Note from the editor-in-chief, Marilyn L. Davis
Thursday Truths will help people understand, in ways that a clinical explanation can’t, that healing isn’t about ‘getting over’ something; it’s about living a life where the painful past no longer rules the present. These personal stories on Thursday Truths unite us, give us hope, and offer answers to people struggling with their addictions.
By: Ben R.
My Troubles are Blue, What Color are Yours?
As an old spiritual says, “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen.” I suspect though that most addicts know. My problems in life were not unique, I just had more of them than most. And, my problems were compounded from an early age.
I was born one month to the day after the moon landing and one week to the day after the Woodstock festival. At that time, terms like Asperger’s, Tourette’s and Anxiety Disorder were not used freely. However, hurtful labels like, “Out of control” “Angry Child,” and “Bad Child” were used frequently. I was indeed out of control, but for clinical reasons.
My parents divorced when I was four years old, and proceeded to use me as a truncheon to attack each other. The divorce was beyond pathological, and it affected my sense of security at a time when I was most in need of safety, guidance, and protection from the adults in my life.
Because My Color Is Different
I developed Tourette’s and was bullied mercilessly for having this disorder. I also was socially inept due to having Asperger’s. No doctor I saw diagnosed these matters and in fact, insisted that I could stop behaving as I did if I so desired.
In 1979 I was placed in the cuckoo’s nest for children in Delaware. This did nothing to help me because no one would admit that I couldn’t control my own mental illness.
From 1980-1984, I was sent to a camp each summer, run by two abusive partners who claimed to help children with social and personality disorders. The physical, emotional, and sexual abuse occurred daily. Even when I was sexually abused by my counselor, I said nothing as I knew that no one would do anything about it.
During High School at Harrisburg Academy in Pennsylvania, I was bullied mercilessly. I was told to just ignore the bullying. That never worked and never was going to work. A baseball bat might have worked, but that wasn’t an option. Most of the teachers didn’t do a damned thing to help either.
In high school that I discovered a way to alleviate some of my mental issues. Marijuana and alcohol. The more I used, the better I felt. And once I hit college, I used even more. There was no going back. I managed to make it all the way through to graduate school. During that time I also spent two years in a cult in Chestnut Ridge, NY.
Where Are The Colors Like Me?
After graduate school, there were a series of failed jobs, due in part to my Asperger’s and social anxiety. Since I didn’t seem to fit well into mainstream society, I became a full-time hobo. I rode the freights and the busses all over America. Much of the time I was intoxicated or stoned. In fact, I detoxed off of Opium for five days in the rear of a Greyhound bus during a Midwest blizzard.
In 2007 I met a beautiful girl. I decided to get clean for her, and it worked for two years. During that time I developed cochlear Ménière’s. I lost eighty-five percent of my hearing. We moved to Florida, and I was ready to give up. I decided to attend AA. I found a sponsor, was fitted for hearing aids, and worked the steps like my life depended on it. It did.
My past issues have made my recovery seem harder, but I’ve put time, energy, and effort into healing. It wasn’t easy; I have PTSD, and I needed to find ways to safely heal. But in eleven years and four months, I have not had a drink or a drug.
I have had days and even weeks where I wanted to give up. Having temper tantrums, fits of sobbing, and feeling defeated, I sometimes thought the best answer was just dying.
What has always keep me going is the one thing that I know is true; if I don’t pick back up, any problem is surmountable.
Finding My Crayon Box in AA
The more meetings I attended, the more people I found who were supportive. I’m not perfect, and I don’t work this program to perfection, either. But with the help I found in Alcoholics Anonymous, I’m able to live.
I would hope that you explore Alcoholics Anonymous Intergroups. Finding a meeting in your area, getting phone numbers from same-sex individuals, using them as a sponsor, and taking steps may be your solution, too. One thing that has helped me come to terms is to help others who are struggling.
While it sounds simple, it does work.
I know how unlovable I felt growing up, and find this a common theme in the rooms. No one may tell you today that they love and support you, but I do. I love you because you’re trying to be a better you. I love you because it’s love that heals both of us.
One day at a time, one kind word to someone suffering, and one person accepting and helping another is how we all heal.
Winner CampNaNoWrimo, 2018
Writing, and recovery heals the heart
Your story of addiction and recovery will touch others in ways that Ben’s or mine can’t. What are you waiting for? Send a guest post with Thursday Truth in the subject line. Thanks.