About this time last year, I frantically typed out my deepest fears and most sincere outrage. My fingers flew over the keyboard in a warrior dance of defiance and desperation. The government was changing the laws so I couldn’t buy my precious and beloved codeine over the counter anymore. I would need a script from the doctor. My best friend of six or so long years was being torn away from me without my consent and I was terrified. How could I survive the long, long nights alone?
But. Addiction is not so easy to break. And if the people writing the legislation would look into our dark, sad, weary souls to see us, really see us, then they would have known that changing the rules would not solve “the opiate problem”. I have previously written about the concept that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but connection. You can’t simply cage a wild beast and expect it to be tame. It’s more complicated than that. It takes time. A long time.
I can’t be “fixed” just because I can’t buy codeine easily. Like so many others, I turned to alternatives. Valium. Seroquel. Olanzapine. Muscle relaxants. I’ve heard of people turning to heroin. God as my witness, I would turn to heroin myself if I could get some. I put my ear out on the street for any word of black market oxy. I doctor shop to find one who writes scripts easily, too easily, and without question. I’m still broken and the demon still lives on, you fucking idiots. You haven’t fixed “the opiate problem”. You’ve cornered a mass of people in need, you’ve stripped them of their coping mechanism and you have forced the demons inside them to be ever more deviant and destructive. You’ve provoked the beast, you haven’t tamed it.
If I don’t have a stock of my best friend on hand and I have a bad day, I fret. I grieve the comfort and consolation only codeine can bring me. Some weeks, I reward myself with codeine, making it through each hour, telling myself that if I’m good, then I can get some at the end of the week. Prior to developing some sort of undignified and loathsome self-acceptance of myself and my demon, I despised the stereotype that addicts are manipulative. Now, I somehow accept the truth behind that broad statement. I switch between doctors. I’ve learned how to ask for it, what to say, what not to say, how to say it. I’ve learned to give just enough information without too much detail. How to sound firm but not desperate. How to act nonchalantly if they resist. How to assure them that I am not abusing it. What time of day is best to see them. I can’t remember the last time I was denied a script. I know the doctors are no fools. Either I give them just enough information to put in their notes to cover their asses or they don’t give a flying fuck. Either way, I play the game and act my part and as soon as I leave their office, I furtively check the script to see those wonderful words typed on that slip of paper. Like gospel, words that ease my soul and make my heart sing. I try to hide my smile as I nod to the receptionist and hurry out the door to the pharmacy.
Addiction trumps shame, dignity and morals.
Of course, I still can’t get as much codeine as I would like. But the incessant craving still lurks in my mind, the hunger still gnaws at my soul, the restless emptiness still haunts my disconnected heart. There’s something missing, a hole, a cavernous abyss that swells and emits a foul smog over my being, poisoning me from the inside out. And I fill it with codeine, trying to poison it, from the outside in.
I’m not sure what the disconnection is for me. I search and I search and the only temporary answers I find are in little white pills that are bitter on my tongue and make the acid in my stomach gurgle and burn my throat. They are the sweetest little white pills I ever did see. I have a loving partner, I have good friends, I am close to my sisters. But the nagging feeling is forever there. I somehow feel instinctively that the answer lies somewhere with my parents, and yet the disconnection between them and I protects me. The carefully measured out distance I place between them and I leaves me enough room to run and hide, enough room to shield myself, enough room to lessen the blow of their blistering burns.
So, maybe I do know where the disconnection is. Maybe I do know what I need to fill the abhorrent, festering abyss within me. Maybe I know how to clear the smog and I know the antidote to the poison and I know what will make the demon go away forever. But the risk is so great. The nightmares of childhood still haunt me and my fear of closing that distance is so very real. Closing that distance may bring me peace and bring me the healing connection that my soul is bleeding for.
Or maybe, it will be the thing that obliterates me. That is, if my sweet little white pills, don’t obliterate me first.
Read about the beginning of my journey with addiction here.
Image by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash