Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Sometimes it is something really small that can trigger a flood of memories for me. Something so insignificant, like a sound or a smell...and then you are right back there in your mind. It is things like this can make it so hard for someone who is shaky in recovery; someone who is not standing on firm and solid ground. All it takes is a little bit of instability and a trigger of some sort to send us reeling.
In early recovery, we learn all about triggers. AVOID TRIGGERS is another recovery mantra. Change PEOPLE, PLACES, and THINGS is yet another recovery slogan. These we can learn to do, but those insignificant triggers still pop up. Those unexpected things like sounds or smells. These are the ones that can throw an addict back into addiction so quickly if he is not in a better place.
My life is in such a different place now, and for that I am thankful. I actually had one of these triggers pop up for me today. A simple sound, and a rush of memories came flooding back over me. Now, my reaction to a trigger is so different. Chills went up my spine as my mind saw certain pictures with horror. I was afraid, finally, for all those fearless times before that I just kept on using.
Sometimes when I look back, I am afraid of the way I used to live. Other times, I just get a flash of a frightening event. At the time, I was not scared. At the time, I was so deep into my addiction that I could not see the danger I was putting myself in. All I could see was getting my next fix, however I had to. Now that I am miles and miles away from it all, I am scared to death of some of my behaviors.
Sometimes there are images that pop up that I have not thought about in so long. At the time of my addiction, so many things I did not even think about. Then, I just reacted to my environment, doing what it took to keep myself and Liam well. I have realized recently, that many of the events of the past have adversely affected my existence today, and often times I did not even remember that they happened...until something triggers the memory.
The other day, a memory was triggered where I saw myself sitting in the passenger seat of a big truck. I was with a man wearing jeans and cowboy boots. He seemed nice enough. We pulled into a farm of some sort. I remembered going into the barn and looking at the horses. I remember being slightly afraid of the horses, which was odd because I grew up around horses.
I am sure I was wasted when all this happened, as I remember it was late at night. There was a old house on the farm that was being renovated. I am not sure if the man with the cowboy boots lived here or would be moving in soon. There was a bed and an old wood burning stove there. There were dishes there, so someone stayed there on occasion, that much was obvious. The man may have told me the deal and I just do not remember that.
The house was all wooden inside, and it was really neat and old. The gentleman showed me another room that was full of guns. He had these old military boxes there with all kinds of antique and illegal guns. He had one of those old school automatic guns like you see in old gangster movies. He also had a cannon there. He told me he still shot cannon off during parties. There was a ton of different guns in this room.
Obvious to me looking back, this place was not in the city of New Orleans. I had no idea how far from the city I may have been. And I really had no idea who this man was. But, here I was in his world in the middle of the night. Obviously, I was up to no good.
This memory is so hazy that I almost question myself if it really happened. It has a dreamlike quality that makes me wonder if maybe I just dreamed it. But, I know that I did not. I know that this really happened...I have just stored it somewhere deep in the recesses of my mind. When the memory flooded back, I was afraid, suddenly aware that anything could have happened to me that night. Anything could have happened to me so many nights I have tried to forget. And these memories, however repressed, affect the way I think even now.
Today, I heard a phone ring. It was the ring tone that triggered memories for me. Just the regular stock ring tone of an older Motorola phone that I have heard a thousand times. Still, a flood of memory washed over me...and I began to shudder.
That was my ring tone for a few months. It was the few short months I was back on New Orleans after Katrina. Those were some of the most lost times of my life. Hearing the ring tone, I was suddenly reminded of those days and again, a shiver ran up my spine.
Images of dark and dirty old houses, left in ruin by the storm. Working in sleazy clubs, and my city inundated with strange construction men. A ridiculous little troll calling me all the time to hang out. Strange people, strange times. Reunited with old friends and up to no good. Lost and found in all kinds of shady places. I shudder to think of things I did in that desperate hour...just before I began to stick my head above the water. A few wasted months. Images I may never recover from.
I am, however, thankful that I am not thrown back into cravings with these triggers. I finally have fear of the dangerous past, where before it never occurred to me. Before, the drugs were all I thought about, all I knew. Now, the drugs are the last thing I think about when these memories flood over me. I am blessed that things have changed. I am altered forever.
I used to say that I felt like I had truly broken the addiction when the first thing I thought about every morning and the last thing I thought about at night was no longer drugs. I relished in the fact that I was not thinking about drugs every day, twice a day. Now, I realize how much farther along I am today. Today when I look back, I am afraid of things I did. Today, I realize how deep I once was...and how far away from that I am now. Finally. Thankfully.
I try not to hold regret. Lots of those days, I look back at with fond memories. In a way, I would not change what I endured if I could. I am thankful to have lived through it, and I am thankful for all I have learned from my transgressions. I think I am a person much closer to truth because of the things I know. I am a stronger person through my adversity. It has been a long and bumpy road, but the path has been interesting.

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