping into the perception that I had of my father. That of some stranger that comes in, sleeps, and shares a room with her mother. I was a stranger in my own life.

At the last minute, I had a choice. I could either continue, knowing where this path led, or I could do what I always have done with everything in my life that was wrong…


I’m a fighter. I come from a family of fighters. We are all hard-nosed, fucked up people, in a world that makes our problems look like drops in a bucket, but we fuck shit up and take the worst life has to give us, and we make gold out of it. That’s what we do. At the end of the day, when life beats the absolute shit out of us, we’re always standing in the end, bloodied, but pissed off and looking for the next battle.

We fight with ourselves, we fight with each other, and we fight with the world. We fight because we fight. It really is that simple.

This was no different for me. Every day was a fight. A fight to get up, and not lay in bed. A fight to sit down and write. Something that up until my addiction had been so natural and flowing, now became a stunted fragmentation of thought, a train with a scattered track.

It was a fight to hug. A fight to show love.

The only thing I don’t understand is that when people recover, they keep talking about their want to go back to it. I have no such need. I don’t want that. I remember the feeling, and I get the same feeling from making love to my wife. I don’t need to pay for it. I don’t need to be this person who’s numb to everything.

I still hurt. My back aches and my hips feel like I’m being crushed in a vice, but the pain is small compared to the pain that convinced me that I needed more, more, more. There is no monkey on my back, there is no urge to do it again. There is nothing, just the everyday further revelation of the man I am underneath when all of it fades away and becomes just another memory of another dark time in my life.

Another memory of a time when I almost lost control.

My wife now has a friend chipmunk who sits on a cinder block outside of our house (she calls him “Chip”). There are birds that come to play with my daughter. There are places around here to walk, nature to explore. There are things to rediscover about myself, things to discover about my wife and daughter.

This house is a beautiful and idiosyncratic house, that has rooms upstairs that are too hot, and a downstairs living room that is massive. The kitchen was definitely the center of life for a forgotten family. You can hear the echoes in the house. The upstairs is a bit too small and makes us feel like a giant, lumbering humans in an oddly shaped Hobbit hole.

My wife says there is someone still in the house and they’re happy we’re here. She’s a very spiritual person.

When I was high, I was in a distorted reality, some kind of filtered oddity that resembled life, but was devoid of the pleasure of even the smallest thing that before my addiction would have given me the biggest thrill.

Now that I’m lucid, life again speaks to me through the trees and the cars driving down the road. I am once again listening to the songs that make me happy, and I am a functional, emotional bag of silliness. I don’t have to filter my life through some kind of synthetic happiness to feel alive. In the end, I felt worse than being dead. I was a passenger on someone else’s bus. Now, I’m driving again.

On, a funny note. While I was detoxing, I was a hyper-emotional boob. The smallest thing would set me off. I would watch a commercial for the ASPCA and start openly weeping. Now, granted I love animals, but my reaction was overkill. Last week, during the hardest part we got our cable installed in our new place until my wife discovered that they had the entire series of “Boy Meets World” on demand. Well, she squealed and I rolled my eyes. I never got into that show. (Sidenote: $130 for cable and Internet, and she ends up watching Law and Order 90% of the time… *sigh*)

But, she asked me to watch a few episodes and I obliged her. So he decides to put on the last episode, a two-parter which was the series finale. Now, I was VERY aware of the characters, but I never really connected with the show, simply because their struggles weren’t mine. My experience of childhood was VERY different than the show presented.

But, the series finale was so bittersweet that I spent the better part of an hour in constant tears. In a moment where I was able to speak coherently, I looked over at my wife who also had tears in her eyes after Mr. Feeny finally admits to himself that he loves the kids. He said, “class dismissed” and I asked her, “why are you making me watch shit that makes me cry, damn you!” We both went from tears to laughter in half a second, and it was the best feeling I have ever had in my life.

The sorrow, the bittersweet feeling, that lump in my throat was the first time I felt something genuine in about four months. I was a real person again. I felt things. I wasn’t in a constant flux between pleasure and pain. I feel everything again, and it’s glorious to the touch.

Folding my hands in contemplation is now a caress.

The desk that I write on, is under a window that faces the sunrise, which is hitting my face right now. I feel the heat, though I’m in an air-conditioned room. I feel the radiance streaming through the window. I feel the life. I see people waking up and the smell of coffee is wafting through my house.

Soon, my daughter will get up, grab some orange juice, and sit down to do her morning assignments on her tablet. She’ll walk out of her room, sleepily say, “Good morning, Papa”, give me a big hug and a kiss, and then start her morning.

I gave myself a gift. I gave myself a gift of clarity; the clarity to enjoy the family that I have, while I have them and not have to try to enjoy them through a fog of pain and haze. I could not ask for anything better. The pain is better than the alternative. With the pain, at least I know I’m alive.

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